There is something truly obscene about the full blown assault on Newt Gingrich’s strong Reagan conservative history from and on behalf of Mitt Romney, who unabashedly ran away from the Reagan legacy and conservative principles in his 1994 Senate campaign and 2002 gubernatorial campaign. Truly obscene.
The latest iteration comes from Elliott Abrams writing in National Review, quoting pieces of a single speech Newt apparently gave on the floor of the House on March 21, 1986, in which Newt criticized certain foreign policy decisions of the Reagan administration. Abrams does not link to the full speech or to other speeches of Newt at the time.
Instead much of the anti-Newt conservative media — including a screaming Drudge banner — accuses Newt of “insulting” Reagan. It is part of a smear campaign which started when Newt surged in Iowa and National Review unloaded with it’s infamous “Marvin the Maritan” issue, and now it has resurfaced once again now that Romney is in electoral trouble.
A more honest assessment comes from Jeffrey Lord at The American Spectator. Lord, who was in a position to know because he witnessed first hand Newt’s interaction with Reagan, has written a critical column, Reagan’s Young Lieutenant, Much like Byron York’s column debunking Romney attacks regarding Newt’s ethics charges, Lord’s column is a critical contribution to the truth in a sea of shameless lies.
Lord portrays Newt in a much more favorable light:
Newt Gingrich was part of the Reagan Revolution’s Murderers’ Row. And anybody who was in Washington in the day, much less in the Reagan White House or the 1984 Reagan re-election campaign (and I would make that particular cut of three), knew it….
…. time after time after time in the Reagan years, a number of those times which I had the opportunity to see up close as a young Reagan staffer charged in my duties with being the White House liaison to Gingrich and Kemp’s Conservative Opportunity Society, Newt Gingrich was out there again and again and again for Ronald Reagan and conservative principles. In his own memoirs, The Politics of Diplomacy, James Baker noted of his days as Reagan White House Chief of Staff that he always “worked closely” with the people Baker described as “congressional leaders.” And who were those leaders? Baker runs off a string of names of the older leaders of both House and Senate in the formal positions of power — plus one. That’s right: young Newt Gingrich….
…..But whatever happens, quite unlike the picture Romney is trying to paint of his prime opponent in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich was very much present and accounted for on the Reagan team. To borrow from Reagan’s farewell address to the nation and the men and women who served him, Newt Gingrich wasn’t just marking time. He made a difference. He helped make that City on a Shining Hill stronger. He helped make the City freer.
Quite to the contrary of the Romney message, Newt Gingrich was in fact one of Reagan’s Young Lieutenants.
One of the best.
At the 1995 Goldwater Institute Dinner honoring President Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich was the keynote speaker. Nancy Reagan gave a short speech on behalf of herself and President Reagan, in which she both spoke warmly of Newt and recognized Newt at the heir to the Goldwater and Reagan legacies:
The dramatic movement of 1995 is an outgrowth of a much earlier crusade that goes back half a century. Barry Goldwater handed the torch to Ronnie, and in turn Ronnie turned that torch over to Newt and the Republican members of Congress to keep that dream alive.
Nancy Reagan had it right, as does Jeffrey Lord. Newt was part of the Reagan revolution and he was the heir to that legacy, not alone, but as someone to whom the torch had been passed.
That torch never was passed to Mitt Romney, and if it had been, he would have rejected it:
The promotion of Romney’s presidential aspirations has forced much of the conservative media to conflate capitalism and free markets with the Bain business model, a position we will live to regret.
So too, in order to promote someone who never was part of the Reagan revolution and opposed the conservative agenda of the 1990s, we are willing to reinvent and distort the history of conservatism.
We deserve what we get.
- Drudge versus history
- Mitt Romney’s shameless use of Nancy Pelosi
- Shock, video of Newt bashing Reagan misleadingly edited
(Added) At the debate Thursday night, Romney completely backed away from the attack on Newt’s connection with Reagan, implicitly admitting that the attacks on Newt were without basis: