The Primary and Intellectual Honesty: My problem with Newt and SOME of his supporters
I have said for awhile now that I don’t know who I am voting for and refuse to pick publicly. Instead, I decided I would focus on criticizing each candidate when I felt they were engaging in unfair attacks, and likewise defending each potential nominee when I felt they were being attacked unfairly. It was for that reason that I criticized Mitt Romney for his critique of Social Security reform/Taxes, Herman Cain for his lack of preparation, Santorum for his pandering on manufacturing, and Rick Perry for his “heartless” comments. I have legitimately criticized every single candidate at one time or another. There are some however that may be surprised to hear that I have still not chosen a candidate based on my recent criticism of Newt Gingrich’s attacks on Mitt Romney. What those people are missing is that I felt I was compelled to engage in that defense in order to remain consistent with the standards I had previously applied. The actions I have seen from Newt Gingrich and SOME of his supporters over the last few weeks have been wrong and intellectually dishonest. The reality is that neither Newt Gingrich nor Mitt Romney are very conservative. Romney’s record leaves voters with many questions as to his conservative nature and several of Newt’s statements raise the same concerns. With that in mind, there are also very valid reasons to support each (Sorry to leave of Santorum, but my focus here is on the front runners). Let me start by making the concession that some Romney supporters have gone over the line and essentially questioned the intelligence of anyone who supports Newt. That is clearly wrong and should be denounced by people on our side. With that in mind, I have been far more disturbed by the behavior of Newt and SOME of his supporters. The main reason that I believe Newt is now struggling is his choice to go away from a campaign mostly aimed at Obama and the media and instead engage in clearly leftist attacks against other Republicans. Newt has attacked Romney on the basis of wealth, venture capitalism and opposition to illegal immigration. Many of these attacks are directly parroting Think Progress and other leftist outfits, and seriously pushing away informed conservative voters. Most recently, Newt essentially labeled anyone who opposes some form of amnesty as “uncaring” and “anti-immigrant”. It is worth reminding readers that Rick Perry’s campaign was severely hurt and he was universally castigated by conservatives for similar remarks. Yet somehow Newt gets a complete pass for these tactics from SOME supporters. I was not willing to give him a similar pass, which resulted in accusations from Gingrich supporters that I was not really conservative, I was in the tank for Romney and I was not informed about the issues. These accusations were ridiculous and offensive, but the cult of personality seems to have surpassed intellectual honesty for some. If I, Marco Rubio, Phillip Klein and many others are no longer conservatives because we choose to denounce what we see as intellectually dishonest attacks, then the conservative movement has taken a very wrong turn.
A further ridiculous item arising from the Gingrich side is the constant whining about personal and political attacks from Romney, ignoring the fact that Newt is engaging in the same thing. Gingrich is complaining about PAC’s running dishonest ads, while his PAC is receiving 5 million dollar lump donations to do just that. It is one thing to make the perfectly legitimate choice to go negative, it is quite another to do that and also complain about your opponent doing the same. As for the claim that the “establishment” is out to destroy Newt Gingrich, it is a conspiracy theory that is not based in reality. Gingrich has spent most of his life in Washington and has plenty of “Establishment” individuals behind him. If Newt Gingrich is not part of the establishment, then that word has seemingly lost all meaning. Finally, the biggest problem I have had with SOME Newt supporters is the constant threats to not vote for Romney if he is the nominee. I have not seen that from Romney supporters. Most reasonable conservatives understand the threat that another term for Obama poses and that is enough motivation to vote for a Republican. Four more years of Obama would mean giving up the Supreme Court, allowing implantation of Obamacare, more trillion dollar deficits and god knows what else from a president that has shown no respect for the separation of powers. Obama would clearly be a disaster, even if he was somewhat gridlocked by a Republican congress. If that doesn’t motivate you to get out and vote for any Republican nominee this election, then I would seriously question your priorities.
There are plenty of legitimate criticisms of Romney that conservatives can make in this primary (liberal record in MA, Romneycare etc.). These critiques from the right are perfectly fair and can be a good reason to support another candidate in the primary. However, engaging in leftist attacks, copying liberal media criticism, and insulting people who disagree with you is not legitimate. These things hurt the conservative brand and are not worth getting any individual elected. I expect this stuff from the left, but not from our side. I would suggest both Newt and his supporters consider that in their future discourse. Obviously, the same disclaimer exists for Romney and his supporters that choose to do the same.
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