...One of the left's favorite weapons is frivolous ethics complaints. That's what they used to bring down the architect of the 1994 "Republican Revolution", Newt Gingrich.
Prior to the election of 1994, the Democrats had held a majority in the House of Representatives for nearly 4 decades. Working with a team of grassroots activists, Newt selected and trained candidates, shaped a political message, and became what [David] Horowitz called "something rare in Republican politics--a genuine movement leader."
To the left, that meant one thing: he had to be eliminated. There are many fine Democrat public servants, but sadly many in the party have moved increasingly left, and often the beating heart of their political warfare had been the personal distruction of their enemies. Generally speaking, after decades of failed social policies and weak national security positions, the party doesn't have a strong base of success from which to win political arguments. So it targets people instead of ideas.
Back in the 1990s, Democrats had Newt in their sights. And strangely enough, the more influential he became, the more "unethical" he became--at least if you count the number of complaints filed against him. Horowitz wrote, "Eventually, Democrats lodged seventy-four separate charges against Gingrich, sixty-five were summarily 'laughed out the committee'.
Over time the cloud of ethical questions hanging over Newt reached critical mass. Instead of defending their own, Republicans on certain committees forced Newt to concede one charge.
-Governor Palin in Going Rogue (page 363-364) (emphasis added)Yesterday, Governor Palin wrote a scathing rebuke of the GOP Establishment, which based upon the title of that Facebook post, I'm going to now refer to as the Donner Party.Governor Palin has recognized the tactics of the left as they have been applied to both Speaker Gingrich and herself. The excerpt from her book that I shared above comes amid her discussion of the frivolous charges launched at her. What this excerpt and her Facebook post really boil down to is three things: 1) the savageness of the left 2) the passive and sometimes non-existent defense of the "right" and 3) the cannibalism that has been employed by the "Donner Party".
As Governor Palin wrote in that Facebook post:
But this whole thing isn’t really about Newt Gingrich vs. Mitt Romney. It is about the GOP establishment vs. the Tea Party grassroots and independent Americans who are sick of the politics of personal destruction used now by both parties’ operatives with a complicit media egging it on. In fact, the establishment has been just as dismissive of Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. Newt is an imperfect vessel for Tea Party support, but in South Carolina the Tea Party chose to get behind him instead of the old guard’s choice. In response, the GOP establishment voices denounced South Carolinian voters with the same vitriol we usually see from the left when they spew hatred at everyday Americans “bitterly clinging” to their faith and their Second Amendment rights. The Tea Party was once again told to sit down and shut up and listen to the “wisdom” of their betters. We were reminded of the litany of Tea Party endorsed candidates in 2010 who didn’t win. Well, here’s a little newsflash to the establishment: without the Tea Party there would have been no historic 2010 victory at all.
As I said in my speech in Iowa last September, the challenge of this election is not simply to replace President Obama. The real challenge is who and what we will replace him with. It’s not enough to just change up the uniform. If we don’t change the team and the game plan, we won’t save our country. We truly need sudden and relentless reform in Washington to defend our republic, though it’s becoming clearer that the old guard wants anything but that. That is why we should all be concerned by the tactics employed by the establishment this week. We will not save our country by becoming like the left. And I question whether the GOP establishment would ever employ the same harsh tactics they used on Newt against Obama. I didn’t see it in 2008. Many of these same characters sat on their thumbs in ‘08 and let Obama escape unvetted. Oddly, they’re now using every available microscope and endoscope – along with rewriting history – in attempts to character assassinate anyone challenging their chosen one in their own party’s primary. So, one must ask, who are they really running against?Governor Palin has seen the nature of the tactics of the left and some in the Establishment first hand. She saw her family attacked, her maternity questioned, and her record misrepresented by an Obama campaign machine and a complicit media. The media still employ individuals, like recent Newsweek cover story author Andrew Sullivan, who question that she is the mother of her youngest son. The 2008 election and beyond brought a whole flurry of attacks on Governor Palin and her record. A legislative inquiry, billed as an "October surprise" for the 2008 election, was launched into whether or not Governor Palin pressured a commissioner to fire a state trooper for personal reasons. This was led by a Alaskan Democrat who later was rewarded with a cushy job in the Obama Interior Department, and the Obama campaign kept in contact with the trooper's union during the proceedings. Her record--from funding for special needs education as Governor to funding for rape kits while mayor--was lied about. Additionally, when the barrage of frivolous ethics complaints were levied against the Governor in 2009, many of them came from the DNC's official Alaskan blogger for the 2008 campaign. The McCain campaign in 2008 and few if any Republicans in 2009 came to her defense when her record was misrepresented, her character was attacked, and unsubstantiated charges were levied against her.
