Bob Woodward had a lengthy article yesterday in The Washington Post, In his debut in Washington’s power struggles, Gingrich threw a bomb.
The article concerns Newt’s refusal as Republican Whip to go along with George H.W. Bush’s 1990 deal with Democrats to raise taxes.
The deal, which breached Bush’s “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge, was one of the worst political mistakes in memory. Newt’s public opposition is one of the reasons the Republican old-time establishment, like John Sununu, hate Newt so intensely.
After a lengthy interview on Dec. 11, 1992, [Newt] sent a reporter a memo trying to explain the budget communications problem. It is a classic of Gingrich paradox.
“I was telling precisely the truth but by Washington standards I was lying,” he wrote. “They were lying but by Washington standards they were telling the truth. I thought I was being very precise in setting standards, they thought I was outlining a negotiating position. I knew I could and would walk. They knew I had to stay.” …
Gingrich had been warned about this moment. He said that a group of senior Republicans who had served in previous administrations told him he would have to cave in when a deal was struck.
“They all said, ‘Well [the White House and the congressional Democrats] will in the end cut a deal and they will in the end call you in a room and they will tell you, you have to agree.’ And I said, ‘Boys, there’s not a chance in hell I’m going to agree . . .’ And they all said, ‘Yes, you will, you just don’t understand, yes, you will.’ ”
Supporters of the Bush tax deal blamed Newt for initially indicating he would go along and then refusing to do so. But the evidence in the article is not clear, documenting that Newt insisted on time for consideration before making a commitment.
Call this whole story a parable of what is wrong with the Republican Party. People who cut deals which sell out our principles are deemed reasonable, while those refuse to cut deals are called bomb throwers. That’s the term Bush used in endorsing Romney in an oblique swipe at Newt.
In 1990 it was Newt, in 2011 it’s House Tea Party Republicans. They were wrong in 1990 and they are wrong now.
And now they are propelling the ultimate deal cutter towards the nomination. And once again, Newt is standing in their way.
Related: Defeat National Review.