Gingrich Apologizes for Being a Blowhard but Not for Being a Weasel

Yesterday Newt Gingrich apologized to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for calling his Medicare reform plan a "radical change" that amounts to "right-wing social engineering" on national television. "I made a mistake," Gingrich told Fox News last night. "I support what he's trying to do in the budget." And what was the nature of this mistake? "Newt had an inartful phrase in answer to a specific question," says Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler. "I used language that was too strong," Gingrich says. Now he has gone from overstatement to understatement. Here is the full exchange with Meet the Press host David Gregory, which shows that Gingrich's condemnation of the Ryan plan was no mere slip of the tongue:

Gregory: Do you think that Republicans ought to buck the public opposition and really move forward to completely change Medicare, turn it into a voucher program where you give seniors some premium support and—so that they can go out and buy private insurance?

Gingrich: I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering.  I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.  I think we need a national conversation to get to a better Medicare system with more choices for seniors.  But there are specific things you can do.  [Several sentences about rooting out Medicare fraud.]

Gregory: But not what Paul Ryan is suggesting, which is completely changing Medicare.

Gingrich:  I think that that is too big a jump. I think what you want to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options, not one where you suddenly impose upon the—I don't want to—I'm against Obamacare, which is imposing radical change, and I would be against a conservative imposing radical change.

His mind on the presidential race, Gingrich deliberately creates the impression that, unlike that wild-eyed radical Paul Ryan (and the 235 Republican congressmen who voted for his plan), he is against "completely changing Medicare." Yet despite all the talk about the "evolution" of Gingrich's views since he was speaker of the House, his position now is essentially the same as it was in 1995, when he said:

Now let me talk a little bit about Medicare. Let me start at the vision level so you understand how radically different we are and why it's so hard for the press corps to cover us....

What we're trying to do, first of all, is say, OK, here is a government monopoly plan. We're designing a free-market plan. Now, they're very different models. You know, we tell Boris Yeltsin, "Get rid of centralized command bureaucracies. Go to the marketplace."

OK, what do you think the Health Care Financing Administration is? It's a centralized command bureaucracy. It's everything we're telling Boris Yeltsin to get rid of. Now, we don't get rid of it in round one because we don't think that that's politically smart, and we don't think that's the right way to go through a transition. But we believe it's going to wither on the vine because we think people are voluntarily going to leave it.

As Gingrich now concedes, he and Ryan are basically on the same page. The main difference between them is that Gingrich wants to offer retirees a Medicare-like option along with a choice of private insurance plans. Ryan is open to that idea, although he notes that the government-provided coverage can't be as generous as it is now, since that would defeat the attempt to control costs by creating a competitive system in which consumers make decisions based on price. So Gingrich could have responded to Gregory's question by saying 1) Ryan is absolutely correct that Medicare is unsustainable in its current form, 2) his plan moves in the right direction, but 3) I disagree with some of the details. Instead he dodged the ugly fiscal reality by talking about fighting fraud, thereby implying that reform will be painless, and trashed Ryan's plan in terms precisely as strong as he used to bash ObamaCare. The problem is not just that Gingrich "is drawn irresistibly to operatic overstatement," as Rich Lowry says; it's that he's a weasel who is trying to have it both ways, getting credit for saving Medicare without riling anybody who likes the status quo.

Bonus quote from the Fox News interview: "Any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood, because I have said publicly those words were inaccurate and unfortunate."

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  • ||

    Nice headline.

  • ||

    When I read it, I immediately assumed it was a Gillespie post.

  • Newt Gingrich||

    Gingrich "is drawn irresistibly to operatic overstatement"

    No! No!! A thousand times NO!!

  • fish||

    Gingrich "is drawn irresistibly to operatic overstatement"

    Well his handlers might want to let him know that as far as his presidential aspirations are concerned...the fat lady has sung.

  • ||

    Does anyone actually give two shits about Gingrich?

  • fish||

    It would appear that Sullum has given him a thought.

