…because Speaker Gingrich and Ambassador Huntsman’s pants are in flames.
You’ll recall that the gentleman formerly from Georgia has repeatedly condemned negative campaigning and promised to stay positive. Today, as the Speaker is sinking fast in the polls, John McCormack of The Weekly Standard (among others) is reporting that Mr. Gingrich has promised to go negative on Gov. Romney regarding abortion in South Carolina.
Personally, I’m not against negative campaigning. Contrast is important. I’m just against hypocrites, especially when their line of attack is bogus, which Speaker Gingrich’s is. The Standard even quotes our friendly neighborhood EFM constitutional attorney:
It’s true that the Massachusetts supreme court ruled in 1981 that the state must fund abortions for people on government health plans such as Medicaid. Twelve other states—including conservative or battleground states such as Arizona, West Virginia, Minnesota, and Alaska—pay for abortions for Medicaid recipients because of state supreme court rulings. Only four states have enacted laws through the legislative process to allow taxpayer funding of abortion.
Still, some social conservatives don’t buy Romney’s defense that it’s all the fault of the judges. “You know what I would think if I were a pro-lifer? That’s a pretty darn good reason not to have the government take over the health care system,” says Steve Deace, a Christian conservative Iowa radio host and longtime Romney antagonist. “Forget the mandate, which is wrong to begin with. The first moral principle is don’t murder.”
Why would Romney expand access to government-subsidized health care if those plans would cover elective abortions? David French of Evangelicals for Mitt says that argument is a “classic example of not understanding what an actual governor of an actual blue state has to face.”
“Mitt Romney did not have the option of saying . . . that there won’t be government involvement in Massachusetts health care,” says French. “He was a conservative governor facing a veto-proof [Democratic] supermajority in both houses dead-set on a particular kind of health care reform.”
French argues that by going to the Heritage Foundation for advice and using what leverage he had, Romney got the best deal he could in Massachusetts. “Doing nothing wasn’t a realistic alternative,” he says. “People need to get over the idea that he’s coming out of Texas. He’s coming out of Massachusetts.”
“I don’t think it is fair to say that Governor Romney just expanded taxpayer funding for abortion as though that was kind of a directly intended policy decision on his part,” says Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor at National Review and author of The Party of Death. “I certainly take the point that Massachusetts law requires abortion funding under Medicaid, and that is a reason not to expand Medicaid,” he says. “But you have to be careful about the principle that you’re acting on here. You don’t want to say something like you don’t want, let’s say, a free market insurance policy that leads to more people getting insurance” because some private insurance policies cover abortions.
While we’re noting hypocrisy, you might also recall that Ambassador Huntsman pledged in his announcement speech to wage a civil campaign, noting, “I don’t think you need to run down somebody’s reputation in order to run for the office of president.” He also reneged today, releasing a web video comparing Congressman Paul to a “crazy uncle” and using Twilight Zone music. It’s a funny ad. But I’m not the one who promised civility over humor.
We’ve been pretty clear here at EFM that we don’t think there is a “Conservative Messiah” for whom we should be looking. So we don’t lose a whole lot of sleep over politicians, who are all human, falling short of some unattainable, imagined ideal. It’s an entirely different matter–and one worth noting–when they ignore their own promises mere weeks or months after making them.