Somehow or another, the case against Newt Gingrich as a presidential candidate has devolved, apparently, into a discussion of his marital history. My brother, the excellent journalist David S. Bernstein, nails this one, so I'll just send you there. I've called Newt, as a candidate, Sarah Palin without the strong supporters but with a marital history worse than John Edwards, so I suppose I'm guilty of it too -- but the real point is that Sarah Palin, with the strong supporters and without personal negatives of that kind is still not a much of a nomination candidate. In other words, I don't think a Caesar's wife version of Newt goes anywhere. Or, as Alex Massie puts it, he's "a buffoon, wrapped in a charlatan, inside a cad...whose chief aim in life is to persuade gullible journalists he's a figure of substance."
But on to more fun stuff and real candidates. You know what's odd about the GOP field for 2012? As far as I can tell, no one has been married twice. Exactly twice, I mean; Newt, and Buddy Roemer, are over quota for that one (at least I think that's right -- wikipedia has Roemer on wife #2, but numerous recent articles have him on #3). Also: Buddy Roemer! Heh.
All of which spoiled my plans for writing a mock-serious post about how candidate X was certain to win because all GOP nominees for the last thirty years have either been Bushes or divorced and remarried. Once. (That's Reagan, Dole, and McCain). I was all ready to go, with all sorts of bogus reasons for why it was a de facto qualification (yes, the word gravitas would have been used. Also, something about energy in the executive. And capacity for ruthlessness. And an almost fanatical devotion to the...oh, that's something else). I still could have gone for a more obvious one about how Mitt Romney is probably willing to divorce and remarry if that's what it would take to win it, but then I'd get Brendan Nyahn on my case, so I'll leave it to someone else.
Anyway, some data. The six leading contenders for the 2008 nomination (McCain, Romney, Huck, Paul, Fred Thompson, Giuliani) had been married a total of ten times, per wikipedia. In 2000, only McCain had been married more than once. In 1996, Dole was the only one (I'm not checking all of the marginal contenders, and again I have no idea how complete wikipedia might be).
Might as well run the comparison...John Kerry is the only Democratic nominee to be divorced and remarried. In 2008, Chris Dodd had done so, and Dennis Kucinick, for whatever it's worth, was on wife #3. In 2004 you have Kerry, Kucinich, and Joe Lieberman. None of the major contenders in 2000 or 1992 had been divorced at that point, so apart from Kerry no one in this category has come close, at least as far as I can remember.
So it's not as if overwhelming numbers of GOP presidential candidates have been divorced and remarried, compared to the Democrats. And it's probably just dumb luck that three of the last five Republican nominations have gone to twice-married candidates. I'll also mention that unless I'm forgetting something none of the GOP VP nominees have been divorced, while the Democrats have had one, Joe Lieberman. Still, it's worth noting, no?