  • proegg antichicken||

    I stand firmly in my position that unless he employs the Newcular option I will continue to ignore the wind from his lips. Newt Gingrich will be lambasted and humiliated time and time again. Newcular Titties will conquer the hearts and minds of America with the fear and love of a thouand exploding suns.

    No doubt, Newt lacks the compunction to become such a terrible and awesome god-president. So we'll have to do with the Obamassiah instead.

  • ||

    Concur with the name change condition precedent.

  • Platypus||

    I have at least 7 Libertarian friends who are Gingrich fans. I don't get it.

  • ||

    He stood up in the darkest days of 1993 and spoke the truth about corruption in the house of representatives and about economic truths.

    There is no question that Newt at one time earned his conservative/libertarinish wings.
    Many libertarians come from the left and as such when Newt was around hated him...then later as they became libertarians retained that hate because as time passed newt became less and less libertarianish...giving the appearance to lefty transitioning to a libertard that Newt has always been a statist fuck.

    Anyway this is just a theory.

    My guess is your 7 buddies all came to be libertarians because they started out as conservatives while you are a left to libertarian convert.

  • KPres||

    Newt Gingrich has never been libertarianish. Really, never. He's a fiscal conservative because he's a conservative, but he's never even been lukewarm on drugs or civil rights.

    That said, he's not as contemptable as a lot of other conservatives because a) he's an intellectual and b) he isn't overly religious. That, plus his own personal history (which, really, I don't have a problem with), keeps him relatively quiet on social issues.

  • ||

    but he's never even been lukewarm on drugs or civil rights.

    "Economically libertarianish" then.

    That make you happy?

  • Fluffy||

    I was very pro-Newt back in the day.

    I particularly liked him before he was Speaker, when he would hijack the CSPAN cameras late at night and talk smack.

    I despise him now. He transformed himself into everything wrong with the GOP and spat on and betrayed everything he claimed to stand for in the 90's.

  • ||

    Hard to tell.

    The fact that every conservative on the planet is talking about it would imply yes..

    Now why conservatives give two shits about him is what befuddles me.

    I am beginning to think when it comes to political ideals conservatives really are pretty shallow...and are simply, well, conservatives in the cultural sense. They worry more about bad table manners then about actual poltical rigor.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    No, no, no, Newt is an operatic weasel, that's all. A dude who can sing "Finch'han dal vino" while crawling up a drain pipe is not to be underestimated.

  • OO||

    newt was correct...before he was incorrect. after getting lambasted in their own townhalls over medicare, the gop is running, running for the tall grass.

  • Fluffy||

    The funny thing here is that his statements on Medicare actually bury the lede of what's truly wrong with his comments:

    He admits up front that he opposes change even if that change is from the right.

    The problem is that many leftist programs have been around long enough now that it would be "right wing social engineering" to change just about any of them.

    The National Endowment for the Arts has been around a long time, and it is thoroughly integrated into the cultural fabric of the US. Getting rid of it would certainly be a radical change, in the world of its area of focus. So I guess Newt would oppose getting rid of the NEA, too?

    Federal involvement in local education is now over 40 years old. Eliminating it would create radical change in every school district in the country. Can we now assume that Newt would oppose as "radical right-wing social engineering" anything that altered federal involvement in local education?

  • proegg antichicken||

    I think he's pulling for the "power to the status quo" vote then. Everything is fucked but if we try to social engineer it better we're just gonna fuck it up worse. That's tough to campaign on.

    I don't think there's gonna be a candidate in this round that I like. I'll just sit back, sip the haterade, and watch Ron Paul troll the holy hell out of the GOP.

  • T||

    I don't think there's gonna be a candidate in this round that I like. I'll just sit back, sip the haterade, and watch Ron Paul troll the holy hell out of the GOP.

    QFMFT. But I'll be sipping something with a little more punch.

  • Jamarcus Russell||

    Purple Drank FTW bitchez

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    I hate you for what you did to the Raiders.

  • ||

    My problem with that line of thinking is that I kind of feel I should be trying to find the most libertarian candidate that can get elected. A corollary to the Buckley rule. Otherwise, we'll end up with BHO again, and I'm not sure my heart can take it. His obsequiousness leaves Newt far behind. I guess I could just stop paying attention to the news.

