Yes, me-too Republicans, there is a GOP “establishment”
And not only is there an establishment, but they don’t much like you conservatives or classical liberals, either. Jeffrey Lord, American Spectator:
Sarah Palin is dead-on right.
If Newt Gingrich disappeared from the planet today and in his place stood only Rick Santorum — or Sarah Palin herself or some other conservative — you can be certain the Establishment GOP would have their sights trained on that conservative, running some version of precisely the same multi-gazillion dollar campaign they are running against Newt Gingrich right now. As a matter of fact, they did exactly this to Governor Palin from the very moment she stepped on the national stage in 2008. If by chance Rick Santorum emerges as the sole conservative left in this race — look out Rick.
Why is this?
The hard fact of the political matter, to give the short version, is that with the advent of the American progressive movement at the beginning of the 20th century, there were many in the Republican Party who in their own fashion went over the side, abandoning the good ship of conservative principles. It’s not that they necessarily left the GOP — although some, most prominently Theodore Roosevelt — did so. No, what happened is that they simply folded like a cheap suit, caving to what they were certain would be the eternal popularity of the progressive movement. Becoming what was eventually known as the “me-too” Republican. Or, in the tart summation of Barry Goldwater, supporters of “the dime store New Deal.” Today, the name is RINO — Republican in Name Only.
The real problem on display with the Romney-Gingrich duel is that since the advent of the GOP moderate, moderation has become the default position of the Republican Establishment. In the day, to decry the New Deal or the Great Society or, today, abortion or gay marriage or any number of other liberal favorites, is to open oneself up to social approbation from this or that set of self-anointed elites. Elites who put a premium on being seen as “moderate,” “nice,” and “smart” as opposed to “extreme,” “mean,” or — God forbid — “not very bright.” Sniff, sniff and all of that.
As someone who grew up for all but two years in the Northeastern United States (Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania, with considerable professional time afterwards in Washington) this is something one learns quickly. In truth, for some, to be perceived as somehow challenging these so-called values is so much of a psychological freak-out (invitations to the right parties dwindle, the right friends shy away, business possibilities — income — can be negatively affected) that it is simply easier to just shut up and join the herd.
Politically speaking, for many in the GOP Establishment this is a terrifying set of thoughts. In an electoral sense, to not be suitably “moderate” equates to losing elections. After all, if voters (read: “Independents”) don’t want to have you at their parties or even be friends with you or do business –much less if they think you’re not very smart — why would they ever vote for you or your candidates?
You might call this an electoral learning disability. Ronald Reagan carried 44 states in his 1980 landslide over Jimmy Carter, the man who had defeated Gerald Ford in 1976. In 1984, Reagan was re-elected, carrying 49 states and coming within a few thousand votes of carrying the 50th — opponent Walter Mondale’s home state of Minnesota.
Years later, after both Reagan and Ford had died, Ford biographer and Newsweek’s White House correspondent during the Ford era, Thomas DeFrank, wrote a book based on his long off-the-record conversations with his friend Jerry Ford. The book, Write It When I’m Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conservations with Gerald R. Ford, sums up the moderate Ford’s thoughts on the conservative Reagan in March of 1980 in a more potent, decidedly then-unprintable fashion.
Writes DeFrank of what Ford really thought:
Translation: The thought of Ronald Reagan becoming my party's nominee makes me want to puke.
THIS, OF COURSE, IS PRECISELY the kind of stuff now being said of Newt Gingrich by Mitt Romney’s Establishment supporters right this minute. It is exactly the kind of sentiment Governor Palin was addressing when she said that this argument was really about the GOP Establishment versus the Tea Party. To wit: “cannibalism.”
Palin has also put her finger on the problem when she said that the Establishment GOP had “adopted the tactics of the left in using the media and the politics of personal destruction to attack an opponent.”
This is correct. And there is a reason for it. The very “moderation” sought by the Establishment is designed to nudge America’s conservative party ever so appropriately and socially acceptably — left. Thus there is no mystery why the leftist tactics Palin cites surface inside the GOP Establishment.
— and, I would add, are then projected onto the TEA Party, or its representatives, or any challenger to the ruling elite, as we saw recently with Gabriel Malor’s remarkably strained suggestion that, if anyone is really guilty of adopting the tactics of the left (which is no big deal anyway; what one man calls “tactics,” another calls “tools”), it is movement conservatives, those who’ve been consistently characterized as Hobbits, racists, unsophisticated rubes, extremists, populists, ideological purists, party saboteurs, Obama Republicans, and so on by the very Party whose base these hideous embarrassments to the GOP make up. And besides, who, having now learned how to use, say, a hammer, wouldn’t then take it and, having finished building a bird house, then use it to beat their family into pulp as they lay sleeping?
