What Line Must Newt Gingrich Cross for Conservatives to Disown Him?

In the 2010 primaries, Charlie Christ, then-governor of Florida and Senate candidate, faced several serious contenders for his seat.  One of the most successful ads used against him by his staunchly conservative opponent, Marco Rubio, was an image of opportunist Charlie Christ hugging Obama at a rally where Charlie helped promote the stimulus package.  Rubio's constant usage of the image, which reminded the Florida voters of Charlie's support for the stimulus, was a key factor in ousting Charlie from his Senate seat.

In the few short years since Obama has become president, he's caused unbelievable destruction for this country via the weakening of our global image, the wrecking of the economy, the heightened division between class and race, and other ruinous policies.  Any politician who had supported Obama in reaching any of his goals deserves to have his opponents harp upon it and to be thrown out of office, as happened to Charlie Christ.

 It is now barely two years after we got rid of Charlie Christ, and I'm left to wonder what has occurred to conservatives' demand for character.  If an image of Charlie hugging Obama was so powerful two short years ago, why doesn't the image of one of our presidential candidates palling around with a different demagogue receive a similar outcry?  Yes, the rabble-rouser in this image hasn't succeeded in dismantling the economy as Obama has, but that's only because he had narrowly lost the Democratic primary several years back.  This individual has actually endorsed and directly participated in violence far more often and personally than Obama.  His actions of destruction haven't occurred on a national platform only because he didn't make it to the presidency, though the racial violence he's incited in the past and continues to incite has led to the deaths of at least a dozen innocent individuals and destroyed the lives of many more.

Obama said that the police acted stupidly and then apologized via a beer summit.  This individual has led many rallies against police officers, including one at which cries of "kill the police" were heard.  This individual has never apologized  or admitted his wrongdoings in even a single one of his countless despicable acts.  Having been proven guilty in court meant the jury was wrong, and he never bothered paying back his buddies who've paid his remuneration to the innocent party.

For those of you who haven't yet figured out who this disgraceful individual must be, I will no longer keep you in suspense.  This is none other than the rabble-rouser Al Sharpton, whose participation and incitatements at instances such as the Tawana Brawley hoax, the Crown Heights riot, the Central Park "wilding" case, and the Freddie's Fashion Mart fire have led to the destruction of many lives and are too numerous to enumerate. 

And the GOP presidential candidate who lavishes praise upon despicable Al?  That is Newt Gingrich, who has accepted the shields Sharpton has donned in an attempt to differentiate himself from the common thug sitting behind bars -- intellectual superiority, racial healer, and education specialist.

Gingrich had teamed up with Al Sharpton on Obama's behalf on an education stint during which Gingrich piled heaps of praise upon Obama for his wonderful stance on education.  Who in his right mind would choose Al Sharpton, from the entire country, as the "education professor" who will help reform the broken system?  Where was Al when Obama closed the voucher program in D.C. which had helped poor, struggling, mostly minority students get a better education at a cheaper cost?  Admittedly, there are some other education professionals such as terrorist Bill Ayers who are equally disqualified.  However, that is not reason enough to dismiss Sharpton's acts of terror, which have NYC trembling in their boots from fear.

After the 2008 campaign, the majority of the conservative field was sorely disappointed to hear that the following McCain ad against Obama hadn't been aired due to McCain's objection in mentioning Obama's pastor:

Narrator: Long before anyone knew who John McCain or Barack Obama were, one chose to honor his fellow soldiers by refusing to walk out of a prisoner of war camp.  The other chose not to even walk out of a church where a pastor was spewing hatred.

Rev. Wright: Not God bless America! God damn America!

Narrator: Character matters, especially when no one's looking.

Why has Newt's chumminess with the violence-inciting Al Sharpton been shoved to a corner?  Perhaps there is no image of an actual hug, though there are plenty of images of joint appearances at rallies across the country.  Are people simply oblivious to Al's heinous acts and unaware of Newt's chummy behavior and praise of Al, or does character no longer matter?

Yes, Newt is a brilliant individual with savvy debating skills, but is that a good enough excuse for conservatives to dump their values?  What was our reaction in 2008 of the Democrats' support of Barack Obama?  Obama, too, was defended as a cool, audience-drawing intellectual with great oratory skills -- and an African-American to boot!  Conservatives, though, were appalled at the left's support of a long-time attendee at Wright's church and a buddy to Tony Rezko and William Ayers.  Conservatives explained that they would oppose Obama's lack of character whether he was white, brown, black, or yellow, yet we now have many respected conservatives who have chosen to support Newt, Sharpton's buddy, out of all other primary candidates!

Fellow conservatives, we can and should do better than this.  Newt's propping Sharpton obviously doesn't cause Newt to be as undesirable as Obama, for he hasn't sat himself and his kids in Sharpton's church for twenty years, and this is just one tiny example about Obama.  However, we are now in something called primary season -- a time where we've got to choose a candidate who represents both our values and our ideology.

Newt lacks both character and a conservative record.  He has embraced just about every liberal big-government idea you can think of at some point in his career.  He demanded government intervention to help control global warming, called for "Green Conservatism" and even co-sponsored an environmentalist bill with Nancy Pelosi, praised FDR in two of his books as "probably the greatest president of the twentieth century," and much more.

One last thought.  The widespread picture where Charlie Christ shared a stage with Obama was taken shortly after Obama's election, when Obama was still extremely popular.  Christ's actions can thus be seen as opportunistic.  Newt Gingrich, however, caused damage to the conservative movement at its height of popularity.  Prior the 2010 midterm elections, when anti-Obama sentiments were rampant across the country and the Tea Party was extremely popular, Newt supported ACORN-friendly, union-pandering, liberal Scozzafava instead of Tea Party conservative Doug Hoffman.  When originally confronted for his odd pick, Newt defended his endorsement with the old "if you seek to be a perfect minority, you'll remain a minority" defense, but this is non-applicable since NY-23 is a Republican district.

Shortly after many Tea Party candidates joined Congress after their victories in 2010, Paul Ryan presented a reasonable plan to reform Medicare for future retirees, and it passed the House with an overwhelming majority.  It was short just a few votes in the Senate and quite popular amongst the public when Newt emerged on the scene and used his superior oratorical skills to lash out against the bill.  Newt blasted it as "right-wing social engineering," which led to its demise.

These are but two examples of Newt's value to conservatism while conservatism was popular.  Never mind the Newt and his actions when anti-Republican emotions were at their peak.  That's the Newt who sat on the couch with Pelosi.

The following question has therefore been haunting and plaguing me, and since I haven't found a proper response, I will present it to Newt supporters: what must Newt have embraced in the past, or which line must he still cross, for you conservatives who support him to say, "That's it! I will no longer support Newt!" beyond taking a gun and going on a shooting rampage or some similar ultra-violent act?

(See also: The Evangelical Case for Newt)

Abie Rubin blogs at The Thinking Voter and can be followed on Twitter.