Steven Hayward writing at Powerline today explains that while Newt Gingrich expressed dissatisfaction with Reagan at times, he was in good company. Before going on to those examples, while Romney claims that Gingrich was disgraced and lost his leadership, Hayward reminds of some of those details, and of communism and Newt and a “pro-Sandinista Democrat Congress. I ask you, haven’t you had enough of Reid and Pelosi licking the left palm and heel of Barack Obama? God help us if our Party expects the same. Read on.
Hayward quotes the following from his book, The Age of Reagan, parts of which (not in context) have been used in criticism of Gingrich as a Reagan defector at times. This is a small snippet. Read it all here.
What was different as 1987 drew toward a close is that so many conservatives now joined the chorus of dismay and disillusionment. Fred Barnes wrote in August that Reagan “is weakened, aged, and sometimes disconsolate.” National Review’s pseudonymous Washington correspondent “Cato” reported in early September that “Many big-name conservatives here think Ronald Reagan has lost his soul.” A Human Events front-page headline blared, “Conservatives Depressed by Rudderless Administration.” The lead of the story read: “The Reagan Administration appears to have lost its will to survive.” Sir James Goldsmith, a prominent British conservative with close ties to America, wrote a widely noted article for the Wall Street Journal entitled “America, You Falter.”
These doubts about Reagan were not limited to the know-nothing ranks of right-wingers. George Will charged that Reagan was engaging in “the moral disarmament of the West by elevating wishful thinking to the status of political philosophy.” Patrick Glynn, recently departed from the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, wrote in Commentary: “This avowedly most conservative of recent American Presidents has emerged as a champion of nuclear disarmament measures far more radical and sweeping than even many arms-control proponents deem advisable.” National Review went into full opposition: “The impending INF deal requires observers to come to an unfortunate conclusion: that Ronald Reagan is no longer predictable on matters of nuclear strategy. . . It is simply impossible any longer to count on the Reagan Administration one way or another.” Before long National Review came to call the INF Treaty “a suicide pact.” William Safire took dead aim in the New York Times: “His overnight abandonment of realism—his notion that a change of line and style marks a basic change of purpose—suggests that Mr. Reagan has slipped his strategic moorings.”
From Hayward today:
Second, recalling this dimension of the Reagan years is an antidote to simple-minded and un-modulated nostalgia that forgets these frustrations, and especially their source—the inherent limitations of politics, a constitutional system that make change difficult, and the supreme requirement of prudence in political leadership–the single most difficult thing to make out in presidents and prospective presidents. (More on this in a moment.) I tire of hearing callers to talk radio say, as I heard one do on Mark Levin last night, that “we need to get someone in the White House who will repeal Obamacare.” No, we need a Congress that will repeal Obamacare; the President cannot do so all by himself…[Exactly what Newt said]
Anyone remember the “Dear Commandante” letter from the Democrats’ pro-Sandinista caucus of the House (that included their majority leader, Jim Wright)? And just who led the attack on that deep irresponsibility? Yep: our Newt. Here’s the relevant passage from the ur-text my book (read it here).
Republicans have always criticized Republicans when principle was believed to be at stake. It’s a good thing. Even if that criticism turnouts to be wrong.