Romney the slanderer

On Tuesday I wrote that Romney lied at the NBC debate Monday night when he said, at least twice, that Gingrich had “resigned in disgrace” from the Congress. I then read more about the House ethics charges in the article about Gingrich at Wikipedia but didn’t get around to posting about it. The article tells that he admitted in 1997 to some very obscure offense and paid $300,000 to make the matter go away, and that after he had left the Congress at the beginning of 1999, the IRS later that year exonerated him entirely of any wrongdoing. Also, as far as the House was concerned, the ethics matter was resolved in early 1997. It was the November 1998 elections, in which the House Republicans lost five seats (very unusual for the non-presidential party during an off-year election), in combination with a rebellion against Gingrich in the Republican caucus, that led Gingrich, the day after the election, to announce his resignation from the Speakership and from the Congress. There was nothing disgraceful about his resignation; he resigned honorably and for ordinary political reasons, namely that his party had done poorly in an election and he had lost the political support of his caucus.

The always valuable reporter Byron York, who covered the story closely at the time, provides a detailed summary of it at the Washington Examiner which is must reading. Basically the ethics charges were a no-holds-barred campaign by the Democrats to destroy Gingrich, using all the resources of the liberal media to construct a picture of wrongdoing by the then-Speaker when in fact there had been no wrongdoing. He was simply teaching a college course, which the media constructed into some sinister criminal activity. York tells a scarifying tale of what it is like to be hated and targeted by the left in this country, what it is like to be the left’s Enemy Number One, which Gingrich was for the four years of his Speakership.

For Romney, a Republican candidate for president, to dredge up the same false, lying accusations against Gingrich that the Democrats and the media had so ruthlessly and massively deployed against him in the 1990s; for Romney to keep repeating that Gingrich “resigned in disgrace,” as though he resigned over the ethics charges, when in fact his resignation had nothing to do with the ethics charges which had been resolved in the House almost two years earlier, and when in fact after his departure from the House Gingrich was ultimately cleared of all accusations of wrongdoing that had been leveled at him by his wicked political enemies, is one of the most despicable things I have seen in presidential politics. Romney has borne false witness of the most vile kind. His reputation as a man of upright character lies in tatters.

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LA writes:

And for Romney, after slandering Gingrich in the opening minutes of the NBC debate, to stand there smiling benignly and patronizingly at Gingrich when Gingrich spoke (that same weirdly fake smile that has been pasted on his face throughout all the debates as he gazes on his opponents when they are speaking), reveals a man who is radically disconnected from himself.

Mark Jaws writes:

I am glad to read that there is at least one journalist who pleases Don “El Exigente” Lorenzo—“the always valuable” Byron York. For Mr. York to have earned that distinction, speaks volumes about his true value.

Steve R. writes:

I’m glad you’ve arrived at that conclusion. A while ago I read about those patently unfair ethics charges and was waiting to see if Romney would stoop so low as to parrot the Democrats. For this, Romney truly deserves a PAC ad bluntly accusing him exactly as you have done here. Perhaps you thought Mitchell B.’s comment in the “Why do people hate Romney’?’ post was over the top. I didn’t. Romney is a smooth liar.

Kidist Paulos Asrat writes:

I don’t understand why Romney would do this.

LA replies:

He decided to go all out to tear down Gingrich.

Lou C. writes:

Romney’s probably not aware of the precise details of Gingrich’s resignation as Speaker of the house. This story line was no doubt fed to him by members of his campaign staff. [LA replies: If Romney were an honest man, then in order for him to say that Gingrich, quote unquote, “resigned in disgrace” from the Speakership, he had to have some facts to support such a grave statement. But he could not have had such facts, because they did not exist. To understand this point, take me as an example. Prior to reading up on this issue yesterday and last night, I did not know much about the ethics charges (though I should have), but I knew enough to know—because I remembered it from the time—that Gingrich did not resign over ethics charges, he resigned because the Republicans had lost five seats in an off-year election in which they should have gained seats, and because his caucus was increasingly restive and threatening to unseat him. The only source one could have for the statement that Gingrich resigned in disgrace was the Democrats’ own ongoing campaign of lies and hatred against Gingrich. Therefore there is no way to mitigate or excuse Romney’s act of slander.]

After a speech or debate, news outlets do a “fact check” regarding what was said. About 50 percent of what candidates assert is factually wrong. Given the amount of verbiage that daily and hourly streams out of a candidate’s mouth, one would expect a high percentage of it to be inaccurate. Romney and his staff probably don’t care how accurate their description of Gingrich’s exit as Speaker is, as long as the word “disgraceful” sticks in the public’s mind. [LA replies: Falsely declaring in a national televised debate that your opponent “resigned in disgrace” from a high political office because of ethics charges is much worse than than the usual falsehoods used in campaigns. It is wrong to try to lessen the gravity of what Romney did by equating it with garden variety campaign hype. There is a specially horrible punishment in Dante’s Inferno for slanderers.]

Jerry Z. writes:

You’ve done us all a great service by broadcasting the background and facts behind the false charges made by Mitt Romney against Newt Gingrich. That article by Byron York in The Washington Examiner makes clear the vicious political attack behind the charges brought by a bitter Democrat establishment against the man who unseated them after four decades. Romney is truly an agent of the Democrats and a character assasin for trotting out the lying effluvia from a political assault against an honorable man and former Speaker of the House.

LA replies:

Personally I wouldn’t go so far as to call Gingrich an honorable man, but he was victimized terribly by the Democrats and the liberal media, he was innocent of the charges, and his resignation from the House was honorable.

January 26

Ferg writes:

I was in regular cantact with a member of the House Republican Caucus at the time Newt stepped down. As I recall the story, he had done little or nothing to help re-elect Republicans to the House and had assured everyone it was un-necessary, that they would hold their own or even gain seats. This of course did not happen so there was a revolt in the caucus against his leadership, which was seen as inadequate. They felt he had fumbled the ball. I thought of it at the time as being thrown out under a cloud so I kind of think of his resignation as having been in disgrace. Just my take on it but that is the way it felt to me at the time.

LA replies:

First, resigning because of political failure is not what most people mean by disgrace. Second, Romney clearly did not mean resigning because of political failure, but resigning because of ethics charges. Romney demonstrated that this was his meaning when he demanded that all the supposedly non-published material from the ethics investigation be published, and Pelosi’s own office corrected him and said that everything from the investigation is already in the public realm.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 25, 2012 08:40 AM | Send

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