Gingrich of Freddie Mac

Mr. Gingrich added in that interview that there are times “when you need government to help spur private enterprise and economic development.” He cited electricity and telephone network expansion. “It’s not a point of view libertarians would embrace, but I am more in the Alexander Hamilton-Teddy Roosevelt tradition of conservatism,” he said, adding “I’m convinced that if NASA were a GSE, we probably would be on Mars today.”

Where to begin? One problem is the lack of candor. In Thursday’s Sioux City debate, Mr. Gingrich repeated his claim that he had never done a favor for Fan and Fred. But as Speaker in 1995, according to news reports at the time, Mr. Gingrich helped to kill an effort by then House Budget Chairman John Kasich to impose user fees on Fannie and Freddie. The fees were intended to offset the cost advantage provided to the companies by their implicit government guarantee.

Mr. Gingrich also knows that many Republicans were fighting against furious opposition, and at great political risk, to reform Fan and Fred in the early and mid-2000s. The heroes included then Congressman Richard Baker, Senator Richard Shelby and Bush White House aide Kevin Warsh. We were at the barricades too, and Mr. Gingrich was never seen in the rear of the reform camp, much less on the front lines. The Georgian could only have been on the payroll because Freddie thought he could help influence other Republicans against reform.