Attack the moderates’ core belief that they are somehow electable — in spite of their long record as political losers — and they come at you, as Buckley also noted with amusement, with lances cocked. And that’s before you challenge them on the perpetual squishiness of their views on issues of the day. This, in short form, is precisely how an alarmed Romney campaign and GOP Establishment is responding to Newt — and would respond to Santorum if need be.
Recently, there was a bit of a fuss over my revelation that National Review had published a piece from ex-Reagan State Department aide Elliott Abrams cherry-picking a Newt Gingrich speech on American-Soviet relations back in 1986. What’s interesting are two remarks made in response by Romney supporters.
In his still-further cherry picking response to me, NR’s editor Rich Lowry had this to say of the Gingrich speech:
I suspect Newt's fans will find it unerringly brilliant, while others will roll their eyes.
Meanwhile, in her Washington Post blog on Sunday, Establishment Romneyite Jennifer Rubin, by way of reprimanding me, displayed her elitism by unleashing her inner Tina Fey, recycling Fey’s bit about Sarah Palin. Said Rubin:
From her house she might see Russia, but her understanding of Stalin is nonexistent….
When one adds the Lowry eye-rolling comment about Gingrich to Rubin’s snarky from-her-house comment on Palin — not to mention Romney’s “You’re fired” comment about space exploration — one gets the pluperfect illustration of the Establishment mindset that launched Dewey and Ford and all manner of moderate-inspired political disasters.
Newt Gingrich’s old friend Jack Kemp — loyal Reagan lieutenants both — would breezily call this kind of thinking “elitist and patronizing.” Buckley, the founder of Lowry’s magazine, called this kind of attitude an example of “consistent intemperance, insularity and irascibility.” Add the absence of Romney’s conservative ideology to his thus far disturbing pride in his utter lack of vision and imagination and the same old dreary picture painted by Thomas E. Dewey and Gerald Ford comes clear yet again.
To wit: yet another losing presidential campaign or a disastrously weak “mortgage presidency”– filled with intellectual and programmatic mush staffed by wimps afraid of their political shadow.
AS NIGHT FOLLOWS DAY, if Romney is nominated the hard-edged bashing of Gingrich will vanish when the opponent becomes President Obama. Why? Because, Romney and the Establishment GOP will run the updated version of the Dewey-Ford mortgage driven campaign. After all. A presidential campaign, to quote Romney, isn’t talk radio. One can’t attack Barack Obama in this fashion. One can’t say the reason this presidency is an utter failure is because of an Alinsky-ite, far left philosophy. Nooooooooo. One must say simply and politely that Obama is, to quote Romney directly, just “over his head.” And at Romney’s side (aside from all those Washington lobbyists there now) will be mortgaged aides like ex-GOP Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman. In the finest tradition of Establishment wimpiness assuring that Romney really doesn’t mean it when he talks about undoing Obamacare. Oh no. After all, in Coleman’s words:
“We’re not going to do repeal. You’re not going to repeal Obamacare… It’s not a total repeal… You will not repeal the act in its entirety, but you will see major changes, particularly if there is a Republican president.… You can’t whole-cloth throw it out. But you can substantially change what’s been done.”
The attacks on Newt Gingrich by the Establishment Romneyites are not about Newt Gingrich at all. They are attacks on conservatives. By the Republican Party Establishment.
Or, as the saying might go after all these years: still more mush from the wimps.
But then, all very unhelpful.
After all, don’t you stupid hicktard conservative state schoolers want to regain the Presidency and the Senate so that Mitt and John Boehner and Mitch McConnell can more efficiently manage the federal Leviathan?
That is, don’t you want all that beautiful government revenue — and all those delicious potential new regulations — to be presided over by our side?
Of course you do. No get your asses in line and make it happen. We need to get back to those efficient, collegial, pre-TEA Party days in Congress when, as Nancy Pelosi reminded us, party affiliation didn’t make much difference. And to do that we need a President Romney.
Oh. And a failure to relent on your part? Means you’ll be responsible for re-electing Obama.
So, like, way to go, “True Conservative” “purists”.