Newt Gingrich: Poster Boy for Polyamory?

Newt Gingrich seems like an unusual poster boy for polyamory.
Of course, he was quick to distance himself from the allegations by his ex-wife that he had asked her for an “open relationship.” What else could he do, embroiled as he is in a contest to be the least disliked Republican candidate? When asked about the issue in a recent debate he attacked the moderator with a premeditated fury, apparently gaining the audience’s approbation. But if you listen to him and you listen to his ex-wife — I mean, who you gonna believe?

There’s something funny because the more vehemently he denies it, the more I believe his wife. Regardless of whom you believe, it’s a bit startling to hear the allegation about him. Really? Newt Gingrich and “open relationship” in the same sentence? His denials are incredible, of course, and reek of hypocrisy — a scent that must be so omnipresent as to be undetectable.

And yet. There’s something genuinely poignant about him asking his wife for an open relationship. I don’t know why he asked her for that instead of for a divorce. However, I do know of the many reasons other people make that request. Generally it boils down to wanting to hold onto what is valuable in one relationship while exploring what there is to be learned in a new one. It’s a human experience. How we choose to answer that question is an individual matter, but most of us have had to grapple with it at some time in our lives.

Here is a BBC article with a sympathetic take on polyamory sparked by the Gingrich incident.

On the other hand, maybe Gingrich was just another liar trying to make the best out of a bad situation. When you get caught cheating you’ve got to think fast! Another divorce probably didn’t look good for a man with presidential aspirations in a party that extols “family values.” That’s the thing that gets me — by cheating he screwed up his “monogamous” relationship, and also of course screwed up any possibility there might have been for an open relationship. (And if you’re going to ask your partner for an open relationship, here’s a hint, you might want to do it in person, not on the phone after you’ve been caught cheating!)

So now Newt and open relationship are the linked topics of scandal, and prompting some interesting conversations. He’s done us a service by broaching the topic, however inadvertently, and in such a public way. Gingrich’s divorce and attempt at open relationship is probably a personal tragedy for him. For the rest of us: an invitation to a conversation that touches on honesty and love and respect and the role they play in the many permutations of partnership.

Heat Ray To Be Used on Legislators

Oh good, here’s a proposal to end the war I can really warm up to!

Left Field Weekly
Heat Ray to be used on Legislators
By Robert Street
February 5, 2007

In a move that threatens to raise the stakes in the debate over the Iraq war, a judicial review panel has approved use of a controversial new “Heat Ray” by non-governmental organizations. The decision, which is being appealed, comes asvoters are becoming increasingly frustrated with what is perceived as Congressional foot dragging in ending the Iraq war. “With the heat ray, for the first time voters will literally be able to hold Congress members’ feet to the fire,” said a lawyer involved in the proceedings. “This is a victory for concerned citizens, and a real advance for democracy.”

The heat ray, which is said to be harmless, uses millimeter-length waves that barely penetrate the skin but cause people to feel as if they are about to catch on fire. According to Justin Norman of Peace First, lead plaintiff in the case, the use of non-lethal “legislation accelerators” is the logical next step in a moribund democratic process. By providing a non-lethal means of focusing legislators’ attention, heat ray advocates hope to provoke immediate Congressional action on the Iraq war, and other issues they deem important.

The proposal to use the heat ray has been steadily gaining traction among activist groups. “We’ve tried letter writing, mass demonstrations, email campaigns, voting,” said Heather Klein, spokesperson for Act Out for a Change, “but nothing seems to get through to them.” Because of its non-lethal nature, the heat ray appeals to pacifists, yet is also acceptable to voters whose first choice is to dunk their representative in a pool of piranhas. It is this broad popular appeal that is making legislators on both sides of the aisle nervous. In a hastily called press conference, Democratic Majority Leader, Rep. StenyHoyer objected to the panel’s decision. “We’re already pleading with President Bush to change course in Iraq. Setting us on fire is not going to make him change his mind any sooner.” Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) said the heat ray wouldnot discriminate between those wanting to “stay the course, and those who want to cut and run,” although he quickly added that he fully supported the public’s right to own heat rays. Both agreed that a heat ray would disrupt the normal business of Congress, and hinder deliberation on symbolic, non-binding resolutions. “If we feel we’re about to burst into flames we simply won’t be able to argue about important stuff like that,” said Cantor.

Peace activists admit they will face difficulties in deploying the heat ray. Raytheon, the company that designed the weapon, is refusing to disclose the price, but it is expected to be in excess of one million dollars. However, a company spokesman acknowledged that any organization with the legal right to acquire a heat ray would be able to. This week’s ruling clears the way for organizations like Peace First to raise funds for their very own heat ray. “We’re accepting donations on the Internet,” said a hopeful Norman, “so it’s really important that this message gets out.”

Proponents of the plan claim the heat ray may ultimately save lives. “Congress has the Constitutional power to stop the war in Iraq, and to prevent an impending attack on Iran. Anything that can be done to persuade them to exercise that power is acceptable,” stated Klein. “It may be a bit uncomfortable for our Representatives, but we have to weigh that against the thousands of people who may die if we don’t act.” Mr. Norman pointed out that the heat ray does not violate the Geneva Conventions regarding treatment of intransigent government officials. “In fact, the [Geneva Conventions] don’t mention heat rays at all,” he said.

Robert Street is freelance journalist and political writer. He can be contacted at rstreet411/AT/gmail/DOT/com.

###