Fair and Foul Charges Against Gingrich

Romney’s Super PAC has an ad making some misleading attacks on Gingrich. Here’s the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler “fact checking” the ad.

The ad says, “As Speaker, Gingrich supported taxpayer funding of some abortions.” In the early Clinton years, the Hyde amendment was weakened so that federal Medicaid funds could be used to pay for abortions arising from cases of rape or incest. Gingrich, upon taking the Speakership, declined to try to overturn this policy. As far as I know, Romney does not seek to overturn it either — which makes this an unfair shot. [Update: That “as far as I know” really isn’t necessary. Romney has never pledged to strengthen the Hyde amendment to apply to rape and incest abortions. See what he has pledged here.]

Another claim that Kessler disputes seems to me fair game. Here’s the claim: “Freddie Mac, which helped cause the economic collapse, paid Newt Gingrich $30,000 an hour for a total of at least $1.6 million.” Kessler writes, “The suggestion here is that Freddie Mac caused the 2008 economic crash, which is a simplistic assertion.” Actually, there’s a word of difference between “helped cause” and “caused,” and of the two phrases the more simplistic is Kessler’s. The fact-checker continues, “Restore Our Future cited as a source an opinion article written by Peter Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute, but his theories are not the consensus view. Joe Nocera of The New York Times on Tuesday explained well the problems with this claim.” So what? This is a disputed theory, not a question of fact; see Wallison’s response to Nocera. Anyway, admakers are under no obligation to stick to “the consensus view.”

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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