The I of Newt

Many conservatives have seized on Newt Gingrich as, apparently, the last viable alternative to Mitt Romney. This, in turn, has horrified lots of other conservatives, like me. For a time in the 1980s and 1990s, Newt did great service for the conservative movement and the Republican Party. He also did considerable damage, and was gone from Congress less than four years after he became Speaker of the House. I’m going from memory here, but I believe his approval rating at that time was around 14%.

Jennifer Rubin is another conservative who backs Mitt Romney [UPDATE: My mistake, Jennifer is not backing Romney.] and has criticized Gingrich, for which she has been viciously attacked by others on the right. She notes Romney’s new ad, which recalls how Gingrich sold out Paul Ryan, whom he accused of “right wing social engineering.”

Mitt Romney is taking off the gloves with a new ad pummeling Newt Gingrich over his attack on Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare bill. The ad doesn’t show Gingrich later denying that he savaged Ryan. Even now he won’t recognize his own destructive behavior. …

Gingrich’s ability to deceive, to twist and to rearrange facts to fit his own grandiose vision of himself is, to be frank, scary.

This has been Gingrich’s great failing throughout his career.

Here is the Romney ad:

It strikes me that those who prefer Gingrich to Romney must either be very young, or suffer from selective memory. We have barely begun to recall the embarrassing moments that will be used against Newt should he be the nominee. A common theme of these missteps is that Newt’s ego sometimes runs away with him. The air of assurance that impresses so many debate viewers is usually justified, but too often it conceals the fact that Newt has little idea what he is talking about.

For a case in point, check out his spirited but deeply misguided defense of Government Sponsored Enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. If social issues are your thing, there is also his ever-shifting position on stem cell research.

Although it may not seem like it at the moment, I personally am fond of Gingrich and grateful for his contributions over the years. But the Republican Party would be crazy to nominate him for president.

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