By Kathleen Parker
WASHINGTON – Callista Gingrich has done something she might come to regret – succumbed to the Twitter fairy and opened the door to unwelcome scrutiny.
Until now, the flawlessly coiffed Callista has been granted a fairly generous berth in the public arena. By some unspoken agreement, it seemed unseemly to dwell on the past. The Gingriches have been admirably forthcoming about the transgressions that preceded their marriage.
But, there are other measures by which to judge people who dare to lead 300 million diverse individuals. We don’t elect spouses, we’re fond of pretending. But we do elect them, if sometimes unconsciously. Not only do they represent our idea of the familial ideal to the nation and the rest of the world, but they also engage in pillow talk with the president of the United States. No other influence compares.
So the question is, what prompted Callista Gingrich to abandon the relatively safe role of admiring sidekick and take up arms on Twitter against Mitt Romney? And what might we infer by her actions?
The tweets in question were actually retweets of someone else’s comments. But travelers in the Twitterverse understand that a retweet is, if not a ringing endorsement of the contents, at least a signal to one’s followers: “Hey, check this out!”
What Callista Gingrich thought worthy of sharing were two comments about Romney’s style and appearance – two risky arenas, needless to say.
The other tweet concerned a recent Romney television interview: “Poor Romney. He just is a sound bite candidate. Chris Wallace pulled the string from his back, and he spewed consultant approved policy.”
Spewed? This is not generally a word with which an aspiring first lady would wish to associate.
It comes as no surprise that Callista is rooting against her husband’s primary opponent, but discretion is no part of it, further underscoring the understanding that the Gingriches are a team. A twofer, we dare say, though Newt has been explicit in declaring his wife more Laura Bush than Hillary Clinton. He went even further to say she’s a blend of Laura Bush and Nancy Reagan, with a smidgeon of Jackie Kennedy thrown in.
That’s quite a cocktail – and a high bar for any woman.
There are surely some similarities. Callista and Laura use the same hair salon in Washington. Callista gives Newt the same upward-turned admiring attention that Nancy gave her husband. And her affinity for Tiffany jewels and Mediterranean yachts perhaps makes her Jackie-esque.
On the other hand, maybe Callista Gingrich is simply herself – a full partner in Gingrich Productions, a franchise that sells books, makes documentaries and that has provided a profitable vehicle for promoting a couple with an itch to redecorate the White House.
Part of their routine includes returning to Washington each Sunday so that Callista can take her place in the choir loft at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Last weekend, while other candidates were polishing the doorknobs of Iowa voters, Newt was back here watching Callista play French horn with the City of Fairfax Band. Before that, the two signed books at the Mount Vernon gift shop. Their halos are nearly blinding.
It may have been a spontaneous act of minor recklessness. But it was also certainly more Hillary Clinton than Laura Bush.
Kathleen Parker’s email address is kathleenparker@!washpost.com. She writes for The Washington Post Writers Group.