While Nancy Pelosi continues to warn Republicans not to nominate Newt Gingrich (which is being used by the Romney camp this week), the Republican establishment is doing a full court press against Gingrich. That has led to some curious moments like Ann Coulter denouncing Gingrich for “hotheaded arrogance”. However, the strangest came from Elliott Abrams who accused Gingrich of the greatest sin of a Republican. No it is not endorsing torture or promising to renew the Iraqi War or even wiping out the separation of church and state. It is the unspeakable act of criticizing Ronald Reagan. Reagan famously handed down the 11th Commandment “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” However, that is merely a venal not the mortal sin of violating the 12th Commandment, “Thou shalt not speak ill of Reagan.”
Republican leadership is calling out ranking establishment figures to question everything from Gingrich’s electability to his morality to secure the nomination for Romney. Elliott Abrams, however, shows how deep they are going in the GOP bench. You may recall Abrams from a little criminal affair called the Iran-Contra scandal. Abrams ultimately pleaded guilty to crimes of withholding information from Congress which included two years probation. He was then pardoned by President George H. W. Bush, in December 1992. Then on February 5, 1997, Abrams was censured by the D.C. Court of Appeals publicly for giving false testimony on three occasions before congressional committees. At the time, three judges wanted to not just impose the censure but to suspend him from practice.
As previously discussed in a column, many of these dark figures from the Reagan years were brought back into government by President George W. Bush, an early indication of the Administration’s approach to the rule of law. Abrams considers himself so rehabilitated in the public eye that he feels entirely comfortable in denouncing Gingrich for statements against Reagan that include criticism over . . . yes guessed it . . . Iran-Contra.
Abrams offers a rather cheerful account of his role, which led to his criminal plea. He accuses Gingrich of saying mean things about Reagan and “predicting that Reagan’s policies would fail, and in all of this he was dead wrong.” Of course, Iran-Contra was not exactly a roaring success.
Yet, Abrams notes that he and others were fighting “vicious criticism from leading Democrats — Ted Kennedy, Christopher Dodd, Jim Wright, Tip O’Neill, and many more — who used every trick in the book to stop Reagan by denying authorities and funds to these efforts.” You may recall that Congress limited funds to the Contras through the Boland Amendment. Abrams notes the Gingrich did in fact vote for the Administration, but said negative things about Reagan. His “best” example was on March 21, 1986.
“This was right in the middle of the fight over funding for the Nicaraguan contras; the money had been cut off by Congress in 1985, though Reagan got $100 million for this cause in 1986. Here is Gingrich: ‘Measured against the scale and momentum of the Soviet empire’s challenge, the Reagan administration has failed, is failing, and without a dramatic change in strategy will continue to fail. . . . President Reagan is clearly failing.’ Why? This was due partly to ‘his administration’s weak policies, which are inadequate and will ultimately fail’; partly to CIA, State, and Defense, which ‘have no strategies to defeat the empire.’ But of course ‘the burden of this failure frankly must be placed first on President Reagan.’ Our efforts against the Communists in the Third World were ‘pathetically incompetent,’ so those anti-Communist members of Congress who questioned the $100 million Reagan sought for the Nicaraguan ‘contra’ rebels ‘are fundamentally right.’
So, Gingrich is unacceptable because he criticized a criminal conspiracy that ultimately landed the Reagan administration into a quagmire of criminal investigations and convictions, including Abrams’ own admission of criminal conduct. This is a lot like a bank robber singling out a witness as unreliable and disrespectful for not remaining silent.
I previously called Abrams part of the Bush Bada Bing club – men who earned their bones by showing their willingness to violate the law. I am no fan of Gingrich, but this pile on is becoming truly Felliniesque.
Next I am waiting for James Watt to come out with his anti-Gingrich column on how Gingrich was not sufficiently supportive of his efforts to influence peddle at the Department of Housing and Urban Development — leaving to his own guilty plea.
It is hard to see how a Republican can purge himself of having spoken ill of the Gipper. The secret purging ceremony has only been witnessed by the Republican National Committee members. It involves the Souix ritual of having one’s pectoral muscles pierced and eagle’s talons are drawn through the wounds and tied to leather thongs from which the Republican hangs until purified. That may take a bit longer for Gingrich . . . at least until after the Florida primary.
Source: National Review