Erika Johnsen

I realize that politics and campaigning can be a nasty business, and that for plenty of candidates of every political stripe, there are probably few things that they wouldn't do to get elected (that's the ugly truth, but among the known alternatives, democracy and our republic specifically are still absolutely exceptional). I would've hoped, however, that among those who identify even roughly as conservatives--Christian or secular; RINO or fiscal hawk; libertarian or neocon--there was one thing commonly sacred to all of us that we would never, ever betray: free enterprise. The mission of the GOP should be to combat the populist, spoiled, intellectually cheap notion that wealth is inherently evil, and instead to prove to the masses that free enterprise is the root of all good. Freedom, not government, is what creates prosperity, and prosperity, in turn, can eliminate poverty, produce environmental quality, feed the hungry, cure disease, and all manner of wonderful things.

But alas--the Gingrich camp's attack on Mitt Romney's private business record this week was fundamentally disgusting and disillusioning (see what I did there?). Newt Gingrich willingly took up the mantle that we all know Barack Obama will inevitably wear later on this year, campaigning on a platform of class warfare. What a disappointment.

Former NYC Mayor and former GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani appeared on Fox&Friends this morning and gave a vociferous voice to many Republicans' feelings on the situation: What the hell, Newt. What. the. hell.

Giuliani asked, “What the hell are you doing, Newt?  I expect this from Saul Alinsky!  This is what Saul Alinsky taught Barack Obama, and what you’re saying is part of the reason we’re in so much trouble right now.”

Giuliani broadened his criticism to include the attacks on Bain Capital launched by both Gingrich and Texas Governor Rick Perry, who he described as “a very close friend of mine.”  “I’m shocked at what they’re doing,” said Giuliani.  “It’s ignorant and dumb.  It’s building something we should be fighting in America, ignorance of the economic system, playing on the dumbest, most ridiculous ideas about how you grow jobs.”  He characterized the attacks on Romney’s private sector career as “unfair and bad for the Republican Party.”

Listening to Newt's many detestable comments about a "wrong" and a "right" sort of free enterprise over the past few days, I think that, if I merely saw a transcript of them, I would've guessed that it was President Obama talking. We as a society need to understand and embrace that fact that we are fundamentally better off because of the financial class--hedge funds, investment bankers, and corporations included. That's not to say that these entities should go completely unregulated, because even I'll admit that they definitely should be regulated in certain ways, but Republicans have no business jumping on the populist bandwagon that discourages wealth, success, big business, and creative destruction.

Conservatives have plenty of misgivings about Mitt Romney, and it would take quite an astounding turn of events to inspire them to jump to his defense, but Gingrich somehow managed it by playing Benedict Arnold to free enterprise. Bad form, Newt.


Erika Johnsen

Erika Johnsen is a Web Editor for Townhall.com and Townhall Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @erikajohnsen.