Yesterday, I said my piece about Newt Gingrich's shameless anti-capitalistic opportunism in attacking Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital. As I drove through New Hampshire this afternoon, I listened to Rush Limbaugh do the same. Though Rush insisted he was showing "restraint" in his remarks, they were breathtakingly unsparing. Click HERE for the audio. He played a clip of Newt on Fox & Friends this morning, lamenting that Bain had extracted too much money from one of its (relatively few) bought-out companies that went bankrupt. The former Speaker suggested that a 60 or 90 million dollar returns would have been suitable, but that $180 million was a bridge too far. Rush paused, then asked, "do you want me to show you how to translate that?" Roll audio:
That was only the beginning. Over the next hour-and-a-half of programming Rush alternatively compared Gingrich's Lefty, class envy attacks to the rhetoric of Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, the New York Times, Occupy Wall Street, and Michael Moore. He snarked that Newt's Bain salvos should include the tagline, "I'm Barack Obama, and I approve of this message." Of the pro-Newt SuperPAC's anti-Bain propaganda film, he said, "the Left couldn't improve on this." He also asserted that he believes Newt is no longer running for President of the United States, but is instead waging a campaign of vengeance. A partial transcript:
Folks, it is clear here (to me, anyway) what's really going on. This is not a campaign for the presidency. That's not what this is anymore. This is payback time. This is Newt. It drove him nuts that series of ads the Romney super PAC ran against him in Iowa, and this is the result of it. That's why we are where we are. (interruption) No, no. I'm not making excuses, don't misunderstand. I'm just explaining. I'm not defending anybody. I just think this is very unfortunate. This is... (sigh) This is not the kind of stuff you want said by Republicans. I mean, even the establishment Republicans don't go after conservatives this way.
Limbaugh was quick to point out that Romney is a squishy moderate who he fears could end up being the second coming of Richard Nixon. He also explained that he empathized with Newt's frustration over being taken out by a pro-Romney SuperPAC in Iowa. A caller phoned in to berate Rush for siding with Romney over Newt, claiming that Gingrich had "the right to defend himself" from millions of dollars in negative ads. He sure does. As Michelle Malkin pointed out yesterday, there is no shortage of subjects on which to skewer Mitt Romney from a conservative perspective. By all means, expose his serial flip-flops, his prediliction for raising "fees," his professed openness to a VAT, and his ongoing defenses of his big-government healthcare program that served as a state-level incubator for Obama's national monster. Instead, Newt decided to adopt the Left's do-and-say-anything mentality and rip Romney from the Left -- and several other GOP hopefuls have pathetically followed suit.
It's important to mention that 'Restore Our Future' came after Newt from the Right, highlighting his de facto lobbying for Freddie Mac, his 'Couch of Trust' moment with Nancy Pelosi, his record-setting ethics fine after being deposed from the Speakership by his own party, and his startling, damaging attacks on Paul Ryan's 2012 budget. Those are all true, above-board criticisms of Gingrich's record. It does appear, however, that the pro-Romney outside group erred in suggesting that Gingrich had supported a form of taxpayer funded abortion. This was an unfair attack, and Gingrich is justified in resenting it.
Again, though, why demean free-market success? As Rush put it, "capitalism is under assault from within the Republican Party." Whom does that help? Perhaps Newt felt he couldn't really shell Mitt on Romneycare because he himself has supported an individual mandate as recently as 2008. Then again, Newt also has his own financial ties to LBO firms, so I don't quite understand the standard he's employing. Yesterday, Philip Klein -- a persistent Romney critic -- observed that Newt's strategy had accomplished the unthinkable: It united the Right in defending the former Massachusetts governor against a scurrilous attack. Jay Nordlinger, Jim Pethokoukis, and Avik Roy offer particularly trenchant defenses of Bain's business model. The Club for Growth has also punched up its rhetoric hammering the former Speaker. Sadly, Newt Gingrich has adopted the explicit language of Britain's Labour Party as a means to an all-surpassing end. Just like Gingrich's unforced and baffling assist to Democrats on the Ryan plan, this episode is simply indefensible. Gingrich would be best-served to apologize for his class warfare, but that's not going to happen, as South Carolinians will soon discover.
In an exclusive interview outside a Manchester polling place, Ron Paul lashed out at fellow Republicans for making unfair and ignorant attacks on Mitt Romney’s business record. “I think they’re wrong. I think they’re totally misunderstanding the way the market works,” Paul told me. “They are either just demogoging or they don’t have the vaguest idea how the market works.” Paul also came to Romney’s defense for saying “I like to be able to fire people. “I think they’re unfairly attacking him on that issue because he never really literally said that,” Paul said. “They’ve taken him way out of context. … He wants to fire companies.”
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography