There’s a remarkable thing going on right now in the Republican presidential primary: there is a concerted effort from all parts of the Republican party, from moderates to hardcore conservatives to stop Newt Gingrich from winning the Republican nomination.
I honestly can’t recall ever seeing anything like it before.
I’ve been leading the charge on Bearing Drift to fight against Newt’s revisionist tendencies and to bring to light how ridiculous much of what he has been saying is. I noted last week how his anti-establishment rhetoric was nonsense, and I’ve pointed out before the damage he did to Washington in his time there.
Over the last few days, the rest of the party seems to have finally woken up to the fact that Gingrich could potentially win the nomination (although I still believe it unlikely – I have faith that the voters can see through his finely spun nonsense) and that result would doom our chances to win the White House and Senate in November.
The list of folks who have come out attacking Newt’s version of history is significant. Drudge and others have been hammering Newt for his constant name dropping of Ronald Reagan when the evidence indicates that Newt was not a Reagan supporter in Congress. Elliot Abrams, a former Reagan assistant Secretary of State, attacks Newt’s claims that he worked with Reagan by pointing out multiple times where Newt viciously attacked the President on record, going so far as to calling Reagan’s Administration a “failure,” “pathetically incompetent” and even comparing Reagan to Neville Chamberlain for his historic summit with Mikhail Gorbachev. Mark Shields, the veteran PBS political commentator, says much the same thing here. There’s even video of Newt saying George H.W. Bush couldn’t win in 1988 if he ran under a campaign of four more years of Reaganism – which he did and he won big.
That blows up Newt’s constant attempts to claim some kind of credit for the Reagan years. It’s easy to take credit for someone else’s success, especially if you were present, but those claims ring hollow when you spent half your time tearing down what the successful guy was trying to do.
His own spin on his history in Congress is also being reviewed. Ann Coulter continues her attacks on Newt’s claims that he’s the most conservative in the race by pointing out a dozen contradictions between Newt’s current and past positions. Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who worked with Newt as his Whip during the Newt’s Speakership, says Newt isn’t a conservative and he was both “erratic” and “undisciplined.”
It’s even come out that Newt lied in his response to John King’s “absurd” question about the ABC News article when he claimed that his campaign had offered multiple personal friends to appear on camera to rebut the claims Newt’s second wife Marianne made in the Nightline interview before South Carolina. That wasn’t true – he had only offered his daughters from his first marriage. Normally I would give Newt the benefit of the doubt and say he was simply mistaken, but given his track record when it comes to making things up, I can’t help but think he knew the truth and deliberately exaggerated to make his passionate deflection of King’s legitimate question sound better.
And the founder and editor in chief of the American Spectator hit Newt hard in a column Wednesday, labeling him “William Jefferson Gingrich” and saying that he suffers from being a “1960s generation narcissist.”
Newt has single-handedly gained the ire of nearly the entire conservative media, from Rush Limbaugh to Ann Coulter, from the National Review to the American Spectator, and from folks who worked with him like Tom DeLay and many others. This is unprecedented. About the only other person out there who could bring out that kind of ire from those folks is Barack Obama.
That means something. This isn’t just Brian the NOVA Moderate from Bearing Drift saying these things – the leaders of conservative thought, the folks that we listen to when we want intelligent commentary, they are all saying the same thing. This goes beyond the “establishment” in Washington. It’s being said by folks all along the center right spectrum, including many of the outlets and people we go to first when we want ammunition to fight the Democrats. Can they all be wrong? Can they all be part of some massive conspiracy? I don’t think so. When so many people are saying the same thing, it’s time to start listening.
I sincerely hope that my friends who still don’t like Mitt Romney will at least recognize that Newt is not the right alternative to Mitt. While Rick Santorum is a flawed candidate, he is not as dangerous to the party and the country as Newt Gingrich is.
If Gingrich manages to pull off a win in Florida, he has a chance to win the nomination. And that would be disastrous for the Republican Party, for conservatism in general, and for the country.