UPDATE: I published this post regarding the intense anti-Newt pushback I saw yesterday before seeing the following Politico article, which covers many of the same topics, and is itself a great read. Here’s a salient quote from Politico, then the main body of my original post:
A top conservative media figure said the flood of attacks reflects a “Holy crap, it could happen” moment in the movement, as Republican leaders began to realize after Gingrich’s South Carolina victory that he could become the nominee, the global face and voice of their party and theology.
“It could happen, and it would be a disaster,” said the conservative, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect private conversations. “All of us who were around and saw how he operated as speaker — there’s no one who’s not appalled by the prospect of what could happen. He thinks he embodies conservatism and if he wakes up one day and has a grandiose thought, he is going to expect all of us to fall in line behind him.
“There’s just so much risk on so many levels,” the official continued. “Everyone’s thinking, ‘It could really happen.’ He could win the presidency if there’s a way to win with 45 percent — a second recession or a third-party candidate. The immediate worry is him winning the nomination and losing the election, tanking candidates down-ballot. In a worst-case scenario, you could see unified Democratic governance, and we’d be back where we were in ’09 and ’10. It’s insane.”
In what can only be called a deluge of anti-Newt news, people seem to be coming out of the woodwork to tell the real truth about the winner of the South Carolina primaries in order to make sure he doesn’t also win Florida. Insiders know that Newt would be a disastrous nominee for the GOP, and even Nancy Pelosi knows he’d never be president.
Here are a few of my favorite headlines up tonight:
From the Drudge Report: “INSIDER: GINGRICH REPEATEDLY INSULTED REAGAN.” The link is to a National Review story in which a former Reagan administration member tells it like it was regarding Newt: he was often standing against Reagan, particularly in Reagan’s approach to the USSR that Newt today tries to co-opt. Why is this relevant? To hear Newt tell it, he and Ronald Reagan worked hand in hand to defeat communism and save the free world. But in reality while Newt would vote with the caucus, Newt worked against Reagan. One of many damning quotes from this inside source:
Here is Gingrich [saying]: “Measured against the scale and momentum of the Soviet empire’s challenge, the Reagan administration has failed, is failing, and without a dramatic change in strategy will continue to fail. . . . President Reagan is clearly failing.” Why? This was due partly to “his administration’s weak policies, which are inadequate and will ultimately fail”; partly to CIA, State, and Defense, which “have no strategies to defeat the empire.” But of course “the burden of this failure frankly must be placed first on President Reagan.” Our efforts against the Communists in the Third World were “pathetically incompetent,” so those anti-Communist members of Congress who questioned the $100 million Reagan sought for the Nicaraguan “contra” rebels “are fundamentally right.” Such was Gingrich’s faith in President Reagan that in 1985, he called Reagan’s meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev “the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Neville Chamberlain in 1938 in Munich.”
This article is definitely worth a read. It makes clear that Newt does not deserve any of Reagan’s credit for defeating communism.
Next up: “William Jefferson Gingrich.” This article compares Newt’s and Clinton’s most endearing shared qualities. Self-centeredness and a disdain for the rule of law when it disagrees with their own ego. Here’s a good quote, one of many:
Newt and Bill, as 1960s generation self-promoters, share the same duplicity, ostentatious braininess, a propensity for endless scrapes with propriety and the law. They are tireless hustlers. Now Newt is hustling my fellow conservatives in this election. The last time around he successfully hustled conservatives in the House of Representatives and then the conservatives on the House impeachment committee.
He blew the impeachment and in fact his role as Speaker. He backed out in disgrace. He now says Republicans in the House were exhausted with his great projects. Nonsense, I knew many of them, and they were exhausted with his atrocious leadership. He is not a leader. He is a huckster. Today Mitt Romney has 72 Congressional endorsements. Newt has 11. Possibly the 11 have yet to meet him.
Now he has found his key for hustling conservative electorate. He is playing the liberal media card and saying he embodies conservative values. Like Bill with his credulous fans, Newt is hoping conservatives suffer amnesia. Possibly some do. Perhaps they cannot recall mere months ago when this insufferable whiz kid was lambasting the great Congressman Paul Ryan for “right-wing social engineering” — more evidence of Newt’s not-so-hidden longing for the approval of the liberal media.
After his Ryan moment Newt’s campaign was a death wagon, and it will be so again — hopefully before he gets the nomination. Conservatives should not climb onto his death wagon. He is a huckster, and I for one will not be rendered a contortionist trying to defend him. I did so in his earliest days and learned my lesson.
