WSJ Knocks Gingrich for 'Poll-driven Timidity'

Tuesday, 17 May 2011 04:57 PM

By Martin Gould

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The Wall Street Journal jumped into the race for the Republican Presidential nomination for the second time in a week today, trashing Newt Gingrich for his stand against the GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to reform health care.

“Mr. Gingrich chose to throw his former allies in the GOP House not so much under the bus as off the Grand Canyon rim,” the paper said in discussing the former House Speaker’s appearance on Sunday’s “Meet the Press.”

And his “odd combination of partisan, divisive rhetoric and poll-driven policy timidity,” revealed his weakness both as a candidate and a potential president, said the Journal, adding that the former House Speaker “had decided to run against House Republicans on Medicare.

“They must be loving this in the White House,” said the Journal’s editorial which was headlined “Gingrich to House GOP: Drop Dead.”

The attack on the man who led the 1994 Republican Revolution in the House follows one from last Thursday in which the paper said Mitt Romney would be more suited as President Obama’s running mate than his opponent because of his stance on health care.

Today’s piece was just as unforgiving. “Mr. Gingrich knows that all but four House Republicans voted for a budget outline that includes Mr. Ryan's Medicare plan, so his remarks had the political effect of undermining his former comrades in the middle of their budget showdown with President Obama,” it said.

In an interview with the Journal, Gingrich said he “probably used too strong language” while discussing Ryan’s plan with David Gregory.

That admission failed to impress the editorial writers, who said that Gingrich must know there is no chance of the Ryan plan passing Congress before November 2012 election given opposition in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

“Our guess is that a politician as experienced as Mr. Gingrich knew exactly what he was doing and that as he runs for President, he wants to appear to be more moderate than he has sounded over the last, oh, 20 years, by suddenly triangulating against the GOP House he once led.”

The Journal said Gingrich’s own health care reforms in the 1990s together with the Medicare drug entitlement that he lobbied for in 2003 were part of the reasons why the Ryan plan is needed.

“Yet now he is trashing Mr. Ryan for thinking far more deeply about health care, and in a far more principled fashion, than Mr. Gingrich ever has. The episode reveals the Georgian's weakness as a candidate, and especially as a potential President—to wit, his odd combination of partisan, divisive rhetoric and poll-driven policy timidity.”

And it points out the fundamental differences between the former House Speaker and the Chairman of the House Budget Committee. “Mr. Ryan speaks softly but proposes policies commensurate with America's problems. Mr. Gingrich speaks loudly but shrinks from hard choices,” it said. “Who's the ‘radical’ and who's the real leader?

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