Widespread Reagan Discontent: Newt Not Alone – Putting it in Context: Remember Democrat Pro-Sandinistas?

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.

  • I just wish that Gingrich would admit that he was extremely critical of Reagan at times. He may be pro-Reagan now but he needs to own up to the fact he wasn’t pro-Reagan during the 80’s.

    • Teresa, the record is coming to light. He wasn’t the only one, but in the end he voted with and supported Ronald Reagan. As I said to RR, 8 years is a long time to love a president and his entire agenda. Only Democrats do that. Perhaps Newt was wrong at time. Reagan has said he was wrong at times – example, tax cuts to achieve spending cuts that never happened. It was a big deal.

      • I shouldn’t have classified Newt as “not being pro-Reagan”. What I really meant was that Newt needs to own up to the fact that he had disagreed with some of Reagan’s policies. It just seems to me that now he presents himself as being 100% pro-Reagan during the Reagan years. That is what I meant when I said that he needs to come clean and admit he wasn’t necessarily as pro-Reagan back then as he perceives himself to have been. I have no problem with him having some disagreements with Reagan all I ask is for him to be honest about those disagreements.

        • Teresa, maybe he needs to talk about what the disagreements were, and then how it was resolved between he and Reagan. He can’t do that in a debate setting, but he can do it on his website and in interviews.

          Today’s he’s shooting himself in second thumb. He’s finished off two feet and one thumb already. Talking about the debate audience being too loud (cheering for him) to debate an issue with Romney. Incredible. Between this and the moon colonies, he has brought a lot of skeptcism on his candidacy. He is right about Space, but moon colonies should have been held in abeyance.

          Having said all that, I am clearly opposed to a Romney candidacy. I am praying for Santorum and Newt.

          • If you know anything about Nancy Reagan, you would know there is no way she would ever share a stage with Newt or anyone who didn’t support her husband. No First Lady ever defended her husband like Nancy did. If Newt had done anything against Ronnie she felt was wrong, she wouldn’t give him the time of day, much less say that Ronnie passed the torch of Conservatism to him.

  • He wasn’t critical of Reagan in this example, he was critical of Reagan’s STAFF

    These stories attacking Newt also seem to assume Reagan owned the Contras, and anything said against the way the effort was managed is a direct attack upon him… or they’d like you to believe that.

    Yet in fact, Carter had already spend $1M funded the Nicaraguan opposition by the time Reagan came to office. So Gingrich asked for a strategy and end-game apparently… isn’t he supposed to ask questions before voting for spending?

    But Newt ONLY said the White House staff was screwing it up- well, the Sandinistas were NOT toppled… Iran-Contra caused the administration (particularly Meese and North) a LOT of grief… and many of the weapons were sold by Contras to COMMUNIST rebels in nearby El Salvador.

    All Gingrich was saying was he agreed with RR’s goals and vision, but his staff was unlikely to delivery victory for us from what he’d seen so far.

    Seems he was right, or at least right to ask… no?

    • RR, I was coming at this from the standpoint that it would be very odd in an eight year term to not disagree with a President at times – some at important times, AND that Newt was far from the only one standing on the floor of the House protecting principles he thought important. In the end, he always supported Reagan.