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    One brave soul at National Review stands up for Newt

    One brave soul at National Review stands up for Newt

    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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    Henry Hawkins | December 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    McCain didn’t run in 2008. He tiptoed.

    Henry Hawkins | December 17, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    “But Henry! Romney is the electable one! Everyone says so!”

    Truth is not a democracy, determined by how many people happen to believe a thing, but that’s just logic and of no use in a political campaign. What then is Romney’s actual electability record?

    Romney is 1 for 3 in elections, 1 for 4 if you count his refusal to run for reelection as governor of
    Massachusetts, so certain was his defeat. He ran to the LEFT of Ted Kennedy and lost. He won his first attempt for governor, then declined reelection for a second term. He lost the GOP nomination in 2008 to… some guy, I forget now. Bob Dole was it? Doesn’t matter now.

    “But Henry! Massachusetts is so liberal! It’s all Democrats! And Romney made them all his bitches!”

    True enough, Massachusetts enjoys a gross Democrat majority (with an emphasis on ‘gross’), and liberalism blossoms there like mold in a cave, but again.. truth, not democracy, ad populum, etc., etc. What’s the actual record there?

    When Romney assumed the governorship in Jan 2003, his was the fourth Republican governorship in a row. The last elected Democrat was Dukakis in 1986. Either a Republican or a Democrat has been governor of Massachusetts since 1858, for a total of 50 different administrations 1858 to the present. Of those 50 administrations, 33 or 66% have been Republican. Two out of every three Massachusetts were Republicans over the last 150 years, and when Romney took office, he was the fourth Republican governor in a row.

    Winning the governorship in Massachusetts as a Republican is no great achievement, in fact, no other political party has come close to winning as often.

    Romney was a snake charmer to Democrats in Massachusetts? Uh… no. Instead, Romney did so poorly he declined to even try reelection and thereby ended a decade-plus long Republican dominance of the Massachusetts governorship.

    The great electability of Mitt Romney is a myth. His hard record is a sorry 25-33% success rate, depending on how you count. The great crossover/bipartisan appeal of Romney is a myth. Though it seems counterintuitive, in fact, Massachusetts is a state that routinely elects Republican governors.

    With respect to my own respect for logic, I must say that none of the above means Romney is unelectable. I’m just saying that Romney’s alleged great electability and his supposed mastery over even Democrats is not supported by the evidence presented by his advocates.

    He has undeniable skills as a businessman, but we must ask ourselves – how many American businessmen and women have the same or greater skills? Are his so great or so rare?

    I was a kid in Michigan when Mitt’s father, George Romney, was governor of Michigan. Mitt was born to great wealth – no crime there. Mitt went on to great success in corporate America and augmented an already famous family name. No one would have beaten Ted Kennedy in a statewide election, and certainly not a Republican. The Kennedy name is one of few in Massachusetts that exceeds in fame and fortune that of the Romneys. I suspect that voters in Massachusetts were highly curious to see how such a business success might do as a governor, elected him, and decided one term was enough, thank you very much. Grossly negative polls convinced Romney not to run again, so he turned his eyes towards the 2008 GOP nomination – and failed there too.

    Romney as GOP nominee will not be able to confront Obama on Obamacare, since Obamacare was based on Romneycare, indeed, many of the same policy technicians worked on both. The ugly, corrupt process employed by the Democrats to pass Obamacare was the primary catalyst that spawned and so energized the Tea Party movement, a movement primarily responsible for the 2010 midterm election landslide by the GOP. Obamacare was bad enough on its own, but it also epitomized so much else with which conservative, moderate, and centrist Americans have grown so disgusted: big government, high taxes, profligate spending, huge deficits, self-serving politicians, gross corruption, inept and ineffective governance, and on and on. The percentage of Americans who want Obamacare repealed is 55% and rising.
    Romney says about Obamacare that we should “keep the good parts and repeal the bad parts.” Great. Now the Obama team can say that not only did Romney essentially create the template for Obamacare, he supports it at least in parts; Romney admits “parts” of Obamacare are good.

    In other words, a Romney nomination takes Obamacare off the table as an issue to deploy against Obama.

    I will ask two questions I cannot get an answer for, online or in real life, among my friends, family, neighbors, and employees who currently support Romney. They are not rhetorical; I genuinely cannot get answers beyond those refuted above:

    1) What is it that makes Romney any more or less electable than any other leading candidate, let alone makes him THE electable one?

    2) What exactly has Romney ever done to further conservatism, aside from changing his principles to acquire conservative positions (aka ‘flipflopping’) whenever it was politically expedient?

      gabilange in reply to Henry Hawkins. | December 17, 2011 at 4:49 pm

      Very good indeed, Henry. No data for electability. Where are they? Just an “Ah Declare” by somebody or other. And dutifully echoed by the herd. As for Flippity Flopper, I’m lost to him before he is anointed, if that happens. They’re sure trying hard to make the fix “in.”

    Henry Hawkins | December 17, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    The liberals love big government because they sincerely (if errantly) believe it is the best way to govern the nation.
    If it also provides Democrat incumbents opportunities for personal enrichment, well, that’s just an unplanned perquisite they must accept, heh, heh.

    The establishment GOP loves big-but-not-so-big-as-the-Dems- want government, but don’t enjoy the excuse of being sincerely dead wrong. They love it specifically for the goodies it provides. This is why the hypocritical RINO, wherever you find it, is hated even more than the flaming radical lib Democrat. The latter is a sincere idiot, the former a cynical turncoat.

    Of *course* the Democrats don’t want to see a conservative in the White House or conservative (as opposed to merely GOP) majorities in either House of Congress – this is only natural. But the establishment GOP doesn’t want to see that either and for precisely the same reason – a conservative majority-run government would end the great gravy train that is currently enjoyed by both parties. The GOP would rather see Democrats in power who’ll at least let them slop at the trough than conservatives in power who will eliminate the trough. Both the Dems and the establishment GOP believe that sweet, sweet gravy train can be kept going for several more election cycles before it finally becomes existentially critical to stop kicking the can down the road and do something about our fiscal debt and imbalances.
    Both would milk the cow till not *quite* dead and then leave office, pockets bulging with taxpayer gold.

    The battle for America’s future is NOT between the GOP and Obama. The battle for America’s future is between the conservative citizenry and the establishment wing of the GOP, because the establishment wing of the GOP has proved its ineptitude over and over. They will set up a presidential election that guarantees either of two outcomes they’d find acceptable: huge government run by liberal Dems that still lets them feed, or the 90% of huge government their own chosen squish would preside over.

    Picture this citizen as he is – sitting before the monitor screen, reading the news, stories, and data as he sharpens the tines on his pitchfork waiting on ‘the call’.

    jeannebodine | December 17, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    McCarthy’s piece was superb. He is one of the few over at NRO that I really respect.

    Ramesh Ponnuru’s follow-up post on The Corner today regarding Andy’s column seems petty & illogical and I think provides an example of why Mr. Ponnuru’s leadership has done nothing to further NR as a leader of the newly revived conservative movement.

    BannedbytheGuardian | December 17, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    I might have gone there 2 or 3 times in 08 but can only remember the cruise details.

    Give me The Minnow any day.

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