As an electoral defeat seemed imminent and eventually came to be in 2008, anonymous McCain staffers (many of whom were former Romney staffers) were thought to be the ones who disparaged the Governor--who was a candidate on the very ticket they were working for--by saying she "went rogue" against the McCain campaign's direction, didn't know that Africa was a continent, and answered the door of her hotel room with nothing but a towel on during the campaign. All this happened while, as Governor Palin stated in her Facebook post, "[m]any of these same characters sat on their thumbs in ‘08 and let Obama escape unvetted". Senator McCain's staff was kneecapping their own candidate while Senator McCain was unwilling to effectively focus on candidate Obama's associates and lack of a record.
In 2010, anonymous Romney staffers would dismiss Governor Palin as "not a serious human being", and even as recently as last fall, other anonymous staffers joked that they would be trilled with a Palin (and/or a Bachmann) candidacy because they could run against those "crazy women". Not juxtaposition of records or ideas, but personal attacks, not by Romney himself, but by anonymous staff. His hands stay clean while his potential opponents get knocked.
It's not just about Governor Palin, though in spite of the fact she isn't running for President this cycle, the Donner Party still sees her as a great threat. It is the Tea Party movement.When Christine O'Donnell won the GOP primary race for Senate in Delaware, GOP Establishmentarian Karl Rove and others spent the remainder of the campaign bashing O'Donnell and the Tea Party movement and essentially serving as an across-the-aisle surrogate for Chris Coons, the Democratic candidate and later victor of the race. To be sure, O'Donnell was in many ways a flawed and perhaps out-of-depth candidate, but the level of vitriol launched at her by her own party was hurtful to their chance to potentially regain control of the Senate. Although like O'Donnell, Nikki Haley is seen by some as a traitor to Tea Party principles following her endorsement of Mitt Romney, she was one of the many who came into office under the wave of the Tea Party. Haley won her race in spite of sexist and Establishment lies about alleged affairs launched at her. Again, the South Carolina Establishment, rather than supporting their party's gubernatorial nominee, levied attacks against her. To his credit, Governor Romney did support Nikki Haley in this, though the same could not be said of the next attack on Tea Party conservatives when the tragedy of the Tucson shootings occurred a few months following the 2010 election. Romney and others said little if anything in defense of the Governor Palin, specifically, and the Tea Party, more broadly, when they were essentially deemed to be essentially accomplices to murder. Governor Palin is absolutely right. These folks are political cannibals, or at the very least, political pacifists unwilling to defend the people of their own party.
In Governor Palin's post, she articulates that this is also not about Newt Gingrich. In fact, Gingrich's support of liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava in the special election in NY-23 indicated that he was willing to go along with the Establishment, and he even criticized Governor Palin for supporting conservative candidate Doug Hoffmann. Gingrich has indeed been in Washington for many years and isn't without fault, but at this point in the election, poses the greatest threat to the Establishment's golden boy, Mitt Romney. As with any election, the candidates are imperfect. Herein lies the beauty of the American electoral experience! James Madison once said, " if men were angels, there would be no need for government". The beauty of the America lies in the fact that we choose are leaders from among ourselves. By default, they are going to be imperfect. That's not to say that their faults are to be excused. Quite possibly the only thing that Mitt Romney has not flip flopped on is the topic of Romneycare, among his other faults. Newt Gingrich has supported efforts on climate change with Nancy Pelosi and education with Al Sharpton among other liberal notions he's espoused over the years. Rick Santorum has voted against national right-to-work laws and has some issues with using taxpayer money to fund his children's "cyber school" education. Ron Paul has a dangerous approach to Iran, and in spite of his strong stand against massive government spending, has requested millions in earmarks, even at a time when the GOP has called for a moratorium on earmarks. Like Governor Palin said, Newt Gingrich is an "imperfect vessel". Any candidate would have some level of imperfection.
