The Republican civil war
Republican politics have not been this nasty in my memory. Writing at NRO, Elliot Abrams—former embattled assistant secretary of state in the Reagan administration—accuses Newt Gingrich of being a critic of President Reagan, not a supporter and ally as Gingrich himself has been claiming. Abrams supplies various Gingrich remarks from the Reagan years to back up the charge that Gingrich undercut Reagan’s Cold War policies, implying further that Gingrich sided with the Democrats in doing so. Thus:
[T]he most bitter battleground was often in Congress. Here at home, we faced 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. On whom did we rely up on Capitol Hill? There were many stalwarts: Henry Hyde, elected in 1974; Dick Cheney, elected in 1978, the same year as Gingrich; Dan Burton and Connie Mack, elected in 1982; and Tom DeLay, elected in 1984, were among the leaders.In other words, just as the Democrats attacked Reagan, Gingrich attacked Reagan. Gingrich was an ally not of Reagan but of the Democrats.
There are two major problems with this. First, the Gingrich quotations presented by Abrams show Gingrich criticizing Reagan’s anti-Communist policies for not being strong enough. Thus his critical remarks had nothing in common with the anti-Cold War Democrats—the opposite of the impression Abrams tries to leave. Second, in trying to make it appear that Gingrich was against Reagan, Abrams fails repeatedly to provide the context for the Gingrich statements which he quotes. Without the precise context of Gingrich’s at times harshly critical remarks, it seems more likely than not that Gingrich was criticizing, not the policies themselves, but some particular aspect of those policies. Abrams thus completely fails to demonstrate what he pretends to be demonstrating—that Gingrich was an opponent of Reagan’s policies.
Abrams’s article is thus highly questionable, and, I suspect, may on deeper examination turn out to be deliberately deceptive—another anti-Gingrich slander.