  • proegg antichicken||

    Well, I am voting for either Paul or Johnson, very much decidedly. But once the actual election rolls around I'm likely to end up voting "no confidence".

    Ron Paul is the only candidate I'ver ever given to. I feel like I'm donating to a public defense of liberty. It's really all I can do.

  • ||

    "Any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood, because I have said publicly those words were inaccurate and unfortunate."

    What if said ad is "not intended to be a factual statement"?

  • ChrisO||

    Gingrich is nothing if not entertaining.

  • kiddclass||

    I haven't seen anybody mention the fact that Newt is probably still shell-shocked from the beating he took in the clinton years for his "let medicare wither on the vine" comments. I think he's going to be forever scared shitless about entitlements.

  • proegg antichicken||

    Good point. The "cut spending but not my entitlements!" cry is getting nauseating. We likely won't see a candidate seriously consider this for another decade or so when the shit really does hit the fan.

  • Jim||

    He's afraid that if he reforms any entitlements, his 127 bastards will suddenly show up at his door demanding food money.

  • ||

    Maybe some of them can join the Black on the Wall in the Night's Watch.

  • ||

    The Sons Of The Newt will give those maple-sucking puck-slappers all the dragonglass they can stand.

  • Jim||

    "The Sons of Newt" sounds like a good name for, 1) a band, and 2) a mercenary band in a fantasy book. Perhaps A Dance With Dragons will introduce these doughty warriors.

  • WTF||

    Perhaps A Dance With Dragons will introduce these doughty warriors.

    Nah, they are too easily vanquished by the forces of Duke Charles, Hammer of the Krauts.

  • Jim||

    First chuckle of the day, thank you.

  • ||

    Carolus Martellus?

  • WTF||

    Need something about the Krauts - Carolus Martellus Germanicus maybe?

  • ||

    I've oft postulated a Star Trek series where an entire ship is crewed by the multi-racial bastard offspring of Kirk.

  • ||

    You mean multi-special, don't you?

  • ||

    No, I mean Kirk got it on with dozens and dozens of hot alien babes. Rowr.

  • Jim||

    "Not everyone keeps their genitals in the same place".

  • ||

    Multi-species-ial.

  • Some Call Me. . .Tim||

    Do it HBO style with full frontal and lots of grinding and groaning.

  • ||

    Say, that's an idea. A not-stupid-reboot version of Star Trek as an HBO series. I'd say set in the times of TOS but not set on the Enterprise.

  • ||

    It is said that the Canadians beyond the Wall ride SkiDoos and drive those who have died waiting for socialized medical care before them as zombified soldiers. Mance McRaydar is known for his Kraft Dinner as well.

  • Jim||

    "You know nothing, Maria Lemieux."

  • Jim||

    Er, Mario Lemieux. Wow, that's a bad typo.

  • ||

    That reminds me of the Jim Everett/Chris Evert bit.

    Rome is an asshole, by the way.

  • ||

    Only superzombification can explain French Canadians. Evidence: The Hockey Sweater.

    Also, Ygritte was one of my favs. I am convinced that Martin hates love. Anyone in a happy (or even basically fuctional) relationship is doomed.

  • Jim||

    He did finally marry his long-time companion just a few months ago, after spending decades together, so maybe you have something there.

    FYI from the pics posted on his website, his friends are all large, unattractive nerds. Good to see that he didn't "sell out", because I have to believe these are the friends he's had for a long time.

  • ||

    There is internet buzz that ultra-favorite among the virgin-nerd set, Felicia Day, is being considered for Ygritte, but I don't see her doing the nudity the role requires.

  • Jim||

    Saw her in a sci-fi channel werewolf movie. She was pretty bad.

    Also, we named our boxer Codex in her honor. It was down to that, or Ripley.

  • ||

    I Googled her and couldn't figure out where I knew her from, until I saw she was in Dr. Horrible! She was cute in that, even if she is a bit old to play Ygritte. (I know, I know, everyone is older on the show than they were in GoT.)

