Yes, there's a lot we don't understand about the GOP

Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich take part in Monday's debate in Tampa, Florida.

Story highlights

  • James Carville, Paul Begala: Ari Fleischer is right that we don't really understand the GOP
  • But they say the prospect of Gingrich as the GOP candidate scares many Republicans
  • Authors: Many major Republican figures say Gingrich is unsuited to be president
  • They say Gingrich won't get the Republican nomination
Our esteemed CNN colleague Ari Fleischer says we don't understand Republicans.
Guilty.
We raise our children by the golden rule, and don't understand Republicans who boo it.
We salute gay soldiers and don't understand Republicans who boo them.
James Carville
We hear about someone who's sick and lacks health insurance, and we pray, "Let him live," and don't understand Republicans who yell, "Let him die!"
We are proud to have helped President Clinton, whose policies balanced the budget, created 23 million jobs and lifted millions out of poverty, and we don't understand Republicans who inherited those blessings and gave us three wars, three tax cuts for the rich and a massive deficit. Indeed, we owe Mr. Fleischer's Republican Party and the Republican president he served a debt we can never repay.
So Ari is right, we just don't understand Republicans, and while it is not our standard posture, we approach the GOP primary race with a bit of humility -- ever mindful of the Democrats in the '70s who, as Ari himself noted in his op-ed, said they were hoping to run against Ronald Reagan.
Paul Begala
Still, we do not back off an inch from our analysis that Republican elites are panic-stricken by the prospect of Newt Gingrich being their nominee. And we draw this conclusion from listening to people who understand the GOP far better than we:
Former Rep. Susan Molinari, who served with Gingrich in the House, has made an ad for Mitt Romney in which she rips her former colleague for "leadership by chaos." Molinari knows Newt well, as she was the keynote speaker at the 1996 Republican convention. Surely, she must know something about the Republican Party. When asked whether she would support Gingrich if he defeated her candidate for the nomination, she demurred, saying, "It would be very difficult for me to support Newt Gingrich for president."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie presumably understands the GOP. A strong Romney supporter, Christie has excoriated Gingrich. "He was run out of the speakership by his own party," said Christie. "This is a guy who has had a very difficult political career at times and has been an embarrassment to the party."
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Jim Talent, former senator from Missouri and another former Gingrich colleague, also supports Romney, and attacks Newt lustily. "He is not a reliable and trustworthy conservative," Talent says, "because he is not a reliable and trustworthy leader." Ouch.
Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, who worked closely with Gingrich when Newt was a top GOP leader in the House, has also thrown in his lot with Romney -- and has also volunteered to swing the hatchet. Sununu basically called Newt nuts, telling CNN, "You can't have somebody that's really as irrational and perceives himself as Winston Churchill or the equivalent of Margaret Thatcher or Charles de Gaulle."
Ari's White House colleague during the Bush years and current CNN colleague, David Frum, wrote Monday, "Over a political career of nearly 40 years, Gingrich has convinced almost everybody who has ever worked closely with him that he cannot and should not be trusted with executive power."
And if we may engage in speculation, then we would say that the closer you are to Gingrich, the more likely you are to be a Republican and the less likely you are to vote for him. Just recently, columnist George Will wrote in The Washington Post, "Gingrich, however, embodies the vanity and rapacity that make modern Washington repulsive."
The aforementioned statements, plus the inevitable onslaught of other facts that will continue to come out, make the possibility of Gingrich being nominated literally nonexistent. His character flaws, in our opinion, are the reasons he is unelectable as president of the United States.
And when some of the most prominent, powerful and popular Republicans in America are saying Gingrich is unstable, unelectable and unreliable, that's panic. That's not just saying you disagree with him on, say, immigration or taxes. This is full-on, run-for-your-life terror. And we couldn't be happier to be commenting on it. That's something we are sure Ari does understand.
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