The last few days have erupted in controversy as former Reagan-era politicians and bureaucrats have come forth to
question hack with a meat axe at Newt Gingrich’s claims to have been a leading figure in the “Reagan Revolution” of the 1980s. Among the most hard-hitting was former Assistant Secretary of State Elliot Abrams’ broadside. (Rebutted by Jeffrey Lord, also a former Reaganite.)
To say the rhetoric has become angry and bitter would be like characterizing the Civil War as a “family argument.”
Enter Sarah Palin, who knows a thing or two about being the victim of a coordinated hatchet-job. Flawed as Newt is, Momma Grizzly is mad and breaks out her nightstick.
I am sadly too familiar with these tactics because they were used against the GOP ticket in 2008. The left seeks to single someone out and destroy his or her record and reputation and family using the media as a channel to dump handpicked and half-baked campaign opposition research on the public. The difference in 2008 was that I was largely unknown to the American public, so they had no way of differentiating between the lies and the truth. All of it came at them at once as “facts” about me. But Newt Gingrich is known to us – both the good and the bad.
We know that Newt fought in the trenches during the Reagan Revolution. As Rush Limbaugh pointed out, Newt was among a handful of Republican Congressman who would regularly take to the House floor to defend Reagan at a time when conservatives didn’t have Fox News or talk radio or conservative blogs to give any balance to the liberal mainstream media. Newt actually came at Reagan’s administration “from the right” to remind Americans that freer markets and tougher national defense would win our future. But this week a few handpicked and selectively edited comments which Newt made during his 40-year career were used to claim that Newt was somehow anti-Reagan and isn’t conservative enough to go against the accepted moderate in the primary race. (I know, it makes no sense, and the GOP establishment hopes you won’t stop and think about this nonsense. Mark Levin and others have shown the ridiculousness of this.) To add insult to injury, this “anti-Reagan” claim was made by a candidate who admitted to not even supporting or voting for Reagan. He actually was against the Reagan movement, donated to liberal candidates, and said he didn’t want to go back to the Reagan days. You can’t change history. We know that Newt Gingrich brought the Reagan Revolution into the 1990s. We know it because none other than Nancy Reagan herself announced this when she presented Newt with an award, telling us, “The dramatic movement of 1995 is an outgrowth of a much earlier crusade that goes back half a century. Barry Goldwater handed the torch to Ronnie, and in turn Ronnie turned that torch over to Newt and the Republican members of Congress to keep that dream alive.” As Rush and others pointed out, if Nancy Reagan had ever thought that Newt was in any way an opponent of her beloved husband, she would never have even appeared on a stage with him, let alone presented him with an award and said such kind things about him. Nor would Reagan’s son, Michael Reagan, have chosen to endorse Newt in this primary race. There are no two greater keepers of the Reagan legacy than Nancy and Michael Reagan. What we saw with this ridiculous opposition dump on Newt was nothing short of Stalin-esque rewriting of history. It was Alinsky tactics at their worst.
But this whole thing isn’t really about Newt Gingrich vs. Mitt Romney. It is about the GOP establishment vs. the Tea Party grassroots and independent Americans who are sick of the politics of personal destruction used now by both parties’ operatives with a complicit media egging it on. In fact, the establishment has been just as dismissive of Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. Newt is an imperfect vessel for Tea Party support, but in South Carolina the Tea Party chose to get behind him instead of the old guard’s choice. In response, the GOP establishment voices denounced South Carolinian voters with the same vitriol we usually see from the left when they spew hatred at everyday Americans “bitterly clinging” to their faith and their Second Amendment rights. The Tea Party was once again told to sit down and shut up and listen to the “wisdom” of their betters. We were reminded of the litany of Tea Party endorsed candidates in 2010 who didn’t win. Well, here’s a little newsflash to the establishment: without the Tea Party there would have been no historic 2010 victory at all.
Emphasis added. Read it all.
If there’s one person outside the candidates themselves who has sufficient respect and influence among the base to significantly influence the primary race, it’s Sarah Palin.
And she just shot a bullet at the feet of the GOP establishment.
RELATED: My blog-buddy ST has a long piece about this controversy, the dread charge of “RINO-ism,” and pols who try to manipulate voters. Legal Insurrection calls it a “thousand points of fright” for the GOP establishment.