• Family Values.

    This is what I don't get about people who support Newton Leroy Gingrich. They tout his "family values" even though the man is miles away from ideal when it comes to genuine family values:

    Kip Carter, his former campaign treasurer, was walking Newt's daughters back from a football game one day and cut across a driveway where he saw a car. "As I got to the car, I saw Newt in the passenger seat and one of the guys' wives with her head in his lap going up and down. Newt kind of turned and gave me this little-boy smile. Fortunately, Jackie Sue and Kathy were a lot younger and shorter then."

    This is a man who walked out on his first wife while she was suffering from cancer and walked out on his second wife when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, after asking if he could have an "open marriage" so he could nail his soon-to-be third wife. You can't put "family values" and "Newt Gingrich" in the same sentence without laughing your head off at the inherent contradictions. Yet he still finds support from the "family values" crowd:

    One senses him trying. "I see a lot of parallels between King David and Newt Gingrich, two extraordinary men gifted by God, whose lives include very high highs and very low lows," Deace says. David, after all, committed adultery with the ravishing Bathsheba, then had her husband killed, among other transgressions. The Bible makes room for complicated, morally compromised heroes. Now Christian conservatives, desperate for an alternative to Mitt Romney, are learning to do so as well.

    "Under normal circumstances, Gingrich would have some real problems with the social-conservative community," says Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council. "But these aren’t normal circumstances."

    You could say the same thing about Mark Sanford. Or Anthony Weiner. Or Elliot Spitzer. Hell, let's throw Herman Cain in there while we're at it. "Extraordinary" men beset by their own lusts and transgressions. And yet Sanford, Weiner and Spitzer had their political careers garroted and left in the street to bleed out. Even the coveted (R) next to Sanford's name couldn't save him. And Herm? Take a look through the archives to see what happened to that guy.

    "Family values." The concept involves one man and one woman, married to one another, with kids, with no adultery, no out-of-wedlock sex and no homosexuality in sight. Yet it's represented by a man whose had three wives, cheated on at least two of them and exhibited all the moral failings that would have these people falling on their fainting couches if it were any other person.

    I'm starting to think that "family values" means something entirely different from the above and I haven't gotten the memo on what that is exactly. New code word for "status quo?" A rallying cry for those who only want to see sickeningly perfect and blindingly white nuclear families? A way for religious and conservative groups to game themselves into backing Newt without throwing up? Perhaps the fine folks in South Carolina could tell me after they've finished celebrating Newt's win. I'm really dying to know.

    You know what's funny? There's already a sterling example of "family values" available, and it's already in the White House. Yep, Barack and Michelle Obama. Too bad they already have two strikes against them, as far as the "family values" crowd is concerned - being Democrats and being that other thing that seems to set off so many people...socialist? No, that's not it...Kenyan? Close, but not quite...