  • Brett L||

    The Night's Watch are the best and worst of that series. I love the characters, but it stretches my suspension of disbelief to the breaking point.

  • ||

    Dragons are cool, but monsters made out of snow are nonsensical?

  • ||

    What is stretching your belief?

  • Brett L||

    Well, the fact that 500 rapists, cowards, and bastards held the Wall for about 20 days. The Others are actually the most comfortable part. Evil wights of winter I'm good with. The fact that all of the people who didn't mutiny are badasses, not so much. And Jim's comments below.

  • Brett L||

    I mean, attacking the Wall where the people are seems like a bad idea, especially coming from an ex-Ranger of the Night Watch.

  • Jim||

    That's where the big gate was. They couldn't all scale it, and otherwise, they'd have to take a long journey to the edge, and go across the Bay of Seals or whatever, and with you-know-who lurking in the woods, they had no confidence of making that journey.

    They thought it was attack now and get through, or get massacred in the woods on the way to the sea, trying to feed that host they had gathered all the while.

  • Jim||

    The Night's Watch is great, except for the short-sighted thought that we should massacre the wildlings instead of, oh, I don't know...letting them in on the condition that they help to fight the others? I mean, at the time, Jon didn't know that Stannis was going to show up with an army ready-to-use, just add water.

  • ||

    Massive Spoilers Ahoy!

    But Mance didn't try that tack until after Jon and a bunch of scrubs held off his entire army for weeks. He went to battle with a switchblade and a mutli-megaton nuke which he didn't want to use in the first place.

    And there was no solid evidence of The Others until after The Fist. And no one believed the only survivors. The reanimated dead were never a danger to The Wall--too slow, too clumsy. There was no reason to consider adding wildlings, giants and cannibals to The Wall defense.

    And considering that The Others returning is all Mance's fault in the first place...

  • T||

    I guess I'm gonna have to find a good synopsis of the past books before Dance with Dragons drops. I don't remember half of that shit.

  • ||

    To be fair... I did just finish reading Storm of Swords for the 2nd time last Saturday.

  • T||

    I barely have time to read books these days, much less reread them. It took me a month to plow through The Crippled God.

  • Jim||

    Eh, I think Jon and the Maester knew or heavily suspected that the Others were returning. I mean, one usually doesn't just shake off the appearance of super zombies as isolated phenomena.

  • ||

    I agree, but with the massacre at The Fist, the entire Castle Black command structure was gone, and none of the likely candidates to be Lord Commander were there when Jon got back, and when Throne and Slynt do show up they consider Jon and traitor and Aemon a doddering fool. It's not that The Other's return wasn't known, it wasn't believed until after Stannis-ex-machina made it irrelevant.

    The flaw of The Night's Watch is that its mission drifted from protecting the Seven Kingdoms from The Others and instead became about border control against The Wildings. They had even forgotten about dragonglass.

  • Jim||

    I know that's their flaw in-universe, I'm talking about what I consider to be illogical actions taken at the time. I suppose I can understand that since Jon wasn't Lord Commander yet, he wasn't qualified to make that decision, and would have been hung as a traitor if he'd made a deal with the wildlings.

    He should have let his chick in though; sounds like she was insatiable in the sack.

  • Brett L||

    IDK. Having also recent finished the 4th book, I fear this thing is turning into the Ask-a-Ninja review of "Pirates of the Carribean 2" -- you know, "its like someone loaded a bunch of plotlines into a shotgun and picked up the parts at random. And then lost that."

  • ||

    DoD better be really good after slogging through FfC. If not, I'm done with the series.

  • ||

    I am not finding FfC to be that much of a slog. Lots of new characters, but I expected that, given how frequently he kills characters off.

  • ||

    I have a long rant for you after you finish it.

  • ||

    There is little I enjoy more than a good rant. I will let you know when you can commence.

  • RyanXXX||

    I'm wondering how the HBO series is gonna handle the Others. Sooner or later people who haven't read the books are gonna start wondering "what happened to those creepy things at the beginning of the first episode"??

