The headline says it all. Would-be presidential contender and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich explained away his screwing around on two former wives by recently telling a Christian Broadcasting Network interviewer, “There’s no question that at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and that things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”
Now there’s an understatement that takes the notion of ‘taking one for the team’ to an entirely different level. See “Eye of The Newt” by Gail Collins in “The New York Times.”
Newt’s on his third marriage after screwing around on his first wife, Jackie, who was recovering from uterine cancer when he sprang the news about divorcing her. His second wife, Marianne, was suffering from multiple sclerosis when he jumped the shark to be with another woman and told her he wanted out of the marriage.
But in bringing up pointy-headed Newt, it isn’t so much to put too fine a point on thinking with the wrong head while working “far too hard.” I bring him up instead as a take-off toward gaining a better understanding of the underlying rationale of Texas lawyers who recently voted down a proposed new ethical rule barring sex with clients.
It was attention-grabbing news, especially since most, if not all, state supreme courts in other jurisdictions already prohibit cliental carnal knowledge. Besides being unseemly and violative of the age-old rule about not getting your nookie where you get your cookies, it’s also called conflict of interest. And indeed, the Texas Supremes may have the last work on the subject, anyway.
But when “Texas Lawyers Reject Ban on Sex with Clients,” one offered explanation was that the lawyers weren’t so much against the proposed rule as they were protesting the amendment process. That’s one heck of a protest vote when a whopping 72 percent of the lawyers in Texas said “no” to banning sex with clients.
There were six ballot questions on the proposed amendments to the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. As recapped by the results, all of the proposals went down to defeat so it wasn’t just about screwing around with not screwing around.
But to follow Newt’s lead, I think there’s possibly one more explanation for the thumbs down on getting down. Paraphrasing the inimitable rationalization of the Newt, I think it’s because, as zealous advocates, lawyers “partially driven by how passionately [they feel] about [their clients], that [they] work far too hard and that things happen in their lives that while not appropriate shouldn’t be sanctionable.”
This is inspiring stuff. Many lawyers do work too hard. And Lord knows, many lawyers are way too passionate.
The weakness of caring too much.
The last prominent philandering lawyer with a gift for such rationalization was John Edwards. But far as I know, he wasn’t carrying on at the law office. Turns out, he was just caring too much – – – about people. Oy vey!
What Edwards said was in response to an inane question during the 2008 presidential debate. Along with the other candidates on the stage at the Democratic Debate in January 2008, Edwards was asked, “What’s your greatest weakness?” He replied that, “I care too much.” See “My Weakness Is That I Care Too Much” – Commentary Magazine.
So if lawyers in Texas feel chastened by media fallout and feel they have to justify their vote against sex with clients, all they need to remember is that between the intersection of feeling too much passion and working too hard, they can simply add that they care too much.