Having been out of pocket for a couple days, I missed a lot of the excitement which transpired over the weekend. Prior to the weekend, of course, we witnessed Mitt Romney’s self-destruction in Ann Arbor, aptly described by Jonah Goldberg as a "sincere, intelligent, cogent, informed political disaster". And Goldberg’s review was one of the more generous. This was followed on Saturday by Mike Huckabee’s announcement that he wasn’t running. Then, yesterday, Newt Gingrich essentially pulled a Mitt Romney and committed hari kari on Meet The Press when he effectively defended Obamacare by touting the concept of the individual mandate central to Obama’s government takeover of the health care sector. Oh, and for good measure, Gingrich demagogued Paul Ryan’s rational and credible Medicare plan as radical "right-wing social engineering" or something. I miss everything. Fortunately, National Review’s Andrew Stiles didn’t and he has the details on Newt’s meltdown, first with regard to Medicare:
Newt Gingrich’s appearance on “Meet the Press” today could leave some wondering which party’s nomination he is running for. The former speaker had some harsh words for Paul Ryan’s (and by extension, nearly every House Republican’s) plan to reform Medicare, calling it “radical.”
“I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering,” he said when asked about Ryan’s plan to transition to a “premium support” model for Medicare. “I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.”
As far as an alternative, Gingrich trotted out the same appeal employed by Obama/Reid/Pelosi — for a “national conversation” on how to “improve” Medicare, and promised to eliminate ‘waste, fraud and abuse,’ etc.
Ah yes, the infamous "national conversation" and "waste, fraud, and abuse" rhetoric to which one resorts when he or she has made the calculation that pandering is preferable to an actual plan. Newt then goes on to back Obamacare’s individual mandate while, naturally, claiming to be against Obamacare.
He even went so far as to compare it the Obama health-care plan.”I’m against Obamacare, which is imposing radical change, and I would be against a conservative imposing radical change.”
In another surprising move, Gingrich also reiterated his previous support for a “variation of the individual mandate” for health care. “I believe all of us — and this is going to be a big debate — I believe all of us have a responsibility to help pay for health care,” he said, insisting there is “a way to do it that make most libertarians relatively happy.”
This footling nonsense is simply inexplicable, and is illustrative of why Newt will never be President. Allahpundit at Hot Air struggles to make sense of it all:
I’ve already written about my mystification at his comments, but Philip Klein adds a good point to deepen the mystery: Why would a guy like Newt whose brand has always been about Big Bold Solutions criticize Ryan for offering … a big bold solution? (Especially one which Newt himself once seemed to support.) His best argument against the rest of the field was that he’s always been willing to consider radical policy alternatives that more timid conservatives wouldn’t; now Ryan comes along trying to solve the entitlements crisis and suddenly Gingrich goes cold. What exactly is the argument for his candidacy, then? That he’s willing to confront the tough problems that others won’t — except for the one that’s driving the country to fiscal ruin?
Valid questions all. Leaving aside Newt’s myriad personal baggage, why would anyone consider voting for him as a conservative alternative to, well, anyone at all? Let’s not forget that this is the same guy who proclaimed "the era of Reagan is over" in 2008. Earlier this year, in a transparent attempt to pander to Iowa farmers, Newt "Professor Cornpone" Gingrich defended ethanol subsidies, hardly a conservative position. And no discussion of Newt’s buffoonery is complete without the following two words: Dede Scozzafava. Today on his radio show, Rush Limbaugh commented on Newt’s ill-conceived comments:
Paul Ryan responded to Newt today on the Laura Ingraham show with the following pertinent question via Gateway Pundit: “With allies like that, who needs the left?”
Given everything that’s happened in the past few days, it’s important to put things into proper perspective with regard to the Republican primaries. There are some on our side who’ve been critical of Governor Palin’s decision to delay making an announcement on whether or not she’s running in 2012. We all, of course, hope she runs. But that being said, I personally don’t believe that I’m qualified to tell her how to go about it. She’s been there and done that many times, and with remarkable success. I trust her political instincts. I disagree with the premise that by waiting, she’s following a flawed strategy.
Indeed from where I sit, it’s working pretty well. Newt and Mittens are collapsing before our eyes without any help from her. Huck and Trump are out. If Daniels and Huntsman get in (let’s hope they do), those two, along with T-Paw and Mitt will be fighting over a dwindling amount of moderate votes in the GOP primaries…not exactly a winning strategy. Bachmann is, at best, a junior varsity player and she simply doesn’t wear very well. Moreover, she has taken some decidedly non-conservative positions and has near zero actual accomplishments. Bachmann’s record will be discussed in an upcoming post by Stacy. That leaves…who? Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, and Herman Cain? Enough said. What’s the rush? By sitting back, following Reagan’s 11th commandment, and watching the others self-destruct, she’s doing just fine. That door about which she has spoken is slowly but inexorably swinging open. Relax everyone; she knows what she’s doing. We don’t.
Update: (h/t Jack) Mark Levin grilled Newt today on his radio show today. The Right Scoop has the audio here.