In Part 1 of this series advocating Newt Gingrich for the Republican nomination for President, I documented his strength both as a Reaganite economic conservative and a brilliant debater and explainer of conservative ideas.  Part 2 covered his record as a pro-life advocate and gun rights supporter, as well as his support for school choice and a strong national defense.  Here, in the wake of a Florida primary defeat largely due to aggressive attacks, I will address those.

Negative campaigning

Now I am not a wimp about “negative” campaigning.  While some have decried the “increasing incivility”, this has long been part and parcel in American politics, right back to Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.  Sometimes negative campaigning is more honest than “positive” campaigning that lies about the merits of a candidate.

I would go even further: we now have a race-polarizing, anti-Christian, Marxist demagogue in the White House precisely because of a sad lack of negative campaigning.  Thomas Sowell agrees, and pointed out in the month before Obama’s election:

“In words, Obama is a uniter instead of a divider. In deeds, he has spent years promoting polarization. That is what a ‘community organizer’ does, creating a sense of grievance, envy and resentment, in order to mobilize political action to get more of the taxpayers’ money or to force banks to lend to people they don’t consider good risks, as the community organizing group ACORN did. …

“When Barack Obama donated $20,000 to Jeremiah Wright, does anyone imagine that he was unaware that Wright was the epitome of grievance, envy and resentment hype? Or were Wright’s sermons too subtle for Obama to pick up that message?

“How subtle is ‘Goddamn America!’?

“Yet those in the media who deplore ‘negative advertising’ regard it as unseemly to dig up ugly facts instead of sticking to the beautiful rhetoric of an election year.”

But as we know, the McCain campaign fell for the rhetoric of Obama’s media allies, and barely attacked his record.  Similarly, many Catholics ignored Obama’s deeds as an abortion extremist and infanticide defender, and 54 percent of the Catholic vote went to Obama.   But now these “useful idiots” are shocked when the Obama administration gives them a year to violate their consciences—the beginning of official persecution of the Church in America.

But there is truthful negative campaigning, and untruthful.  A lot of the latest round is the latter.  Unfortunately it has worked to undermine Speaker Gingrich in both Iowa and Florida.  But in the end, it is damaging the Republican Party.  For now, Romney can outspend Gingrich 5–1, so Florida’s result was “the best money can buy”, and he has the Leftmedia helping.  But if Romney wins the nomination, it could well be a Pyrrhic victory, as he will be overwhelmingly outspent by the Obama/Chicago machine, and the media will turn on him just as they did with McCain.   Conversely, Gingrich’s strengths on his policies and debating skills are just what we need to defeat Obama.

So let’s deal with some specific charges.

Newt Gingrich “resigned in disgrace” as Speaker, and was heavily “fined”?

In 1996, 84 ethics charges were filed against Gingrich.  They were clearly motivated by partisan politics, first by Ben Jones, a Democrat Gingrich had just defeated in an election, and Democrat whip David Bonior (MI).  In the latter case, there was payback for the genuine ethics charges Gingrich had filed against the previous Democrat speaker, Jim Wright.  Wright was cited for 69 violations of house rules, and later resigned as speaker.

But 83 of those charges were dropped because of complete lack of merit.  Gingrich agreed to pay $300,000 towards the costs of the investigation—not a “fine”.  The remaining charge concerned a college course he taught, of all things.  After a 3.5-year investigation, even Clinton’s partisan IRS officially stated that there was no violation of tax laws.

And his reason for resigning as Speaker was to take responsibility for the Republicans losing five seats from the House in the 1998 congressional elections.  In his final speech as Speaker, he received a standing ovation.

Thomas Sowell asks very reasonably:

“Do the Romney camp and the Republican establishment not know this, a dozen years later? Or are they far less concerned with whether the charges will stand up than they are about smearing Gingrich on the eve of the Florida primaries?”

Global warming?

Yes, it is true that Gingrich made a commercial with his nemesis Nancy Pelosi, and I have criticised him for this.  However, this was when many people thought that global warming was a threat, before the scam became widely known.  Newt has since admitted his mistake, and gone even further: he has been a leader against any carbon taxes and “cap-and-trade”.  And in 2009, he totally demolished Al Gore’s “facts” before Congress:

Unfortunately, Newt still thinks that ethanol is a good idea, but here’s hoping that he will see this as part of the same scam.

Attacking Reagan?

A number of so-called conservative publications have accused Newt of attacking Reagan.  But they used an edited video, conveniently omitting Newt’s praise of Reagan and his policies.  Here is what he actually said:

“The fact is that George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Irving Kristol, and Jeane Kirkpatrick are right in pointing out the enormous gap between President Reagan’s strong rhetoric, which is adequate, and his administration’s weak policies, which are inadequate and will ultimately fail.”

Sowell further explains:

“Gingrich praised Reagan’s grasp of the foreign policy issues of the day but later questioned whether the way the actual policies of the Reagan administration were being carried out was likely to succeed. Gingrich was not alone in making this point which such conservative stalwarts as George Will, Charles Krauthammer and others made at the time.

“Since a column of my own back in the 1980s suggested that the administration’s policies seemed to be to ‘speak loudly and carry a little stick,’ I can well understand the misgivings of others. But that is wholly different from saying that all who expressed misgivings were enemies of Ronald Reagan.”

Dr Gary DeMar likewise explains in The Truth Behind the Attack on Newt:

“Newt was attacking the people in Reagan’s administration who wanted Reagan to tone down the anti-Soviet rhetoric. These are the same people who wanted Reagan to remove the line ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!’ from his speech at the Brandenburg Gate near the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987.

“Here’s the important part of the story. Reagan administration officials wanted him to cut the line from his speech because they believed them to be an ‘outright affront to the Soviet leadership.’ … This was what Newt was railing against, not Reagan, but the softies in his Administration.”

Furthermore, Reagan’s son Michael has endorsed Newt and defended him as a supporter of his father.  In fact, Michael Reagan thinks that, Newt should go beyond his father: “Ronald Reagan told us what the city on the hill looked like to him.   I think Newt Gingrich needs to tell the country what that city on the hill looks like to him.”

Conclusion

In the next column, I will cover charges about his alleged lobbying for Freddie Mac, admiration for FDR, and marital failings, and why this election is so crucial.  But for now, it’s hard to improve on DeMar’s summary of good debating:

“Tell the truth about your opponent. As much as you might believe your opponent’s position is wacko, don’t lie about it or misrepresent it. It’s not ethical, and it will come back to bite you in the end.”

While neither side is totally blameless, the untruths coming from the Romney camp are not only wrong in themselves, they can do only harm to the conservative cause in general.