National Review contributing editor and columnist Andrew C. McCarthy says Newt Gingrich is a strong conservative with a significant track record — and countered his own publication's editorial criticizing the former House speaker.
In McCarthy's online column posted Saturday, he wrote: "I respectfully dissent from National Review's Wednesday evening editorial."
He writes further that he has been advised that the editorial’s timing “was driven by its inclusion in the last edition of the magazine to be published this year."
McCarthy continued: "Regarding former Speaker Gingrich, I have no objection to the cataloguing of any candidate’s failings, and Newt has certainly made his share of mistakes. But there ought to be balance — balance between a candidate’s failings and his strengths, balance between the treatment of that candidate and of his rivals. The editorial fails on both scores."
In his own column, entitled "Gingrich's Virtues," McCarthy seeks to offer that balance.
"Gingrich’s virtues are shortchanged," McCarthy argues, "His great accomplishment in balancing the federal budget is not even mentioned, an odd omission in an election that is primarily about astronomical spending."
He added that National Review had not offered similar critiques of other GOP candidates with liberal records.
"Nevertheless, if the Editors were enterprising enough, they could just as easily write a similar editorial, with the same tone of alarm, about, say, Governor Romney or Governor Huntsman," McCarthy said.
McCarthy recounted some of Gingrich's spectacular conservative successes:
- "Gingrich is the candidate who can say he actually wrestled the federal budget into balance . . . "
- “In an election about the imperative to repeal Obamacare, Gingrich is the candidate who helped defeat Hillarycare — by comparison, Governor Romney ushered in a health-care system that became a model for Obamacare (and he stubbornly continues to insist that it was a great achievement — the main reason he can’t crack the 25 percent ceiling in most polls)."
- "Gingrich is the candidate who reformed welfare — which, the Editors acknowledge, is 'the most successful social policy of recent decades.'”
McCarthy says Huntsman doesn't pass the conservative sniff test: He was appointed ambassador to China by President Barack Obama; he was a big spender as Utah governor; and he has been a "global-warming alarmist who was lax on illegal immigration and favored a government mandate that citizens purchase health insurance."
McCarthy questioned the editorial’s negative treatment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann at the same time it embraced former Obama administration official Huntsman.
The editorial said Perry would spend much of his time untying his own tongue and added that Bachmann has exhibited a "casual repetition of false anti-vaccine rumors."
In pointing out that, like many other voters, he has not decided which of the Republican presidential candidates to support, McCarthy rails, "What I want at this very early stage is information about the candidates so I can consider them, not a presumptuous and premature pronouncement that good conservatives do not even rate consideration."
McCarthy writes that he is not against anyone’s listing Gingrich's faults, but he emphasizes that he believes the former House speaker's accomplishments in Washington are being "shortchanged."
The former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York points to Gingrich's balancing the federal budget not being mentioned in the Review editorial, adding that "his downsides are exaggerated."
McCarthy concludes his dissenting opinion saying, "If the editors were enterprising enough, they could just as easily write, with the same tone of alarm, about say, Governor Romney or Governor Huntsman."
"Their heresies too are notorious and their explanations no more satisfying," McCarthy states.
He adds that he is not suggesting that such editorials about Romney and Huntsman be done; rather he is just pointing out that they could be done.
"For the editors to single out Gingrich, for this kind of raking, particularly when his accomplishments in government dwarf anything his rivals have managed to achieve — fails the test of judgment conservatives expect from National Review," McCarthy concludes.
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