And perhaps the most important quote of the article, warning us against the same result we can expect if we nominate Gingrich (remember Clinton was effectively rendered powerless during the last portion of his presidency due to his personal indiscretions). At a time the GOP really needs the White House to put the country back on the right track, we can’t afford an October surprise, or a post-nomination or post-election surprise:
Conservatives should not be surprised by the scandals that lie ahead, if they stick with [Gingrich]. Those of us, who raised the question of character in 1992, were confronted by an indignant Bill Clinton, treating the topic as a low blow. To listen to him, character was the “c” word of American politics. It was reprehensible to mention it. By now we know. Character matters. Paul, Santorum, and Romney have it. Newt has Clinton’s character.
And here’s even more from someone who was there to remember that Gingrich wasn’t exactly chums with Reagan, despite his laying claim to all of Reagan’s accomplishments now that Reagan is no longer here to defend himself. Mark Shields writes:
At the Reagan presidential library this fall, Gingrich boasted of how “I helped Reagan create millions of jobs while he was president.” And after modestly acknowledging his own less significant role than Reagan’s, added, “We helped defeat the Soviet empire.” Unmentioned by Gingrich then, or in any of the 2,414 debates during this campaign, was his 1985 criticism of President Reagan’s historic meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev as “the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with (British Prime Minister) Chamberlain at Munich in 1938.”
Further, Mr. Shields writes:
…Gingrich, as reported in the Congressional Record, had found Reagan responsible for our national “decay”: “Beyond the obvious indicators of decay, the fact is that President Reagan has lost control of the national agenda.” Students of Newt-speak will recognize that by “decay,” Gingrich was generally referring to factors such as crime, illegitimate births and illiteracy.
These blatant contradictions between what Congressman Gingrich actually said at the time about President Reagan and what Candidate Gingrich now offers as fictitious reminiscences of his unwavering allegiance to Reagan remind me of one of the former speaker’s own broadsides against Washington, D.C. “In this cold and ruthless city,” he once said, “the center of hypocrisy is Capitol Hill.” Newt Gingrich is quite obviously an expert on both subjects.
I think it’s safe to say that Newt does not have any right to claim Reagan was a bosom buddy he worked with. Newt’s petulant character was a thorn in Reagan’s side.
And here’s more about Newt’s difficulty with the facts: tonight Politico reports Newt admits he didn’t tell the truth to ABC.
After nearly a week on the defensive, CNN’s John King reports tonight that Newt Gingrich’s claim about offering witnesses to ABC News in his defense — to rebut the network’s interview with his second wife, Marianne Gingrich — was not true.
“Tonight, after persistent questioning by our staff, the Gingrich campaign concedes now Speaker Gingrich was wrong — both in his debate answer, and in our interview yesterday,” King said on tonight’s edition of John King USA. “Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond says the only people the Gingrich campaign offered to ABC were his two daughters from his first marriage.”
Make sure to watch the video on the linked page. While this doesn’t sound like that big of a deal at first, in Newt’s now famously-emphatic denial of his ex-wife’s claims and his painting of the media as out to get him, a key element of his argument was that Newt had offered up witnesses to ABC to prove his side of the story, but that ABC was not interested in talking to any witnesses because they were simply out to get him. This was the basis of the whole “left wing liberal media bias” argument that deflected so well the whole story of his ex-wife. But it’s clear now there never were any such witnesses. ABC, as it had claimed, never had that opportunity, and therefore the premise of Newt’s argument, that this was all liberal media bias out to get him, and arguably the premise upon which he won South Carolina, was patently false. Perhaps this fib is not on the same level as claiming he wasn’t a lobbyist, but I’m seeing a pattern here with a difficulty in separating truth from fantasy when it’s convenient to get them confused. Not a friend of Reagan, no witnesses, “not a lobbyist,” ethics violations for stonewalling a Congressional committee…the list of problems with the truth just keeps marching on.
Finally, , Drudge directs to a great article by Ann Coulter. She outlines Newt’s many flip-flops (and truly changes in both directions), vs. Mitt’s one honest change of heart converting from pro-choice in liberal Massachusetts (where Kennedy ran an ad accusing him of being a closet pro-lifer) to an actual pro-lifer, not when it was politically convenient, but when it mattered.
Romney changed his mind on abortion — not when it was politically advantageous, but when it mattered. As governor of liberal, pro-choice Massachusetts, he vetoed an embryonic stem cell bill and “worked closely” with Massachusetts Citizens for Life. The president of MCL recently issued a statement saying that, “since being elected governor, Mitt Romney has had a consistent commitment to the culture of life.”
