Sunday, January 29, 2012

Another View of the Gingrich vs Reagan Argument

Steven Hayward of Powerline web log posts a well-written and resourceful attempt to put into better perspective the recent dispute about the level of support that Newt Gingrich gave to Ronald Reagan.  I commend it to you as a valuable and objective addition to the argument.  Better, I expect, than the disappointing release by Sarah Palin (who endorsed Gingrich but only specifically in the South Carolina primary).  She makes an able case that there is a large bone of contention now within the Republican Party between the Establishment and its more right-wing Tea Party adherents, but her argument is distilled down to something like “Can’t we all just get along?  And, by ‘get along’, I mean support Newt Gingrich.”

Steven makes the case that Gingrich was a more staunch ally of Reagan than some of these criticisms would appear, and then paradoxically that he was not alone in his disparaging comments.  He also includes a brief remembrance of Gingrich’s well-played move in 1984 with the ‘Dear Comandante’ letter of the Democrat pro-Sandanista caucus in the House, which ultimately allowed an embarrassing and public set-back (as seen on C-SPAN) for Speaker Tip O’Neill, but also exposed the Republican Minority Leader Bob Michel as a ‘go along/get along’ Establishment mollifier, rather than someone who would take the battle to the Democrats on behalf of Reagan and those actually making a stand against the Soviet empire and its proxies.

Steven concludes the article with a good summation of the point:

The real question concerning Newt is not whether he has changed his mind or conveniently forgotten about his occasional distemper with Reagan, but whether he perceives or has acquired the same kind of prudence we now recognize Reagan to have had much more clearly than many of us did at the time.  Elliott [Abrams], Pete [Wehner], John [Hinderaker], and everyone else are right to raise the question of whether Newt’s peripatetic speculations and outbursts give us ample cause to doubt an affirmative answer; certainly his opportunistic attack on Bain Capital a couple weeks back was deeply imprudent.  But let us also have the whole picture and complete context in mind, and give the man his due.
Give the man his due, certainly, but I stand by my earlier post that Gingrich is imprudent to continually proclaim that he was always lock-step with Reagan.  There is plenty of evidence to show that this was not the case, and while it can be said that Gingrich was attacking Reagan from the right (and unjustly as it turned out, once all the then-hidden information came to light), and that there were others attacking him as well (but they are not running for President), it is a true indicator of Gingrich’s liberal use of hyperbole.  If he doesn’t become more disciplined in these grandiose pronouncements, he will continually stumble into trouble.

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