Sunday, January 29, 2012

The GOP Empire Strikes Back at Gingrich

It's sort of perverse fun to watch the gyrations within the Republican Party as the so-called establishment tries to sabotage Newt Gingrich's campaign. Granted, those who remember his tenure as Speaker of the House and his scandal wrought exit from Congress have plenty of reasons to want to push Gingrich back into the political wilderness. But it's still fun to watch the those who are generally the enemies of LGBT equality train their weaponry on one of their own rather than the LGBT community. As an added bonus, the intra-party strife and nastiness makes the Democrats look as if they have their act together in relative terms. A piece in the Washington Post looks at the efforts of those who view themselves as main stream Republicans to end Gingrich's insurrection. Here are excerpts:

The revenge of the Republican establishment is a sight to behold. From one corner to another, those who have tangled with Newt Gingrich, who feel aggrieved toward Newt Gingrich or who fear Newt Gingrich have amassed to stop him. They know how much harder it will be to do so if the former House speaker wins Florida on Tuesday.

The quintessential example of establishment angst came Thursday from Bob Dole, the former Senate majority leader and 1996 Republican presidential nominee. Hours before Thursday’s GOP debate, he released a letter — circulated by Mitt Romney’s campaign — attacking Gingrich and pleading with Republican voters not to make him the party’s nominee.

Dole is just one voice in a chorus of critics who have spoken out. Gingrich’s victory in South Carolina just a week ago sent a shudder through the ranks of elected officials and others who make up the establishment and the conservative elite. Fear of Newt has displaced lack of love for Romney as the dominant emotion among these Republicans.

The establishment message that Gingrich is a threat to the party is not new, but the intensity with which it is being delivered is. That he might become the nominee has touched off near panic in the ranks ahead of Tuesday’s vote. Party establishments, to the degree they exist, have only limited power to direct the course of events. But to the extent that they have power, they are exercising it with a vengeance.

“If Gingrich is the nominee it will have an adverse impact on Republican candidates running for county, state, and federal offices,” Dole wrote. “Hardly anyone who served with Newt in Congress has endorsed him and that fact speaks for itself. He was a one-man-band who rarely took advice. It was his way or the highway.”

What is fascinating about the Republican race is that, in a matter of days and weeks, it has turned from the question of whether a stop-Romney movement would materialize to the reality that a stop-Gingrich movement now has taken shape.

Those who underestimate Gingrich today were many of the same people who underestimated him as he crashed his way into the upper ranks of the party more than two decades ago. He may resent what the establishment is doing to him now, but he also may welcome the attacks as ratification that he remains a threat to established order.

Gingrich may lose this battle, and he could damage himself in the process. But he will not go quietly, and his old friends and enemies in the party know it.

And so the spectacle will play out. I plan on enjoying it.

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