We're not accustomed to complimenting Newt Gingrich, but his statement that he wouldn't vote for Ron Paul for president in a general election is a refreshing departure from the cant and hypocrisy that characterize most political campaigns.
In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, the former speaker of the House gave a one-word answer to whether he would support the libertarian Texas congressman if he were the Republican nominee: "No." Gingrich elaborated on what he considered Paul's unfitness, referring to Paul's "systemic avoidance of reality." He also faulted Paul for not credibly disavowing newsletters published under his name that contained racist and anti-Semitic language.
Arguably, Gingrich's specific attacks on Paul are no more negative than what other Republicans are saying about one another. The still-developing Republican campaign has seen repeated breaches of the so-called 11th Commandment: "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican." But other candidates have savaged Paul, and others, without following through to the logical consequence of such criticism: that the candidates' flaws raise questions about their unsuitability for the presidency, not just the Republican nomination.
Granted, Gingrich hedged about whether he would vote for the incumbent in a Paul-Obama matchup, calling it a hard choice and dismissing the scenario as impossible. Never mind that President Obama's foreign policy is dramatically closer to Gingrich's positions than are Paul's isolationist views. Gingrich should have been clearer about the implications of his rejection of Paul. Someone with Gingrich's opinions would be irresponsible not to choose Obama over Paul.