He didn’t defend his changed position by saying he was a “historian,” or denounce people who raised the switch as “fundamentally” dishonest asking “absurd” questions, or go back and forth and back and forth. He just said he changed his mind.
Meanwhile, Gingrich, who has run for office only in a small, majority Republican, undoubtedly pro-life congressional district, lobbied President Bush to support embryonic stem cell research.
Her other criticisms of Newt are many, including:
1. Being such an insider that, quoting Jon Stewart, “when Washington gets its prostate checked, it tickles [Newt]….”
2. Amnesty for illegal immigrants.
– Romney is now the only remaining candidate for president who opposes amnesty for illegals. (Ever since President Bush’s amnesty plan cratered on the shoals of public opposition, no Republican will ever use the word “amnesty,” despite wanting to keep illegals here — just as Democrats refuse to say “abortion,” while supporting every manner of destroying human life.)
Romney supports E-Verify and a fence on the border. As governor he promoted English immersion programs for immigrants, signed an agreement with the federal government allowing state troopers to enforce federal immigration laws, and opposed efforts to give illegal immigrants in-state tuition or driver’s licenses.
At the same time, Romney says he’d like to staple a green card to the diploma of every immigrant here on a student visa who gets a higher degree in math or science.
Gingrich supports importing a slave labor force from Mexico under a “guest worker” program and wants to create government “citizen review boards” to grant amnesty on a case-by-case basis (i.e. all at once) to illegal aliens.
3. Inconstancy on entitlement reform.
– Romney supports entitlement reform along the lines of the Paul Ryan plan, as he has said plainly, but without histrionics, in the debates.
Just last year, Gingrich went on “Meet the Press” and called Ryan’s plan — supported by nearly every House Republican — “right-wing social engineering.”
He apologized for those remarks, then took back his apology, still later doubled down, calling the Ryan plan “suicide,” and now — currently, but it could change any minute — Gingrich supports Ryan’s entitlement reform efforts.
4. Crony capitalism.
– As for crony capitalism, Romney made all his money in the private sector by his own diligence and talent — even giving away all the money he inherited from his parents. He’s never lived in Washington or traded on access to government officials.
Meanwhile, without the federal government, Gingrich would be penniless. He has been in Washington since the ’70s, first as a congressman, then becoming a rich man on the basis of having been a congressman.
Most egregiously, he took $1.6 million to shill for Freddie Mac, one of the two institutions directly responsible for the housing crash that caused the financial collapse. (Or one of three, if you consider Barney Frank an institution.)
If the tea party stands for anything, it stands in absolute opposition to government insiders shoring up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the very time those institutions were blowing up the economy.
5. Obamacare vs. Romneycare. Without repeating here, she dismantles comparisons between Obamacare and Romneycare and repeats for the umpteenth time Mitt’s vow to immediately repeal Obamacare. She lays out why the two are so very different.
Finally, she points out what’s beginning to be obvious: Mitt is the real conservative and Newt is just plain not electable. This is what we’ve been euphemistically calling “baggage” since Newt’s first mini-surge.
In a world where words have meaning, Mitt Romney is not the “moderate” in this race. He is the most conservative candidate still standing, with the possible exception of Rick Santorum, who is bad on illegal immigration. (Santorum voted in the Senate against even the voluntary use of E-Verify by employers, which means he doesn’t want to do anything about illegal immigration at all.)
Romney is “moderate” only in demeanor — which is just another word game. His positions are more conservative than Gingrich’s, but he doesn’t scare people like Gingrich does. Ronald Reagan and Jesse Helms were moderate in demeanor, too. No one would call them political moderates.
Romney is the most electable candidate not only because it will be nearly impossible for the media to demonize this self-made Mormon square, devoted to his wife and church, but precisely because he is the most conservative candidate.
Conservatism is an electable quality. Hotheaded arrogance is neither conservative nor attractive to voters.
Bonus link: a good Wall Street Journal article laying out the case Mitt’s tax returns make for tax reform, and not in the way being promoted by Obama. The WSJ says that Mitt should use his own tax situation as a model and take up the torch to discuss why capital gains should be taxed at a lower rate. I also believe the campaign should “own” the fact that Mitt is wealthy, not be embarrassed by it. There are lots of arguments to be made why Mitt’s success shows he’s the right candidate, and he can make the argument that the top 1% in fact already pay most of the taxes in this country, while the size of the debt is so large that even if you taxed the wealthy at 100% you wouldn’t make a dent in the national debt: what we have is a spending problem, not really a taxing problem.