Newt Gingrich, unfit to be president. So wrote National Review editors last Wednesday. Gingrich may not be the editors' beau ideal for president, but unfit? C'mon. That stinks of inside-the-Beltway hatchet jobbing.
Blowback from grassroots conservatives has been considerable (including criticism from Rush Limbaugh), as well it should be. One imagines that that's why NR editors permitted Andrew McCarthy to counter their editorial in Saturday's online edition.
NR contributor Andrew McCarthy is a tough conservative with a strongly incisive mind. His lengthy rebuttal of the editors' bleating is very much worth the read.
Of the editors' treatment of Gingrich, McCarthy writes:
Regarding former Speaker Gingrich, I have no objection to the cataloguing of any candidate's failings, and Newt has certainly made his share of mistakes. But there ought to be balance -- balance between a candidate's failings and his strengths, balance between the treatment of that candidate and of his rivals. The editorial fails on both scores.
Gingrich's virtues are shortchanged -- his great accomplishment in balancing the federal budget is not even mentioned, an odd omission in an election that is primarily about astronomical spending. His downsides are exaggerated in two unbecoming ways.
Let me preface the first by conceding that I am as concerned as anyone by the former Speaker's walks on the wild side -- though I think they are outweighed by his unique gifts.
But NR editors didn't stop at dusting up the former U.S. House speaker; they inexplicably promoted former Obama ambassador and Utah Governor John Huntsman as the candidate Republicans should look at seriously for the GOP presidential nod. Huntsman makes Mitt Romney look like Barry Goldwater.
Here's what McCarthy had to say about the editors' Huntsman for President boost:
Seriously? When you ask conservatives and Republicans what they think of Governor Huntsman's bid, you don't get a bunch of psycho-babble about "inability to forge a connection." You get, "Why would Republicans nominate a guy Obama picked for an important role in his administration?"
McCarthy goes on about Huntsman:
And Huntsman's "solid record"? Maybe he has one if we're gauging him by Republican-establishment standards. After all, as Utah's governor, Huntsman was a spendaholic and global-warming alarmist who was lax on illegal immigration and favored a government mandate that citizens purchase health insurance. Does it get any more mainstream GOP than that? In 2009, Huntsman opined that the problem with Obama's failed Keynesian stimulus was that it wasn't big enough -- it should have been $1 trillion (gee, I wonder why President Obama figured he'd be a good fit). On foreign policy -- a topic on which even the Editors chide Huntsman despite their amazingly generous grading curve -- he appears to be a transnational progressive of the Council on Foreign Relations bent who never met a treaty he didn't like. Much can be said about all of that, but it is not exactly a "solid record" by conservative standards as National Review used to apply them.
Geez, are the wheels coming off National Review or what? Perhaps the editors could get former NR contributor Kathleen Parker up to their offices for a séance. She seems to have a talent for channeling Bill Buckley (and she might want to conjure up William Rusher, too.) Would Buckley and Rusher be Huntsman men? Really?