As I pointed out the other day, National Review demeaned itself and its many talented writers by going overboard in its attempt to demonize Newt Gingrich, including a cover which should live in conservative infamy.

Newt as crazy outer-space martian is what passes for analysis at what once was, and in many ways still is, the premier conservative publication.  Sadly, Mark Steyn, someone for whom I have a lot of respect, has the lead article in the upcoming issue which will be devoted almost entirely to creating a cartoon caricature of Newt.

There was a reflexive reaction from some writers at National Review to defend, but Andrew McCarthy so far appears to be the only writer with the courage to stand up not so much for Newt, but for conservative journalistic integrity which was sorely lacking.

McCarthy published his dissent today (h/t JimMtnViewCaUSA in the Tip Line), Gingrich’s Virtues:

I respectfully dissent from National Review’s Wednesday-evening editorial, which derided Newt Gingrich as not merely flawed but unfit for consideration as the GOP presidential nominee….

The editorial surprised me, as it did many readers. I am now advised that the timing was driven by the editorial’s inclusion in the last edition of the magazine to be published this year, which went to press on Wednesday. The Editors believe, unwisely in my view, that before the first caucuses and primaries begin in early January, it is important to make known their insights — not merely views about the relative merits of the candidates but conclusions that some candidates are no longer worthy of having their merits considered….

Regarding former Speaker Gingrich, I have no objection to the cataloguing of any candidate’s failings, and Newt has certainly made his share of mistakes. But there ought to be balance — balance between a candidate’s failings and his strengths, balance between the treatment of that candidate and of his rivals. The editorial fails on both scores.

Gingrich’s virtues are shortchanged — his great accomplishment in balancing the federal budget is not even mentioned, an odd omission in an election that is primarily about astronomical spending. His downsides are exaggerated in two unbecoming ways.

For the Editors to single out Gingrich for this kind of raking — particularly when his accomplishments in government dwarf anything his rivals have managed to achieve — fails the test of judgment conservatives expect from National Review. The transcendent mission of our founder calls for explicating principled conservative arguments about the great issues of the day, not “winnowing” intra-GOP primaries….

Second is the personal stuff. As the Editors point out, Newt has been a major figure in our politics for a very long time. We all know the marital history, and we all know it is relevant. There is, however, no need to dwell on it beyond saying it is obviously an issue voters must weigh — though hardly the top of the list. Yet the Editors make it the top of the list. It is Count One of their indictment, and they make sure to spell out that we’re talking not only about divorces but also about multiple marriages to “mistresses.” Later, just in case we’ve been too dense to get the Newt-is-a-betrayal-waiting-to-happen point, the Editors conclude by admonishing Republicans “to reject a hasty marriage to Gingrich, which would risk dissolving in acrimony” — the lasting impression they decided was worth emblazoning in big bold letters at the top of the homepage all day long. This has all the subtlety of Obama’s class-warfare tropes….

…  I would not complain if my colleagues were simply assessing both sides of the ledger and deciding that other candidates are preferable to Gingrich. But to conclude that he is unfit, as the Editors do, is not only wrong; it is a gross exaggeration.

Read the whole thing.  This excerpt has not done it justice.  While the column is directed mostly towards Newt, McCarthy also defends other candidates whom National Review disqualified.

In McCarthy’s dissent we see the cream of the conservative punditry showing a great deal of class at a time when many others are not.

Kudos to Andrew McCarthy.


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