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The Conservative Backlash Against Newt Gingrich

In a political season known for its twists and turns, this week’s  twist was pretty amazing to watch: the conservative take-down of former House Speaker Newt  Gingrich. In the wake of his big win in  South Carolina, the backlash began this week.  There are some who believe all of this was orchestrated by the Romney  campaign, but I’m not so sure. It’s not  clear to me that the conservative movement likes former Gov. Mitt Romney, either. I don’t buy into the conspiracy—former Gov. Sarah  Palin says the “establishment”  is trying to “crucify” Gingrich, as she defended the First Dude’s endorsement  of Newt—I just think that conservatives who have never liked Speaker  Gingrich but have been holding their tongues suddenly realized that he might  actually have a shot at the nomination.  This week, there was a Speak-Now-or-Forever-Hold-Your-Peace moment. Forever holding one’s peace didn’t look like  a good idea anymore.

The anti-Newt arguments aimed at grassroots conservative voters  came  in rapid fire. Three were  particularly persuasive, and the first of  those was from George Will. If you believe that we need Gingrich because  he’ll beat President Obama in the fall debates, you need to read this:

Just 11 days after finishing fourth in  New Hampshire, Gingrich’s  pugnacity in two debates enraptured South  Carolinians, especially when  he waxed indignant about the supposition that the  risk-taking in his  personal life–e.g., having an affair during an  indignation festival  against Bill Clinton–is pertinent to his fitness for  the presidency.  Gingrich encourages Republican voters to believe he should be   nominated because he would do best in the (at most) three debates with  Barack  Obama. So, because Gingrich might sparkle during four and a half  hours of  debates, he should be given four years of control of nuclear  weapons? Odd.

The second came from former Assistant Secretary of State Eliott   Abrams, who was President Reagan’s point man on fighting the Sandinistas  in the  1980s. In the National Review  this week, Abrams recounted  his personal experience with Gingrich, who  opposed Abrams and  the Reagan administration on fighting the Soviets; he then  names other  members of Congress who were far more supportive of Reagan, namely   Reps. Henry Hyde, Dick Cheney, Dan Burton, Connie Mack, and Tom Delay;  and then ends  by quoting Gingrich insulting Reagan in a 1980s-era floor  statement, all to  devastating effect.

As a new member of Congress in the  Reagan years — and I was an  assistant secretary of state — Mr. Gingrich voted  with the president  regularly, but equally often spewed insulting rhetoric at  Reagan, his  top aides, and his policies to defeat Communism. Gingrich was  voluble  and certain in predicting that Reagan’s policies would fail, and in all   of this he was dead wrong.

The third hit came from R. Emmet Tyrrell,  the former publisher of the conservative American Spectator  magazine. If you  believe that we need Newt Gingrich as our nominee  because of his big ideas and above-average intelligence, you  need to  read “William Jefferson Gingrich” by Tyrrell. He compares the former  president and the  former speaker, after admitting that he first noticed  nearly two decades ago  that “Newt Gingrich is conservatism’s Bill  Clinton, but without the charm”:

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.

So the three biggest attributes that Gingrich supporters point to  as  evidence of his electability—his skill in debates, his support of   Reaganism, and his intellectual prowess—were eviscerated not by  moderates  aligned with Romney but by the most widely-read conservative  columnist,  a  former high-level Reagan official, and one of the most  popular conservative  publishers of the last two decades.  These weren’t  the only ones to come forward this week; there were others  as  well. The tide is turning against  Newt Gingrich, and in any other  election year, I’d say if he loses Florida,  Gingrich is probably  finished. He’s  taken a big hit from conservatives on the right. But  this isn’t any normal election year, and  who knows where we’ll be even a  week from now.  Stay tuned.


By: Mary Kate Cary, U. S. News and World Report, January 27, 2012

January 28, 2012 - Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] The Conservative Backlash Against Newt Gingrich ( […]


    Pingback by Posing, Posturing, Pandering: Will the Real Newt Gingrich Please Stand Up? | Alternative News Report | January 28, 2012 | Reply

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