    I wonder if zombies and wildlings and cryptic hints will be enough to keep the Wall interesting for 4-5 season

  • Jim||

    They're certainly not shy about including sex, so I think once Jon starts plowing Ygritte, we'll be set for awhile.

  • ||

    RyanXXX,

    Yeah, I wonder about that as well, especially since we don't "see" another Other until who-know-who does you-know-what with the you-know-what.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Say what?
    Fuck y'all. I'm going to start posting in Esperanto.
    Fek' a vi cxiuj!

  • Some Call Me. . .Tim||

    The Watch is just another out of control, never ending government program. 8,000 years of funding and Frosty the snowman has yet to kick anyone's ass.

  • Some Call Me. . .Tim||

    Shit I miss all the fun stuff. Shit.

  • Ordinary American||

    Newt? Gingrich?

    What a disgusting name. He must be mean. I guess I'll stick with the Muslim guy who's all hopey.

  • ||

    Even ordinary Americans support the recommended name change.

  • Newt Gingrich ||

    Don't try to be a great man; just be a man, and let history make its own judgement.

  • fish||

    Great...now you're standing athwart Star Trek.

  • Bill Clinton||

    I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her, marooned for all eternity at the center of a dead planet...BURIED ALIVE!

  • ||

    The revolution is successful. But survival depends on drastic measures. Your continued existence represents a threat to the well-being of society. Your lives mean slow death to the more valued members of the colony. Therefore, I have no alternative but to sentence you to death. Your execution is so ordered, signed Kodos, Governor of Tarsus IV.

  • ||

    Or it can be signed "Newcular Titties, President."

  • fish||

    Don't blame me I voted for Kang!

  • ||

    If Kodos was the executioner, what was Kang?

  • Max||

    Forget Gingrich, how is the conspiracy nut with the history of publishing racist and homophobic diatribes doing?

  • ||

    So Paul is a conspiracy nut for having connections with the birchers...

    What does that make Obama with his connections to Wright and Ayers?

    Max do you fantasize about being the left wing's Glen Beck?

  • Max||

    So you recognized who I was taling about right away!

  • ||

    Yes Max your posts are very predictable.

    You are a consistent Moon Bat I will give you that.

  • PIRS||

    Max, My next donation to the Reason Foundation will be made in your honor. So will my next donation to the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

  • Max||

    Good. Giving money to them is like masterbating into a spittoon--nothing will come of it.

  • fish||

    I have long considered giving to a foundation that promotes childhood literacy.....perhaps someday you will learn how to spell "masturbate".

  • PIRS||

    Max,

    We all know your life would be empty and meaningless without Reason's Hit & Run. This is why you keep comming [or given the content of your last post perhaps I should say cumming] back here even though you claim to hate it. Perhaps you are a masochist and are into BDSM?

  • Max||

    Fuck that! I'm done posting here you libertardian losers.

  • Max has made his last post||

    Max|6.24.10 @ 3:29PM|#

    Go suck ron puals dick, morons. You peeple are fucking retarded. I`m done coming to this wingnut sight. this is my last post.

  • Platypus||

    It's an obsession with you, isn't it?
    Seek help.

  • Max||

    Go fuck yourself.

  • Platypus||

    No.

  • Max has made his last post.||

    Max|6.24.10 @ 3:29PM|#

    Go suck ron puals dick, morons. You peeple are fucking retarded. I`m done coming to this wingnut sight. this is my last post.

  • fish||

    He's gonna lose...but his ideas are gaining traction! You don't really think he wants to win do you?

    Max you silly old Yorkie!

  • Max||

    Which ideas? The racist, homophobic diatribes? The war on Christmas shit?

  • proegg antichicken||

    Yeah those ones. Don't be stupid, though that is like asking water not to be wet.

  • fish||

    The government is running out of money one seems to be popular right now. We are devolving into a hopey changey police state too! I could go on if you like.

  • PIRS||

    [Citation needed]

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    Max, where did Ron Paul touch you? Remember, no one has a right to touch you in your bathing-suit area.

