In another one of his oddly inappropriate choices, President Trump is about to nominate a woman without diplomatic credentials, with little business experience and only minor government service, as his ambassador to the Vatican.
What that woman has going for her is that she is the wife of serial adulterer and former Republican Congressman Newt Gingrich, who finally gets some payoff for his undying loyalty to Trump and his efforts as a Trump surrogate during the 2016 presidential campaign.
It has been a long wait for Gingrich, who at times has had a contentious relationship with Trump.
After teasing during the transition that the former Speaker of the House (1995 to 1999) might be Trump’s vice president, and then possibly a member of his cabinet, Trump will finally pay off the much mocked Georgian by naming his third wife, Callista, as the ambassador to the Vatican, according to the New York Times.
This is being announced on the eve of Trump’s initial visit to the Vatican on May 24; which will be his first face-to-face meeting as president with Pope Francis. This follows months of a contentious relationship that has played out in the press.
During the presidential campaign, Pope Francis questioned Trump’s Christian faith when he said to the media: “A person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not a Christian.” Trump call those remarks “disgraceful.”
The Pope, an advocate for poor and needy people and critic of the arrogant super-rich, has also been a strong advocate of addressing climate change. The Pope has supported the science around global warming while Trump doesn’t believe it is a real issue.
There have been other digs and contrary remarks since, mostly about Trump’s lack of Christian values, which may be why his meeting with the Pope was the last minute addition to his first foreign trip.
In choosing Calista Gingrich, Trump may have other agendas. Media reports say that Trump in January told aides in what was later described as a half-joke, that picking Mrs. Gingrich would get her husband out of his hair. Trump later denied making that remark.
Callista Gingrich, who is about 20 years younger than her husband, is a native of Wisconsin, who got her only government experience as an aide to a Congressman (1988-1995) and as Chief Clerk of the House Agricultural Committee (1995-1997).
It was in 1993, while she was working in Washington, that the then-Callista Bisek began a six-year affair with Gingrich, He was then the House Whip and married to his second wife, with whom he had married after having an affair while still married to his first wife, who is the mother of his two children.
There have been multiple reports that his second wife was in the hospital sick recovering from a cancer surgery when Gingrich approached her about a divorce. She later said her husband wanted an open marriage so he could continue his affair with Callista, but she refused. He denied that.
The divorce was granted in December 1999. Gingrich married Callista two months later.
Gingrich had been born a Southern Baptist and for many years was a Lutheran. His second wife was a Deacon of the Baptist Church in Georgia when they lived there.
After he married Callista, he took her Catholic religion in 2009. To do so, he had to get the Catholic Church in Atlanta to grant an annulment to his 17-year first marriage on the basis his wife had been previously married. The church apparently also chose to ignore his second marriage. His union with Callista was recognized by the church as his only marriage.
Callista joined her husband after their marriage in his production company, which produces historical and documentary films, publishes books and newsletters. In 2015, it released a documentary about Christmas in America. She has also written children’s books and has joined him in TV and radio appearances, including during his failed campaign for president in 2012.
She has also written children’s books and has joined him in TV and radio appearances, including during his failed campaign for president in 2012.
Her appointment to the Vatican post follows in Trump’s mold of appointing people who are not qualified, and in some cases were diametrically opposed to the agency they were chosen to head. For instance, the head of the EPA had sued the EPA and his Energy Secretary once said he wanted to eliminate the Energy Department.
At least Callista is a real Catholic, who is a member of her church choir, and her husband has been loyal, for the most part, to Trump, which is the primary qualification for being part of his administration.
How Callista will handle the Pope continuing to promote human rights when Trump doesn’t, calling for more resources for the poor, elderly and needy as Trump cuts them back and his aggressive promotion of addressing global warming as Trump refuses to do so will test whether she really has any diplomatic skills.
At least Gingrich, who plans to continue to live in Virgian and travel to Rome, will be kept busy and out of that mess of orange stuff that passes for Trump’s hair.