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The opening session of the Republican National Committee's Boston confab featured ex-speaker Newt Gingrich scolding his fellow Republicans on their failure to come through on the "replace" side of "repeal-and-replace."
During Thursday’s debate in Charleston, S.C., CNN’s John King asked Newt Gingrich whether there was anything from the campaign he would like to do over. Gingrich barely paused. “I would skip the opening three months, where I hired regular consultants and tried to figure out how to be a normal candidate, and I would just go straight at being a big-ideas, big-solutions, Internet-based campaign from Day One,” he said.
Newt Gingrich says he has a “visionary” speech on space planned for Thursday. The GOP presidential candidate, a longtime advocate of establishing moon colonies, might want to prepare by reading a new paper in the journal ‘Astrobiology’ that attempts to rate nearby planets and moons in terms of habitability. The Economist’s “Daily Chart” blog helpfully graphed the results:
Earth, incidentally, gets dinged for insufficient “tidal flexing.”
On Saturday’s edition of “Up With Chris Hayes,” Gary Johnson brought up an old Newt Gingrich idea I hadn’t heard before: Putting individuals who brought more than two ounces of marijuana into the United States to death. That sounded extreme, even for Gingrich. So I looked it up. And sure enough, there it is: “The Drug Importer Death Penalty Act of 1996.” What makes the bill even more amazing is that Gingrich himself is a confessed pot smoker. When he was young, he said, experimenting with drugs “was a sign we were alive and in graduate school in that era.”
On Saturday, David Fahrenthold wrote that “more than a year after Republicans first pledged to ‘repeal and replace’ President Obama’s new health-care law, the GOP is still struggling to answer a basic question. Replace it . . . with what?”
This shouldn’t be such a problem. Health care is a big issue. It’s been around a long time. The Republican Party should, in 2011, have a position on it. To understand why it doesn’t, it’s worth reading Newt Gingrich’s April 2006 comments on then-Gov. Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts reforms.
“The most exciting development of the past few weeks is what has been happening up in Massachusetts,” wrote Gingrich, or someone speaking for Gingrich, in his “Newt Notes” newsletter. “The health bill that Governor Romney signed into law this month has tremendous potential to effect major change in the American health system. We agree entirely with Governor Romney and Massachusetts legislators that our goal should be 100% insurance coverage for all Americans. ... Individuals who can afford to purchase health insurance and simply choose not to place an unnecessary burden on a system that is on the verge of collapse; these free-riders undermine the entire health system by placing the onus of responsibility on taxpayers.”
In 2006, in other words, the Republican Party had an alternative to Obamacare. The only problem? It was Obamacare.
Jonathan Cohn offers another example of an idea that was conventional wisdom among Republican policy wonks when Newt Gingrich supported it but has since become a much-loathed initiative associated with the Obama administration:
The title of the article was “How to Take American Health Care from Worst to First” and it was actually a collaboration by Gingrich, Kerry, and Billy Beane. If you follow baseball or read (or saw) Moneyball then you are familiar with Beane. He’s the revered general manager of the Oakland Athletics who helped pioneer the use of “sabermetrics.”
Perhaps I should say a bit more about why I’m so certain Newt Gingrich will not be the Republican nominee for president. Let’s put it this way: To believe Republicans will choose Gingrich, you have to believe they will choose someone who:
- previously supported a cap-and-trade plan to reduce carbon emissions, and even filmed a commercial alongside Nancy Pelosi to that effect;
The Republican presidential field seems increasingly like some sort of poli-sci paradox: None of them can win the nomination but one of them has to. So what happens?
Well, perhaps none of them win the nomination. I loathe the quadrennial talk of late-breaking candidates and brokered conventions, as it’s usually little more than the media plumping for a more interesting storyline. But the fact that such things rarely happen doesn’t mean they can’t ever happen. And this, from Nate Silver, is a plausible scenario:
According to the polls and the pundits, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are the two front-runners for the Republican nomination for president. That means both of them will spend the next few weeks trying to show that they are more competent, conservative, and generally Reagan-like than the other.
But I’m a uniter, not a divider. I don’t want to focus on the differences between Romney and Gingrich. I want to focus on the commonalities. Because these two men have a lot in common not only with each other but also with President Obama.
Both Gingrich and Romney, for instance, supported a universal health-care plan backed by an individual mandate requiring all Americans of means to purchase health-care insurance — just as Obama does.