National Review editorial: Just say no to Gingrich -- and Perry

They’re not endorsing Romney — yet. Right now they’re down to him, Huntsman, and Santorum as the final three worthy of “serious consideration.” But since the polling for those last two is stuck in single digits combined, you can guess which way the wind’s blowing here.

Ben Domenech tweets, “The editors of @nationalreview stand athwart history, mewling ‘please allow Mitt to pass.'”

Gingrich’s colleagues were, however, right to bring his tenure to an end. His character flaws — his impulsiveness, his grandiosity, his weakness for half-baked (and not especially conservative) ideas — made him a poor Speaker of the House. Again and again he combined incendiary rhetoric with irresolute action, bringing Republicans all the political costs of a hardline position without actually taking one. Again and again he put his own interests above those of the causes he championed in public.

He says, and his defenders say, that time, reflection, and religious conversion have conquered his dark side. If he is the nominee, a campaign that should be about whether the country will continue on the path to social democracy would inevitably become to a large extent a referendum on Gingrich instead. And there is reason to doubt that he has changed. Each week we see the same traits that weakened Republicans from 1995 through 1998: I’d vote for Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform; Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform is radical right-wing social engineering; I apologize for saying that, and no one should quote what I said because I was wrong; actually, what I said was right all along but nobody understood me. I helped defeat Communism; anyone who made money in the ’80s and ’90s owes me; I’m like Reagan and Thatcher. Local community boards should decide what to do with illegal immigrants. Freddie Mac paid me all that money to tell them how stupid they were. Enough. Gingrich has always said he wants to transform the country. He appears unable to transform, or even govern, himself. He should be an adviser to the Republican party, but not again its head.

Gingrich is not the only candidate whom we believe conservatives should, regretfully, exclude from consideration for the presidency. Governor Perry has done an exemplary job in Texas but has seemed curiously and persistently unable to bring gravity to the national stage. Republican presidential candidates have not been known for their off-the-cuff eloquence in recent decades, but conservatism should not choose a standard-bearer who would have to spend much of his time untying his own tongue.

That’s a fine, persuasive argument against Gingrich. Not so persuasive is the idea that we should rule out Perry because he’d supposedly spend “much of his time” as president doing damage control over gaffes. No one seriously believes that, which means the real calculus here is whether his record as governor is sufficiently impressive to warrant bearing the risk of rhetorical error in having him as president. NRO says his record was “exemplary” — in which case, why not assume the risk? And why, oh why, if Gingrich is disqualified for being untrustworthy does Romney somehow make the cut?

This isn’t the only endorsement (or anti-endorsement) from a prominent conservative publication that’s out tonight either. Over at the Examiner, home to Romney critic extraordinaire Philip Klein, they’re endorsing … Mitt Romney. Click and read at least to the part where we’re breezily assured that Mitt “knows he must accommodate to the GOP mainstream, not the other way around.” If you say so, guys. Rather than dwell on that unpleasantness, though, let me throw you a curveball: Second look at … Jeb Bush?

So a writer I follow who lives in New Hampshire just tweeted:

@publicroad: I live in NH & just got a robocall polling me about what I think about Romney vs. Gingrich vs. *Jeb Bush*.

Other folks are reporting the same polling is taking place in New Hampshire.

Other folks are indeed reporting that. Erick Erickson’s heard from three sources about it and the mayor of a town in New Hampshire claimed on Facebook that he was “just phone-surveyed about Jeb Bush for President.” Doesn’t mean that Jeb Bush is behind it — it could very well be (and probably is) an outfit like PPP trying to gauge how the frontrunners would fare in a hypothetical match-up — but times are sufficiently desperate right now that any murmur about a deus ex machina is worth blogging.

Perhaps Hitler has some insight here. Content warning.