Gingrich, Noonan argue people expect corruption from Democrats, not GOP

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Both Peggy Noonan and Newt Gingrich claimed that the Abramoff scandal is worse for Republicans because Democrats are expected to be corrupt.

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On the January 4 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox News political contributor and former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich (R-GA) asserted that the Democratic Party's constituency "is, frankly, much more tolerant of corruption." Gingrich argued that the current corruption scandal regarding former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff is "much more dangerous for the Republican Party because we're the natural party of reform."

In her January 5 column on OpinionJournal.com, Wall Street Journal contributing editor Peggy Noonan, a presidential speechwriter during the Reagan and first Bush administrations, made a similar claim, contending that "the public expects the party that loves big government to be pretty good at finagling government, playing with it, using it for its own ends," as opposed to "the anti-big-government party" which "isn't supposed to be so good at it [finagling government]."

From the January 4 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: Do you see a situation at all where this becomes the defining issue of the midterm elections?

GINGRICH: I think there'd have to be an awful lot more revelations. We went through the Abscam scandal in the early 1980s. It wasn't defining. We went through [former House] Speaker [Jim] Wright resigning. That wasn't defining. We went through the post office scandals. That wasn't really defining. You can have a lot these kind of problems and it makes people disgusted with Congress, but by itself, it's not defining. But it's much more dangerous for the Republican Party because we're the natural party of reform. Our base is the working, tax-paying American who doesn't like big government, doesn't particularly like Washington, and doesn't like this kind of behavior. And so, I think, we run a much bigger risk in these kind of scandals than do the Democrats whose base is, frankly, much more tolerant of corruption.

From Peggy Noonan's January 5 OpinionJournal.com column:

There's a lot of talk among Republicans that since the Abramoff scandal involves politicians and staff on both sides of the aisle, the public will not punish the Republicans. This assertion is countered by the argument that while the public will likely see the story as one of government corruption, Congress and the White House are run by Republicans, so Republicans will pay the price. I think this is true, but I think it misses a larger point: In some rough way the public expects the party that loves big government to be pretty good at finagling government, playing with it, using it for its own ends. That's kind of what they do. They love the steamroller, of course they love the grease that makes it run. But the anti-big-government party isn't supposed to be so good at it, so enmeshed in it. The antigovernment party isn't supposed to be so good at oiling the steamroller's parts and pushing its levers. And so happy doing the oiling and pushing.

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