The problem with the Donner wing of the GOP is that a double standard is applied. Earlier during the presidential primary, Romney hit then candidate Rick Perry from the left on Social Security without a peep from the Establishment, but when Newt Gingrich hit Romney from the Left on Bain Capital, it was seen as an inexcusable attack on capitalism. Romney, the candidate who said that he didn't want to return to the ways of Reagan, have been inaccurately and malevolently trying to paint Newt Gingrich as anti-Reagan. To be sure, Gingrich has perhaps been critical of Reagan's state department and had suggestions for George HW Bush's campaign, but to paint the man whom Nancy Reagan said carried President Reagan's torch, is an underhanded tactic. One could only imagine the tactics the Establishment would use against Governor Palin had she chosen to run. Attacks on her resignation and the frivolous ethics complaints would likely be used to try to paint her as not up to the pressure of the job of leader of the free world. Who knows? They may have even tried to paint her as anti-Thatcher as well!
The Establishment wants a coronation; the electorate wants a nomination. Generally it has been the "next-in-line" who has gotten the support of the Establishment. In 2008, it was John McCain, and in 2012, it is Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney has gotten the support of the those in the conservative media--Jennifer Rubin and Ann Coulter. He has received the support of the likes of John McCain, President George HW Bush, and Bob Dole--candidates who took the phrase "everything in moderation" and turned it into a political ideology. Whoever has been the biggest challenge to Mitt Romney has been disparaged by the Establishment. Jennifer Rubin started writing negative pieces about Governor Palin 8 days after she started writing for the Washington Post. At the time, Governor Palin's potential candidacy was the biggest threat to Romney's nomination. The Establishment knocked Rick Perry when his candidacy peeked and was a threat to Romney's nomination. Tom Ridge, moderate Republican and former Bush Cabinet member, hit Michele Bachmann as inexperienced when she was at her peak. While Newt Gingrich is seen as a Washington insider, he is not necessarily the Establishment's choice, and has therefore been in many ways unfairly attacked.
To be sure, campaigns are cutthroat. Records need to be exposed. Policy plans will be scrutinized. Character will be tested. This is all for the benefit of the electorate and the refining of the candidates' mettle. Same standards must be applied to all candidates. People who cry foul on Gingrich's misrepresentation of Romney's immigration stance can't try to sweep Romney's misrepresentation of Gingrich's ethics record under the rug. Our country was founded in part because the settlers wanted representation; they didn't want a distant king calling down orders and levying taxes from on high. Similarly, the conservative electorate, or any American electorate for that matter, does not want an oligarchical "Donner Party" to determine the outcome of election. Here in Illinois, some of Mitt Romney's delegates are challenging Rick Santorum's ballot petition signatures to potentially keep him off the Illinois primary ballot. Mitt Romney's Illinois campaign manager is also our state treasurer. Never mind that in the interim, Illinois credit was downgraded to the worst in the country. Getting a political opponent off the ballot is far more important than hunkering down and addressing a major fiscal crisis to those backing Romney. In other words, Romney's supporters would rather not give Illinoisans a choice of candidates rather than win the battle of ideas.
Thankfully, there are people like Governor Palin who are echoing the words of President Reagan when he said, "those voices don't speak for the rest of us" when speaking about the Elite whether it liberals in elected office or those in the political power at a party level. During her gubernatorial run in 2006, a pivotal point came when Governor Palin's opponents were bickering, and she interrupted them and calmly said, "we owe Alaskans a better discourse than this". Governor Palin has essentially said the same thing on a national level. The GOP owes the electorate a discourse, not an Establishment monologue, on the issues, and they owe us a better one. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, " Great minds discuss ideas;average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people". This primary election must be a discourse of ideas, not a barrage of personal attacks. As an undecided voter, a discourse of ideas, not an Establishment command, is what I would like to see in the coming weeks and months of this upcoming election. I'm glad to see that Governor Palin has continued to hold the Donner Party accountable for their tactics.
Crossposted here and here.