"[T]his whole thing isn't really about Newt Gingrich vs. Mitt Romney. It is about the GOP establishment vs. the Tea Party grassroots . . . ."
With all due respect, her choice of words is unfortunate. What the Republican party needs right now is respected voices who can help us bridge the various gaps among our membership and sort through our issues and choices soberly and responsibly -- not voices drawing intra-party battle lines that create division now and bitterness later.
What's more, the battle lines the Governor draws don't strike me as particularly accurate.
To me, Romney supporters Ann Coulter and Chris Christie don't really seem like"establishment" Republicans. Nor do Bill McCollum or J.C. Watts (both supporting Gingrich) strike me as particularly representative of the Tea Party. It is hard to understand how Newt Gingrich -- a guy beloved by the MSM media, who has lived off the Washington-style influence-peddling and "crony capitalism" rightly condemned by the Tea Party (and who engineered the widespread use of earmarks in a well-intentioned but flawed effort to entrench Republican House majorities), a man who has spent the campaign bashing capitalism and characterizing a fellow Republican with a more conservative immigration plan than he as "anti-immigrant" -- is automatically the Tea Party choice. Surely there are Tea Partiers who are turned off by his personal life and his routine use of needlessly inflammatory language (even in making perfectly reasonable points) -- and who think that being "Tea Party" is about more than attitude and heated rhetoric.
Likewise, to be fair, there are "establishment" Republicans (whatever, exactly, that term means) who are discomforted by RomneyCare and various position shifts Governor Romney has taken over the years (and perhaps, like me, they are worried when watching less conservative Republicans like John McCain and Bob Dole leap to Romney's defense).
My fellow GOP voters have every right to make those judgments -- I respect their convictions, and understand their position. Their conclusions may be different than mine, but that doesn't make us adversaries or enemies or on "different sides" -- just as their differences in history and demeanor can't disguise the fact that on substance, Governor Romney and Speaker Gingrich actually agree for the most part.
I am a Mitt Romney supporter because I believe he is the most conservative candidate who has a realistic shot at beating President Obama. I have spoken strongly against Speaker Gingrich, and if he were to win the nomination, I would daily fear the kind of spectacular self-immolation from him we have seen before -- to the detriment of our hopes of defeating Barack Obama; our chances of holding the House and taking the Senate; and above all, to the cause of conservatism itself. Were he somehow to win, I have strong doubts that he would be able to run an effective administration that would succeed in implementing some of the reforms that our country truly needs in order to survive as a first-rate power.
All that being said, if Gingrich wins the nomination (as I hope he won't), I will support him and put my fears and misgivings aside and vote for him, notwithstanding that doing so would make me a hypocrite, given my strong disapproval of Bill Clinton and his personal conduct. That is because I believe that, in the end, our primary objective must be to defeat Barack Obama and the cadres of leftists he has brought to power in order to restore our country's greatness and secure our children's futures.
I may not agree with the choices some of my fellow Republicans make, but I find nothing nefarious in their speaking out and acting on their convictions, even when I oppose their views. I don't see distinct collective action among well-defined groups of "Tea Partiers" and "establishment" people (and any Republican who denounces or mischaracterizes the Tea Party -- a much-needed infusion of good ideas and backbone into the GOP bloodstream -- should be ashamed, and should KNOCK IT OFF). With a few unfortunate exceptions, for the most part, I see good people, of all stripes, trying to figure out whom they will support this fall, and who has the best chance of advancing the principles we all cherish.
We are all in this together -- conservative, Tea Party, GOP -- and our real adversary is the same. It is unfortunate, and wrong -- and hardly a sign of leadership -- that a Republican as influential as Sarah Palin is using her power to exacerbate divisions among us, particularly by trying to frame our intra-party differences in a highly inflammatory way that could inflict long-lasting damage that will hurt our ultimate nominee (whoever it is). By doing so, she is acting as Barack Obama's ally -- a thought she, above all, would no doubt find repugnant.