This is the best part of the most entertaining primary season I remember. The Republicans were so nasty to each other, trying to find ways to climb on top of one another to stand above the muck. Newt Gingrich (before I suspect realized he had to out-crazy the others to win) has a surprisingly intellectual honest response to Paul Ryan's budget back in 2011.
"I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering," Gingrich said. "I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for 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."
"But not what Paul Ryan is suggesting, completely change Medicare?" Gregory wondered.
"I think that is too big a jump. I think you want to have a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options, not one where you suddenly impose upon the -- I'm against Obamacare, which is imposing radical change, and I would be against a conservative imposing radical change," Gingrich replied.
I would quibble with the Newtster that 'Obamacare' is radical, but other than that detail, he has a point.
Then Gingrich learned that being reality-based doesn't play well with the base. And now that the presumptive nominee of his party has full-on embraced the man who wants to dismantle the social safety nets that have protected Americans for generations, Gingrich has to backtrack from any kind of rational thought to defend the indefensible:
"The one thing I objected to back in May 2011," Gingrich told CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes, "was that he eliminated Medicare for everybody. He came back with Ron Wyden. He listened, and one of the things I give Paul a lot of credit for is, he really listens. And he came back with an improved Medicare plan that Ron Wyden [the Democratic senator from Oregon] has co-sponsored and is the only bipartisan reform, by the way... It basically allows people to stay in the current system. He met my only objection."
Gingrich said the only fallout from the plan in senior-heavy states like Pennsylvania and Florida, would come as a result of "plain lies" from President Obama's campaign alleging the proposal would risk their Social Security and Medicare: "The Romney team doesn't touch anybody who's over 55, so it's a non-event," he said. "It's just plain, a lie, to run a campaign trying to scare people who are over 55 about his plan... if you want to keep the current system, you can."
Well, not to put too fine a point on it, Newt, but I'm under 55 and I'm scared out of my mind at the thought of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan getting their greedy little paws on Social Security. I'm in my mid-forties. That's not a lot of time to put together a supplemental retirement plan, is it? Experts say most of us are ill-equipped to invest for our golden years and here are the Randian golden boys looking to remove what little safety nets the 1% haven't already taken from us.
So Newt stuck singing the praises of someone he knows as well as we do has no idea how to govern for the majority of America.