Conservatives Run Away From Gingrich’s Conservatism

This morning, Jonathan Adler, a contributing editor to The National Review Online, asks:

Why is it that hardly anyone — not the media nor the other candidates — directly challenge Gingrich’s claim to have a conservative record?

I’m going to gently suggest to Mr. Adler that the blame lies with his fellow conservatives, who until recently were loath to question Gingrich’s party bona fides.

Here’s Rich Lowry, the Review‘s editor(!), crowning Gingrich “the party’s most important intellectual table-setter.”

And here’s a Gallup survey from 2009, confirming that Lowry’s opinion was widely shared; After Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney, Republican voters chose Gingrich as the “main person who speaks for the Republican Party today.”

I have no dog in this fight — I think Gingrich and Romney are equally, dangerously conservative — but It seems a little odd to question the credentials of the guy who wielded so much power within the party. Maybe conservatives are just embarrassed to have backed a loose cannon for so long?