Jeffrey Lord, a political insider in the Reagan White House, railed against Newt Gingrich critic Elliott Abrams today for “grossly misrepresenting” Gingrich’s speeches on the floor of the House of Representatives in the 1980s as anti-Reagan when Gingrich was in fact lauding Reagan for his fight against Communist insurgents in Central America.
“It does no one -- least of all Elliott Abrams or Governor Romney -- any good to try and say that Newt Gingrich, as loyal a friend and ally to Ronald Reagan as could be found in the day -- was somehow some crazed anti-Reaganite who got the Cold War wrong. Not only is this not true, its laughably untrue,” writes Lord in today’s American Spectator.
Abrams, Lord writes, was surely hoping no one would bother to “get into the weeds” and uncover the full record of what Gingrich said in 1986. But someone, a former Gingrich foreign policy staffer who now works in private industry, did, tracking down the Congressional Record for that year.
The record shows that Gingrich said of Reagan in a floor speech on March 21, 1986:
"Let me be clear: I have the greatest respect for President Reagan. I think he personally understands the threat of communism."
Gingrich, writes Lord, went on to praise Reagan for his understanding of Vladimir Lenin and applaud Reagan for understanding the threat posed by the Soviet empire and by Nicaragua, where $1 billion in assistance from Moscow fueled a Marxist revolution.
“The Newt Gingrich who spoke on the floor of the House on March 21, 1986, was thoroughly pro-Reagan, honestly engaging in a serious intellectual effort to assess the strengths and weaknesses of American foreign policy in the day from a hierarchy of vision, strategy, operations or projects and then, last but not least, tactics,” wrote Lord.
Lord calls Abrams’ criticism of Gingrich, published in a National Review Online article on Thursday, “shameful.”
Abrams, a deputy secretary of state under Ronald Reagan, had quoted Gingrich saying of Reagan, “his administration’s weak policies, which are inadequate and will ultimately fail.”
Lord presents Gingrich’s full quote:
"The fact is that George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Irving Kristol, and Jeane Kirkpatrick are right in pointing out the enormous gap between President Reagan's strong rhetoric, which is adequate, and his administration's weak policies, which are inadequate and will ultimately fail."
“In other words,” writes Lord, “Newt was picking up on a concern, prominent in the day and voiced by no less than Reagan's then ex-UN Ambassador Kirkpatrick, not to mention prominent Reagan supporters Will and Kristol and the late-Mondale aide turned conservative Krauthammer, that Reagan's anti-Communist policies could be stronger if better institutionalized and not tied as much to the Reagan persona. The entire speech focused on suggestions of how to do just that -- to effectively institutionalize Reagan's conservative beliefs in the government.”
Lord excoriates Abrams for having been caught up in the establishment’s anti-Gingrich “frothings” and of carrying water for the Romney campaign, perhaps angling for a job in a future possible Romney administration.
But Lord, now a contributing editor with The American Spectator, tells Newsmax that if history has anything to teach us, we’ll never see a Romney administration.
Romney, he says, is in a long tradition of moderate Republicans like Arizona Sen. John McCain, former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, one-term President Gerald Ford and former New York Gov. Thomas Dewey, who ran for president in 1940, 1944 and 1948.
“These people, more often than not, lose the presidency,” he said.
Lord knew Gingrich when he worked as associate political director to former President Ronald Reagan from 1985 to 1988, reporting to Mitch Daniels, now governor of Indiana. Gingrich was a junior member of Congress from Georgia, and like other Republican members of Congress at that time, frequently visited the White House.
“I never, ever, heard Elliott Abrams or anyone else in the White House say ‘We’ve really got a problem on our hands with Newt Gingrich.’ It never happened. We all knew he was a staunch ally of Reagan,” says Lord.
Lord says Gingrich is “absolutely” Reagan’s heir and that the criticisms of Gingrich are “very reminiscent” of criticisms of Winston Churchill in Great Britain in the 1930s. Like Gingrich, by this point in his career Churchill had “made all kinds of enemies” and was not seen as a viable candidate to lead the nation until people realized that what he’d been saying over the years was right.
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