Ronald Reagan once said:
The personal attacks against me during the primary finally became so heavy that the state Republican chairman, Gaylord Parkinson, postulated what he called the Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican. It’s a rule I followed during that campaign and have ever since.
Whatever happened to Reagan’s 11th commandment? The reason I ask is laid out here in this post at Legal Insurrection:
It’s not always framed using the word “crazy,” but that’s the theme — he’s erratic, can’t be trusted, has a personality defect which makes him dangerous. TPM sums up the Romney theme:
Launching an aggressive attack on rival Newt Gingrich, the Romney campaign is engaging a character-assassination strategy, painting the former speaker as unfit for a position of leadership.
We hear it every day from David Frum (“A Gingrich presidency, if such a thing can even be imagined, would be a chaotic catastrophe”); Jennifer Rubin (“Gingrich’s mind is an attic of throwaway, unusable and downright goofy ideas, piled high like newspapers in the room of a troubled subject on “Hoarders”), Ramesh Ponnuru (“he is temperamentally unsuited for the presidency”); Peggy Noonan (“He’s a trouble magnet”); Ann Coulter (“Not only were they completely crazy, but Newt’s grand schemes didn’t quite fit the Republican model of a small, unintrusive federal government); and other pro-Romney media types.
We’re also hearing it from Romney campaign surrogates like John Sununu (“He all but called Gingrich crazy”) and Peter King (“doesn’t have the discipline and doesn’t have the capacity to control himself”).
This strategy is the same as the Democrats’ “strategy of crazy” launched against the Tea Party movement in 2009 and crystallized as policy after Scott Brown’s election in January 2010. Your opponent isn’t simply wrong, or not the best choice, or a flip-flopper, he’s nuts.
At Slate, one prominent left-leaning blogger comes right out and says what his “conservative” compatriots have been saying implicitly, Is Newt Nuts?
I really don’t see how the Romney supporters using the strategy of crazy have left themselves an exit strategy if and when their candidate loses to Gingrich. If they have convinced themselves that Newt really is crazy, then there is no way they could support him even over Obama.
And frankly, I don’t expect them to.
Update: Add David Brooks (h/t Ben Smith) to the team (“He has every negative character trait that conservatives associate with ’60s excess: narcissism, self-righteousness, self-indulgence and intemperance”).
Ol’ Smilin’ Mitt has cruised through the past few months without breaking a sweat or getting his hands dirty. Now his campaign is stirred up like a bunch of scared chihuahuas.
All’s fair in love and war and politics ain’t beanbag. I’m not gonna shed a tear if Naughty Newty gets torn limb from limb by the media lapdogs. But I’ve never seen the GOPers air their laundry in public like this before. It’s like they would rather see Obama win then face the prospect of President Gingrich.
Personally I think Bush – Obama – Gingrich is the trifecta of bad. Maybe the Mayans were right about 2012.