Whether you call the nearly uniform abandonment of Newt Gingrich by those who served with him a betrayal or not, it’s clear the Romney campaign is delighted with the tenor. Romney’s latest attempt to question the Gingrich’s campaign assertion that he worked closely with President Reagan and Jack Kemp to carry out Reagan policies is pointing at only a single mention of Newt Gingrich in the Reagan Diaries.
Intimating that Newt Gingrich was anything other than a foot soldier for Ronald Reagan is a total rewrite of the historical facts. Nancy Reagan specifically stated that her husband passed on the conservative torch to Gingrich. Reagan’s biographer Craig Shirley stated that Newt was very close to the administration and was frequently mentioned by the president. Reagan National Security Advisor Bud McFarlane said that in his days in the Reagan Administration it was routine to see Gingrich at the White House.
“Whether it was an appropriation measure or authorization bills or on matters of policy the president could always count on Congressman Gingrich to be a very enthusiastic supporter,” McFarlane said. “Whether it was for the defense budget itself and rebuilding the foundation of our deterrent at a time when it had languished in the Carter years … it was a reliable voice in Congressman Gingrich … to be supportive of President Reagan’s policies and it was quite enthusiastic on the part of Congressman Gingrich.”
Craig Shirley said, “And it’s really in my mind kind of ridiculous that Mitt Romney or others would make some kind of charge that Gingrich wasn’t a Reaganite. He was always a supporter of the Reagan initiatives all through those years.”
On Fox News Channel Sarah Palin said, “Look at Newt Gingrich, what’s going on with him via the establishment’s attacks. They’re trying to crucify this man and rewrite history and rewrite what it is that he has stood for all these years.”
Palin, a Tea Party favorite and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee unleashed a torrent against the GOP establishment’s attacks on Newt Friday on her Facebook page decrying their use of left-wing tactics to disrupt the Gingrich campaign.
“The Republican establishment which fought Ronald Reagan in the 1970s and which continues to fight the grassroots Tea Party movement today has adopted the tactics of the left in using the media and the politics of personal destruction to attack an opponent,” Palin wrote. “What we saw with this ridiculous opposition dump on Newt was nothing short of Stalin-esque rewriting of history. It was Alinsky tactics at their worst.”
Fortunately many Reagan White House insiders are beginning to emerge to defend Gingrich, but the rift seems to show a distinct split among establishment Republican forces and those which were part and parcel of the Gingrich Revolution of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Romney has chosen to take up the mantel of the “Good Old Boys” network and is playing a dangerous game to garner votes in the primaries that will likely leave him without a unified party if he should prevail.
Romney’s claim that Gingrich resigned from Congress in disgrace is perhaps the most disingenuous of the claims that will surely leave behind a scar heading into the 2012 election. The fact that 83 of the 84 ethics charges against Gingrich were summarily dismissed and the last charge was a paperwork mistake had nothing to do with Gingrich’s departure from Congress. Gingrich agreed to pay $300,000 to defray the costs of the investigation against him to put the matter to rest. There was no fine or other penalty placed upon Mr. Gingrich.
The loss of seats in the ’96 election was the primary cause of Gingrich’s choice to forego a fight for his speakership. The Democrats had focused on Gingrich for years, throwing up baseless charge after baseless charge to make Newt the issue. Newt came to the conclusion that the “boogyman” the Democrats had created was harmful to the party and country he loved. Having accomplished all he felt he could in the GOP leadership, Gingrich chose to leave the Congress to seek other challenges. Gingrich’s departure was more than 2 years after the resolution of all ethics charges and no disgrace or ethical issues played into Newt’s decision. Romney’s claim is a flat-out lie.
Romney’s political action committee and the governor himself stand to benefit from this misinformation, but the gain will be short-lived. In an odd turn-about if Romney is successful in achieving the nomination he may find the Obama campaign machine exposing his deceptions about Gingrich in the presidential election which would likely cause many Republicans to stay home rather than cast a vote for Romney.
The Republicans are scrambling to seize defeat from the jaws of victory, and certainly the Obama-Chicago Democrats must be having a wonderful time watching the GOP devour itself.