* Newt Gingrich’s epic implosion continues apace: I’m not sure why more people aren’t picking up on this, but as Glenn Kessler’s dissection of Newt’s backtracking on criticism of Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal clearly demonstrates, Gingrich is still calling Ryan’s plan “radical.”
It continues to astound that Gingrich — who has been on the national scene since the mid-1990s — entered the presidential race without a coherent, thought-through position on one of the central political and policy questions of the moment, one of immense significance to the conservatives who decide GOP primaries. Even more astounding is the ferocity of the backlash, which underscores how heavily invested conservatives are in the Ryan agenda, despite the warning from some GOP strategists that pursuing it could be politically catastrophic.
* Dems flog destroying Medicare as the new GOP litmus test: The DNC is out with a new video that recaps Gingrich’s epic journey from Paul Ryan critic to groveling, apologetic panderer, a sign Dems won’t let up in using this episode to define the GOP as ideologically hell bent on destroying Medicare.
* Previewing Obama’s speech on the “Arab spring”: Scott Wilson has the preview of today’s speech: He’s not expected to call for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to step down; his advisers are still divided on how specific he should be (a key thing to watch for) in laying down specific principles and a framework for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Jake Tapper has a detailed preview from administration officials: “Obama will try to convince the Arab World that the U.S. wants to shift its engagement in the region from a military one to a political and economic engagement that will help the people of the region realize their dreams.”
* Coburn explains why he bailed on “Gang of Six”: Conservative Senator Tom Coburn has an Op ed in the Post explaining why he abandoned the deficit reduction talks.
Key takeaway: He admits that a major stumbling block is the refusal of some to recognize that revenue increases must be part of the solution. Say what you will about Coburn, but virtually no other conservatives are willing to entertain such apostasy.
* What “revenue increases” are really on the table? Digby explains why we should see it as a “bait and switch”:
The Republicans want to cut Medicare and Social Security in exchange for pretending to raise taxes.
* Mitch Daniels: Relatively okay on health reform: A narrative to watch: With the presidential buzz building around Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, liberals will today begin highlighting his relatively decent record (compared to other GOP governors) on Obama’s health reform law — an effort to box him in, a la Mitt Romney.
“Daniels could be another welcome adult voice in the health care policy debate,” emails Eddie Vale, a spokesman for ProtectYourCare.org. “When push comes to shove on actual policy, his administration in Indiana has been pretty good at helping to implement the Affordable Care Act.” Helpful in a GOP primary!
* Which Jon Huntsman will come to New Hampshire today? With former Obama ambassador to China Jon Huntsman set to visit the early primary state, the Concord Monitor welcomes him with a stinging assessment of his flip-flopping, demanding to know whether he is now abandoning previously sensible positions on climate change, health reform and gay rights to pander to GOP primary voters.
* Huntsman advisers: He’s no moderate! Indeed, Huntsman advisers are already moving to insist that despite those positions, he’s not a moderate at all and in fact he’s really, really truly a solid conservative. “Moderate” — now a dirty word.
* Rolling out the big guns in special House election: Marco Rubio robocalls for Republican Jane Corwin, claiming conservatives need her in Washington to keep up their agenda’s “momentum,” another sign that both sides view this as a major testing ground for national messaging on Medicare and Paul Ryan’s plan.
Indeed, she’s still denying that the Ryan plan “ends Medicare as we know it.”
* Traditional media gets caught up in the Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop: There really is no clear reason why the press couldn’t devote just a bit more attention to the public’s number one concern.
* Palin casually lies about “tight faced” Pelosi: No one will care, because she’s such a rock star or whatever, but Sarah Palin is just outright lying to Fox News viewers about Nancy Pelosi’s nonexistent role in securing Obamacare waivers for companies in her district.
Also note Palin’s classy description of Pelosi as “tight-faced.”
* And birtherism is dead, but “otherism” lives on: Flirting with birtherism may no longer be fashionable among 2012 GOP hopefuls, but as David Corn notes, they are still trafficking heavily in “otherism,” the effort to feed suspicions in various ways that Obama is culturally suspect and vaguely alien.
What else is happening?