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On Newt and Gnomes


Yesterday I posted a brief piece on the first wave of oppo dumps on Newt Gingrich to appear at NRO. No suprise that. NRO has been oppo central for all of the “anti-Mitt” candidates this cycle.

Jim Geraghty thinks he was maltreated by me in the story. I think Jim protests too much.

From Geraghty’s daily newsletter, “Morning Jolt”, which excerpts this story at Campaign Spot:

Unsurprisingly, those who preferred somebody besides Newt loved it; Newt fans insisted that it was A) evidence that NR will endorse Romney B) evidence that I’ve been bought off by Mitt Romney C) a tirade (somehow quoting Newt constitutes a tirade) D) RINO!

It’s just so farshtunken tiresome.

Streiff at RedState suggests I’m a “gnome,” scoffing, “I’m sure there is an army of gnomes out there, this very instant, researching every exotic statement Gingrich has uttered in his career. This will be a full employment plan not only for those gnomes but their children because every time Gingrich has had a thought he has told a newspaper somewhere about it.”

Of course. I suppose all true conservatives shrug nonchalantly at the thought of a candidate and potential president who feels the need to publicly proclaim every thought that comes into his head.

First and foremost, thanks for the link and the traffic. It is always appreciated and hopefully those stats will push me into the five-figure bonus range this year.

There are two other points that need to be addressed.

The term “gnome” wasn’t directed at Jim, no matter how short he may be, it was referring to the people who slave away in the oppo research operations of campaigns. Jim says he personally found the quotes he used in his story yesterday and was not the beneficiary of an oppo dump.

The second point to be made is more important. Apparently pointing out the obvious, that since he left the Speakership, Newt has been paid good money to say edgy and outrageous things makes one a Gingrich supporter… which at this stage I am not. If we take Geraghty’s argument to its logical conclusion then any lawyer who has worked both sides of an issue is a flip-flopper. The point is that Gingrich’s livelihood since leaving Congress has depended on being a lecturer or pundit that could be guaranteed to say thought provoking things. Some of those things sounded stupid even at the time.

Does the fact that some of these statement, and by some I mean a lot, conflict with his current positions make him a Romneyesque flip-flopper. I don’t think so. Gingrich differs from Romney as a flip-flopper in an important way. The multitude of positions Romney has taken have all — 100% of them — occurred in the context of Romney either promising to do them if elected or doing them the one time he managed to get elected. This is the pattern of a man with the impeccable sense of direction of a weather vane. Gingrich, and I say this from having spent several hours is a small group setting with him, likes to toss out ideas as “what ifs” and play with them. They are different behaviors in the way that the discussion you have with a used car salesman or telecom telemarketer is different from the discussion you have with a bunch of friends over a few beers. It is a different context.

Geraghty is apparently unable to fathom what I believe should be obvious to anyone and pulls the victim card by acting as though he has been read out of the conservative movement (“I suppose all true conservatives shrug nonchalantly”, oh, puuhh-leeze). No one who has read RedState more than once believes that I have 1) either called myself a “true conservative” or, more importantly, 2) been called a “true conservative” by anyone.

He goes on to max out his victim card by using the ever popular appeal to authority, he points to Mark Steyn’s opinion.

While I enjoy Steyn and Limbaugh I don’t necessarily think either has a pipeline to the truth. In some cases they are simply wrong, such as Rush’s recent full-throated defense of an indefensible Herman Cain. In this case Steyn gloms onto some obscure reference from another oppo drop (also in NRO) based on a 1997 essay in The Weekly Standard. He fails to mention that Gingrich wrote the foreword to Rick Perry’s Fed Up. How are we to reconcile a statement that seminar notes written by Gingrich in 1997 are more important to determining his views of government than a 2010 book foreword? You can’t and be credible.

There is plenty of fertile ground out there to criticize Gingrich. Whether any of it rises to the level of a deal breaker with GOP primary voters remains to be seen. His personal travails and ethics problems in Congress are baked into Gingrich’s public persona. We already know this. This eleventh hour effort by the Paul and Romney campaigns to paint Gingrich as a flip-flopper is simply a self-beclowning at which both those campaigns are deadly efficient.

The truth of the matter is that absent some catastrophic foot shot or, more likely, spectacular organizational equivalent of the China Syndrome that brings the campaign to its knees it is increasingly easy to see Gingrich running away with the nomination.

Personally, I don’t consider Gingrich to be a movement conservative by any stretch of the imagination but we are coming down to a point where a candidate must be chosen. If it comes down to Romney or Gingrich there is no doubt in my mind that Gingrich is a stronger candidate and will do less damage to our cause if he wins than will Romney.

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