Political Animal


May 17, 2011 9:20 AM Gingrich struggles badly with House GOP budget

By Steve Benen

Two weeks ago, Newt Gingrich endorsed the House Republican budget plan, including provisions to end Medicare. Over the weekend, he reversed course, calling the Paul Ryan agenda “radical change” and “too big a jump” for Americans. A day later, he reversed course again, saying the media misunderstood and there’s actually “little daylight between Ryan and Gingrich.”

And then Gingrich reversed course once more, telling the Wall Street Journal the Ryan plan is the wrong way to go.

In an interview with us yesterday, Mr. Gingrich conceded that he “probably used too strong language” on TV but that “I have thought about this for a long time and I am very, very worried.”

He explained that he was trying to articulate “a political strategy for long-term, sustainable change” and that Mr. Ryan ought to have focused on “incentives rather than punishments” and “the right to choose versus being forced to choose.” He added that “I think it would be politically catastrophic to pass the bill in its current form” at a moment when conservatives have an opportunity “to break the left for the first time since 1932.”

For those keeping score, that’s four positions on the issue in two weeks, and three positions in two days.

As it turns out, the right isn’t especially impressed by Gingrich’s antics. Trying to explain his bizarre comments, Rush Limbaugh said of Gingrich, “I’m as befuddled as anyone else.” Charles Krauthammer added, “This is a big deal. He’s done. He didn’t have a big chance from the beginning, but now it’s over.”

Remember, all of this is unfolding just a few days after the disgraced former House Speaker launched his campaign.

This guy’s chances of being elected president next year are about as good as mine.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • c u n d gulag on May 17, 2011 9:27 AM:

    Maybe Newt's just trying to come close to Mitt's flip-flop record?

    He'll need to work harder.

    Mitt's covered everything from A to Z, and is currently working on zero to infinity.

    PS: Steve, I would vote for you in a NY nano-second.

    PSS: Just don't run with CATCHA on the ticket, or all bets are off.

  • slappy magoo on May 17, 2011 9:35 AM:

    Wild changes of opinion and mood...
    Big fat and white...
    My God...
    Newt's the legendary mythical, long-sought-to-be-extinct bi-polar bear!

  • Lolly on May 17, 2011 9:36 AM:

    Well, you gotta feel for these guys. We're seeing the essential rottenness at the core of their "movement."

    Their ideas stink, and no one but their hardcore base would want to be associated with them, but the hardcore base insists on purity. I believe it's called a "double-bind," where you are required/expected to do or say two things that are mutually contradictory.

  • Athena on May 17, 2011 9:38 AM:

    slappy magoo - LOL! That's great!

  • eric on May 17, 2011 9:41 AM:

    Yes, but they need him out by the debates or he will clean all of their clocks. Truth is a non-participant at a GOP debate and there is no one in the field as good as Newt on his feet SOUNDING like he knows what he is talking about. That has been his schtick for years. They are all going to lie and distort the truth so his mendacity will not shine next to Mitt or Pawlenty -- all of those guys have flipped and flopped. They are very scared of what he can do to the GOP message when he gets to the debates. None of the others can really think on their feet and since they have no core values, they can be led easily from their desired message.

  • Ron Byers on May 17, 2011 9:41 AM:

    The interesting thing about Newt and his meltdown is that he is what passes for a thinker in the Republican party. You would have thought he would have thought about his answer before talking to anybody.

    Right now there is no room in the Republican party for anyone who has ideas. Too bad for Newt, he has about 10 ideas a day, eight of them are mutually exclusive, but he has about ten a day.

  • SW on May 17, 2011 9:47 AM:

    Well, the Kraut is half right. You see this issue is like a dumbell. The Gnewt is on one end of the dumbell and the House Republicans are on the other end of it. They are tumbling through space. Locked in a gravitational embrace of stupidity. The Kraut is sort of right. He is done. But so is the other end of the dumbell.

  • SkJL on May 17, 2011 9:51 AM:

    I think Newt was perfectly willing to throw the House GOP under the bus to gain favor among older voters who oppose ending Medicare. It won't work of course, but can't fault the man for trying. LOL!

  • scott_m on May 17, 2011 9:51 AM:

    "This guy’s chances of being elected president next year are about as good as mine."

