The looney line of attack

My standards have fallen so far that I’m almost impressed when Mitt Romney attacks Newt Gingrich, and the criticisms (a) aren’t breathtakingly hypocritical; and (b) are grounded in fact.

Here’s the former governor yesterday, talking to the editorial board of the Des Moines Register (apparently after having read David Brooks’ column).

For those who can’t watch clips, here’s what Romney said, differentiating himself from Gingrich:

“I disagree with the Speaker thinking we should eliminate some parts of child labor laws so that kids could clean schools. I don’t think that’s a great idea.

“I saw the Speaker had a measure that I read about that was to put a permanent colony on the moon to mine rare materials from the moon. I think we’ve got some other priorities for our spending before we do that. He even talked about a series of mirrors that we could put in space that would light our highways at night. I’ve got some better ideas for our resources.”

After some brutally-dishonest attacks from Team Romney of late, I like this new line of attack because it’s true. Gingrich actually said all of those things and more.

It opens up a new line of attack, which, unlike the others, seems entirely fair: Romney wants folks to think Gingrich is just looney.

This is a deep well that Romney can return to over and over again. Gingrich’s “big ideas” include giving laptops to the homeless, shooting North Korea with lasers, and touting the benefits of old-school orphanages for children.

Gingrich will likely defend himself against this by saying he was just spit-balling, throwing around off-the-wall ideas, not because he intends to seriously pursue them, but because his pseudo-intellectualism demands it.

I’m not sure whether Romney’s tack will work or not — Republican primary voters are a pretty nutty bunch, who may think Gingrich’s outside-the-box thinking sounds sensible — but given the usual dishonesty coming out of Romney and his team, it’s nice to at least see an argument grounded in reality.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation