Grover Cleveland is best known as the only president in American history to serve two non-consecutive terms. But he’s also a forgotten conservative warrior whose personal life offers uncanny similarities to presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.
Yet despite both politicians’ unmistakable proclivity for immoral behavior and fine dining that unveils itself in the rotundity of their profiles, the contrast between their public records couldn’t be more disparate.
Through the brilliant scholarly work of Charles Lachman in A Secret Life: The Lies and Scandals of President Grover Cleveland, the truth of Cleveland’s drunken debauchery and sexual deviancy is finally told.
Lachman recently unearthed records related to the Maria Halpin scandal which show that it’s highly probable that Cleveland fathered a child, Oscar Folsom Cleveland, out-of-wedlock.
This allegation culminated in the famous Republican campaign line, “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa” and nearly sank Cleveland’s presidential bid in 1884 (After his victory, Cleveland supporters were able to retort, “Gone to the White House. Ha! Ha! Ha!”).
Like Cleveland, Gingrich has dealt with a number of sex scandals including cheating on two ex wives and allegedly asking his second wife, Marianne Gingrich, for an open marriage.
Both men married women who were their juniors by multiple decades – Callista Gingrich is 23 years younger than Newt and Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston was 27 years younger than Grover.
While this lewd, strange, and unseemly behavior is reprehensible, private indiscretions of this nature should not preclude a politician from being elected to the nation’s highest office.
What matters most is how a politician conducts himself in matters that concern their constituents and the American people. And on this point, Gingrich and Cleveland are worlds apart.
As the Mayor of Buffalo, Governor of New York, and President of the United States, Grover Cleveland routinely vetoed legislation that reeked of crony capitalism. He also shot down any laws he considered to be outside of his legal or constitutional authority.
As Mayor of Buffalo, Cleveland vetoed a street-cleaning contract because he learned that the owner of the business that received the job was a friend of the local assembly and the company was also the highest bidder. Cleveland remarked that it was “a scheme to betray the interests of the people.” He then chose the lowest bid to save Buffalo taxpayers money.
Throughout his career in politics, he remained keenly focused on representing the people and fighting corruption wherever it surfaced.
Gingrich, on the other hand, is the personification of everything that’s wrong with politics. At time when a large portion of the Republican Party is adopting the limited-government beliefs of the Tea Party, Gingrich is trying to position himself as the conservative candidate in the race.
But with his atrocious record, how can any conservative trust him? This is a man who supported ethanol subsidies, courted Nancy Pelosi and her allies over the climate change topic, lobbied or consulted for special interests like Freddie Mac, Pharma, and Pfizer, championed an individual health care mandate for 20 years, and called Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform program “right-wing social engineering.”
Want more proof that he’s not a conservative?
Gingrich has made innumerable comments praising FDR, even going so far as to say that FDR is “the greatest democratic president of the 20th century and, in my judgment, the greatest president of the 20th century.”
Can you imagine Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan making a statement like that? Today, would Jim DeMint or Marco Rubio ever praise a supreme statist like FDR?
In Newt, conservatives are praising a false god. If he had followed in Grover Cleveland’s footsteps and committed his time as a public official to promoting limited-government principles, then he would be a viable conservative alternative to Romney.
But the history of the historian from Georgia provides demonstrable proof that he’s not one of us.
So let’s stop idolizing him and keep him in the private sector where he’s free to appear in climate change commercials with Nancy Pelosi, collect millions of dollars as a lobbyist, and praise his sainted-president FDR.