I met Newt Gingrich early in 1995 after I wrote a book, The Tragedy of American Compassion, that he read, liked, and recommended to others. I became an unofficial advisor to him regarding welfare reform that year, and met many of what are now his "former close advisors." I retain a great respect for him but I also wrote a history book in the late 1990s, The American Leadership Tradition, that views unfaithfulness to a wife as often a leading indicator of unfaithfulness to the nation.
This does not mean that a person who has committed adultery will necessarily be a bad president, and it certainly does not mean that someone who is faithful in marriage will be a good president—but, as Gingrich said in 1999, voters "have the right to know everything about a presidential candidate, everything, because they're going to be in an Oval Office with nuclear weapons, and you have the right to know in advance 'Who is this person?'"
It's ironic that Mr. Gingrich points to the very thing that could be the biggest hurdle in a potential presidential campaign. His own past may come back to haunt him and cost him votes, particularly among evangelicals. It's not clear whether his extramarital affair is an insurmountable obstacle to a White House bid. If the recent media attention from his appearance on "Focus on the Family" is any indication, he will likely face intense scrutinity from the mainstream media should he decide to run.
There is no doubt that Newt Gingrich is one of the smartest men in politics today. He has more ideas in a day than many leaders have in an entire career. But perhaps he would be better suited serving within an administration as an adviser rather than as President.