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Monday, December 19, 2011

Conservatives should think twice about Newt - Part II | Washington Examiner

Conservatives should think twice about Newt - Part II | Washington Examiner

Conservatives should think twice about Newt - Part II
By: Examiner Editorial | 12/18/11 8:05 PM
Three weeks ago, when we warned in this space that conservatives should think twice before succumbing to the sudden appeal of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, we were, quite frankly, out on a limb. For all his faults, Gingrich occupies a special place in the Republican pantheon, thanks to the electoral success made possible by the Contract with America in 1994. But with his surge in popularity as an alternative to Mitt Romney, we believed it important to speak up. Essentially, our warning was that his flaws "make it difficult not to view Gingrich as an exemplar of Washington's professional Republican politicians who talk the talk to get elected, but often don't walk it once in office."

A lot has happened since that Nov. 29 editorial appeared. As Gingrich built a double-digit lead over Romney, it appeared that perhaps our warning came too late. But last week it became evident that a lot of people -- including many of our media colleagues on the Right and, more importantly, conservative Republican primary voters in Iowa and across the nation -- were indeed thinking twice about the former speaker.

Toward the end of last week, poll data came out suggesting the Gingrich surge was at least leveling out, if not receding. Then on December 14, National Review published an editorial - "Winnowing the field" - that effectively echoed our case for thinking twice before committing to Gingrich. An especially important passage in that editorial said this: "If he is the nominee, a campaign that should be about whether the country will continue on the path to social democracy would inevitably become to a large extent a referendum on Gingrich instead. And there is reason to doubt that he has changed."

Then yesterday our friends on the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal stepped up to put the case against Gingrich as only that august publication can. Like The Washington Examiner and NR, the Journal's editors acknowledged Gingrich's genuine accomplishments but warned: "The real history lesson here may be what the Freddie episode reveals about Mr. Gingrich's political philosophy. To wit, he has a soft spot for big government when he can use it for his own political ends. He also supported the individual mandate in health care in the 1990s, and we recall when he lobbied us to endorse the prescription drug benefit with only token Medicare reform in 2003."

In between those editorials, of course, came The Examiner's endorsement of Romney, a conclusion we reached because we think nothing is more important in 2012 than denying President Obama a second term and then fixing America's broken economy in 2013. In our judgment, the former Massachusetts governor is most likely to accomplish both tasks, especially if he has a genuinely conservative Republican Congress to keep him properly focused. It's been a good three weeks, we would humbly suggest, because the conservative media has done its most important job in this primary season -- insuring that all the facts are placed, without fear or favor, before the people who will decide America's future.

MORE ON THESE TOPICS: 2012 Election 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination mitt romney National Review National Review Online Newt Gingrich Politics The Wall Street Journal

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