  • WTF||

    Remember, no one has a right to touch you in your bathing-suit area.

    Except of course the TSA.

  • ||

    Why haven't Republicans thrown this guy under the bus for being a traitor?

    Republicans seem to have no problem with turning on their own over issues like gay sex and Argentina mistresses...why are they so forgiving when one of their own jumps ship politically?

    Newt is the same guy who said the era of Reagan is over.

  • fish||

    Why haven't Republicans thrown this guy under the bus for being a traitor?

    Why bother? They know he isn't going to win...why waste resources or time on him?

  • NoVAHockey||

    "Why haven't Republicans thrown this guy under the bus for being a traitor"

    They could use that Medicare Rx bus that went on tour to promote Part D. They could get aerial footage from the Medicare blimp.

  • fish||

    update: Yeah, when Charles Schumer is praising you publicly on your policy positions you might as well bail now!

  • Colin||

    Gregory turned him into a newt, and he didn't get better.

  • L4F||

    Gingrich is an idiot, "right-wing social engineering" is a lot better than its leftwing variety. What is the right gonna do? Get rid of the programs? Go ahead! As far as I'm concerned, Paul Ryan is a friend of freedom.

    http://libertarians4freedom.blogspot.com/

  • ||

    Wow, awesome perspective. Do you have a blog or something where I can learn more?

  • ||

    ...and maybe how to navigate threaded comments too?

  • Almanian||

    Your ideas intrigue me, and I am interested in subscribing to your newsletter.

  • colin||

    this man is completely senile.

  • Res Publica Americana||

    Do you guys think Ron Paul would fight Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security and get the NFA and GCA and FOPA repealed?

  • ||

    I think Paul's answer to that would be that he's not running for king or supreme overlord (unlike the other contenders) but that he would fight within the abilities that his office allows.

    At least, that's what my answer would be.

  • Res Publica Americana||

    That's why I said "get repealed", not "repeal" - I hate when people unwittingly impart authority unto executives that they do not have.

  • Max||

    To date Ron Paul's great achievement is spawning his idiot son Rand Paul.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    He also provides uninteresting trolls with an endless supply of uninteresting things to say.

  • Res Publica Americana||

    Your father's greatest achievement could have been wearing a good-quality condom that night.

  • Almanian||

    The title is teh awsum.

    What a shithead Newtonian Gangrene is. If he changed his name to Newcular Titties, I promise I would despise him less.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    "I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering."

    +

    "I think what you want to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes"

    =

    "Instead of social engineering we should use social engineering"

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Caption contest:

    "Dis mai I'm sorreh face"

  • Res Publica Americana||

    "Well, you might be on to something there, pumpkin - I truly am full of shit." *SOB*

  • fish||

    He's doing the anti Sally Fields...."You don't like me...you really don't like me"!

  • Max||

    Gringrich, fat unapealling fuck that he is, is infintely more electable that Ron Paul, which still makes him unelectable. Ron Paul's links to the kooky Birch Society and his long history of publishing racist garbage discredits him and the stupid libertoid assholes who support him.

  • ChrisO||

    I guess Max really likes hanging out with "stupid libertoid assholes," based on his posting volume here at H&R. Internet masochism?

  • Max||

    Fuck off Max! I'm done posting here forever because of assholes like Max.

  • Earlier upthread ...||

    PIRS|5.18.11 @ 3:31PM|#
    Max,

    We all know your life would be empty and meaningless without Reason's Hit & Run. This is why you keep comming [or given the content of your last post perhaps I should say cumming] back here even though you claim to hate it. Perhaps you are a masochist and are into BDSM?

    reply to this
    Max|5.18.11 @ 3:39PM|#
    Fuck that! I'm done posting here you libertardian losers.

  • ChrisO||

    Gingrich is busy testing the theory that there's no such thing as bad publicity on the campaign trail. I expect the love child revelations to follow shortly.

  • Skip||

    Gingrich could become Obama's official ball washer and libtards wouldn't hate him one iota less, so I don't see why he is trying to appeal to them.

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