Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rough Opening

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) got put out because Newt Gingrich dissed his Medicare plan.

“With allies like that, who needs the left?” Ryan told guest host Raymond Arroyo on conservative talker Laura Ingraham’s radio show.

Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, defended his 2012 budget proposal that includes significant reforms to Medicare.

Gingrich on Sunday distanced himself from Ryan’s plan, which would transform the program into a voucher-based system for Americans under the age of 55.

That was Sunday. Bright and early Monday morning Mr. Gingrich’s office began to walk back his statement, making as dignified a retreat as he possibly could without breaking into a dead run, and in the process backing himself away from a position he’s been advocating for over a decade and as recently as Sunday:

“I am for the repeal of Obamacare and I am against any effort to impose a federal mandate on anyone because it is fundamentally wrong and I believe unconstitutional,” he said in a video posted on his website on Monday and apparently shot this morning outside a Washington, D.C., hotel where Gingrich was addressing an Alzheimer’s convention.

In the early 1990s, Gingrich joined many Republican in backing a health care law featuring an individual mandate as an alternative to President Clinton’s proposal. He supported a similar policy throughout the 2000s in several of his books, echoing President Obama and Mitt Romney in backing an individual mandate buttressed by financial support for those who can’t afford health insurance.

He repeated his support for such a plan yet again on Meet The Press this Sunday after David Gregory played a clip of Newt calling for an individual mandate in 1993.

To be fair, it’s not that he’s against the individual mandate per se; he’s against it now because it’s in President Obama’s healthcare bill. See the difference?

Meanwhile, Mr. Gingrich is denying any racism in his claim that President Obama is the “first food stamp president.” He told Politico that what he said was “factually true.” As Roger Ebert wrote, “More whites than blacks are on food stamps. But that’s not what Newt wanted anyone to think when he called Obama ‘the food stamp President.”

Mr. Gingrich’s campaign is starting off with a jerk — (rimshot) — but I think that may be part of his plan; disorient his opponents by taking so many different and contrary views in such a short time span that no one knows how to come at him.

HT to CLW.