    Heck, Steve-- I'd vote for you. I do wish you'd wait until 2016, though.

  • SadOldVet on May 17, 2011 9:53 AM:

    This guy’s chances of being elected president next year are about as good as mine.

    This may be true, but I would be one hell of a lot more likely to vote for Benen than the Newted Gingrich!

    But then again, I respect Steve Benen and I consider Newt to be an obnoxious, pretentious core piece of the repuknican money grubbing machine!

  • John R AKA Mr. Serf Man on May 17, 2011 9:53 AM:

    Talk Like Newt:
    Here’s how. First, select five numbers, randomly, each between one and five. Then, for each number, pick the corresponding word from each of the five columns below.

    For example, selecting the numbers 3, 2, 2, 5, and 1, reveals a heretofore unknown, dastardly threat to be: A Depraved, Godless, Communist, Bi-sexual Conspiracy.











    Master plan










    Plot against America






    Now, string the words together, while speaking each one slowly, in a frightening and menacing voice.

    Presto!!! You too are now talking like a Newt, identifying new threats and thereby helping him to keep America safe.

  • chi res on May 17, 2011 9:54 AM:

    dumbell...gravitational embrace of stupidity

    Wasn't that a Dr. Who episode?

    Thanks Steve, but we're all set for 2012. You might start planning for 2016 though.

  • FRP on May 17, 2011 9:57 AM:

    Good one slappy magoo -
    The Lord of the Flies , sir Gingrich , has many a conch between his mighty lips . Woe can say , but has chosen Ryan , and the Lord of the Flies to do so .

  • PhillyCooke on May 17, 2011 10:02 AM:

    OK, you've convinced me. I'm in for the "Draft Steve Benen to run for President" committee.

  • ComradeAnon on May 17, 2011 10:04 AM:

    I still dont think Newt is really running for the office. This is just another fundraiser. Like Trump, except his was ratings for his show. Exactly like Lawrence O'Donnell predicted.

  • Peter G on May 17, 2011 10:05 AM:

    Newt seems to have become a random slogan generator. He's putting out memes on all frequencies. If it isn't Southern strategy dog whistles about food stamps he's cribbing the language of environmentalism with phrases like "long term, sustainable change". What is that supposed to even mean? Political change that goes on forever? Change that can't be reversed? It's verbal nonsense.

  • zeitgeist on May 17, 2011 10:11 AM:

    Newt Gingrich: the Top Chef of word salad.

  • berttheclock on May 17, 2011 10:25 AM:

    What would anyone expect from someone such as Newt who wrote his PHD Dissertation on the wonders of Colonial Rule. He loved the way the Belgians conducted their educational policies in the Belgian Congo. Loved the fact students were only instructed through the 6th grade and they were taught it was God's will that they had Colonial Rulers. No public funds for any higher education. Even liked the fact the Belgians favored the Tutsis over the Hutus.

    Newt loved Colonial Rule. No wonder he made that inane comment about Obama being anti-colonial.

  • ghostryder on May 17, 2011 10:42 AM:

    Congrats, Steve!!

    Any idea who you'll pick for the VP slot on the "Political Animal" party ticket?

  • chi res on May 17, 2011 10:58 AM:

    Gotta see this! Newt gets pwnd by Iowa voter! "What you did to Paul Ryan is just unforgiveable."


  • knightphoenix2 on May 17, 2011 11:06 AM:

    RUN, Steve, RUN!

    In *2016*... Like everybody else said, we're good with Obama for 2012. Especially since he's (finally) begun to *fight back* against the Republicans, in his own quiet way, of course.

    Captcha is *weird*: Fenced eangeD?!

  • kindness on May 17, 2011 11:15 AM:

    Steve Benen for President!!!

    I'd vote for you over Newtie any day.

  • scott_m on May 17, 2011 11:47 AM:

    Okay, I'm having second thoughts about this whole "Benen for President" thing. First, I'll need to know some thing that will bear directly on his policies: his preferred Bible translation, favorite hymn, and which of Jesus's disciples he identifies with most.

  • Wren on May 17, 2011 1:53 PM:

    "This guy’s chances of being elected president next year are about as good as mine."

    Well, that's a relief. Even so, Steve, if the voting came down to a battle between you and Newt, I'd vote for you.