Gingrich and Reagan: The Story Behind the Clashing Opinions

The Drudge Report's headline screamed: "Insider: Gingrich Repeatedly Insulted Reagan."  On the other hand, on Monday, The American Spectator's Jeffrey Lord wrote a complimentary article on Gingrich under the header: "Reagan's Young Lieutenant."

Lord's editor at The American Spectator, R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., writes today at his journal that Gingrich is "Our Bill Clinton," a two-timing, duplicitous, narcissist on par with Boy Clinton (save the charm).  While on Tuesday, again at The American Spectator, contributor Peter Ferrara lauds Gingrich for "Framing the Debate."   

So, who to believe?  How about all of the above?  That's not to weasel out of offering an opinion.  It's to suggest that Newt Gingrich is one complex and controversial character.  Newt has his supporters but, boy, does he have his detractors.  Not since Dick Nixon have voters seen a politician -- Gingrich -- who is such a rich target for brick-throwers. 

Of course, making the accusation that Gingrich insulted the Gipper equals sacrilege.  At least to longtime Washington insider Elliot Abrams, who made the Gingrich as defiler-of-a-conservative-deity charge.  Abrams wrote his recollections for the anti-Newt journal, National Review.

Abrams is a stalwart conservative with a long track record of fighting the good fight in foreign affairs and defense.  Hat tip aside, what Abrams is attempting is to undercut Gingrich's powerful assertion that he's a "Reagan Republican."  That's something Mitt Romney is reluctant to claim, given that he ran against Teddy Kennedy in Massachusetts in 1994 asserting that he had no intention of trying to revive the Reagan-Bush years. 

How can Gingrich possibly be a Reagan Republican and hurl insults at the Gipper and his administration's officials way back in the eighties?  Here's how.

Gingrich, if you haven't caught on, is garrulous, opinionated, impatient, and can be quick-tempered (let's throw in contradictory at times, too).  Gingrich's mouth can run ahead of dispassionate judgment.  That's not a flattering quality, but it hardly makes Gingrich a Reagan desecrater. 

Abrams own words tellingly undermine his claims about Gingrich's anti-Reaganism.  As Abrams chronicles:

As a new member of Congress in the Reagan years - and I was an assistant secretary of state - Mr. Gingrich voted with the president regularly, but equally often spewed insulting rhetoric at Reagan, his top aides, and his policies to defeat Communism. Gingrich was voluble and certain in predicting that Reagan's policies would fail, and in all of this he was dead wrong.  [Italics added.]        

There's the takeaway, folks.  Gingrich voted with President Reagan regularly.  Whatever Gingrich's opinions were at the time (and we're counting on Abrams' recollections nearly a generation after the Gipper left office), Gingrich cast his votes with President Reagan.  Do actions speak louder than words?  In a city -- Washington, D.C. -- where words are cheap, votes on the record are the stronger measure of a politician's positions -- especially when cast favorably or unfavorably regularly

Also, could Abrams have his back up after all these years because of disparaging remarks Gingrich made about him at the time?  That just might be the case.  Heaven protect anyone who bruises Washington's delicate egos.  In D.C., everybody and his mother wants to dish out the criticism, but take it?  No, siree!

And, of course, no one but no one would suggest that Abrams is carrying water for Mitt the Un-Reagan.  Might Abrams be eyeing a position in a Romney administration if Romney wins the presidency?  Nah!  That would never factor in, not among Washington insiders like Abrams.  

Let's do also recall that none other than Michael Reagan -- a devout keeper of his father's flame -- has endorsed Gingrich, and that Michael's stepmother, Nancy, said very complimentary things about Gingrich back in the mid-90s. 

What we're witnessing, ladies and gentlemen, is a full-blown cat fight in the GOP -- the fight is personal, professional, and political.  Keep that in mind.