The ‘Radical’ Paul Revere

So, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called Paul Ryan’s plan to reform Medicare “radical,” an example of “right-wing social engineering” and “too big a jump” for the American people to accept. But as TIME’s Jay Newton-Small points out, Gingrich said shortly after the Ryan budget was adopted by the House that he would have voted for the “radical” document.

To be fair, consistency isn’t exactly Newt’s strong suit. But even more striking than his passing comment to a reporter is this newsletter published in Human Events days after the passage of the Ryan budget. As you might expect given its title — “From Paul Revere to Paul Ryan” — it offers a rather grandiose exaltation of the man Gingrich now accuses of radicalism:

Monday was the 236th anniversary of Paul Revere’s midnight ride to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams that British troops were coming to arrest them and seize colonial arms at Concord.  While riding, Revere stopped at houses along the way to warn everyone that “the British are coming.”  His warning galvanized patriots to meet the British at Lexington and Concord, leading to the “shot heard around the world” and the first military battle of the American Revolution.

This year the anniversary fell on the same day  income taxes were due.  It was unfair taxation that sparked the protests in Massachusetts and other colonies against British rule that came to shape the Founders’ view of limited government. Today, an out-of-control government spending our nation into a debt crisis has sparked another rebellion.

Today, Congressman Paul Ryan has been our generation’s Paul Revere, warning his fellow Americans about the coming danger and rallying us to a plan to meet the threat head on.

Gingrich proceeds to compare the Ryan budget to President Obama’s “plan” and finds the latter severely lacking on two fronts: 1) “whether his plan would create jobs or destroy them, and 2) “whether his plan to control the cost of entitlements relied on merely squeezing the current systems through rationing, reduced benefits and cost controls or if he proposed fundamental structural reforms that would deliver better results at lower costs.”

As Bob Costa notes, Gingrich did attempt to distance himself, however slightly, from Ryan’s Medicare plan via a posting on his Facebook page, just one day after the newsletter was published, by signaling his support for an alternative solution (Rivlin-Domenici).

That, however, is a far cry from the harsh critique and provocative adjectives Gingrich unleashed on Meet the Press. In fact, he appears to have forgotten one aspect of his argument against the president’s alternative to the Ryan plan:

Just as troubling than the bad plan put forward by the president was the extraordinary partisan spectacle he engaged in when he slandered Paul Ryan and the GOP 2012 budget. The distortions the president employed while describing the Ryan plan were so malicious, that I wanted to give Congressman Ryan the opportunity to respond himself in this newsletter.

And while Gingrich’s words do not quite measure up to some of the more ambitious attacks from liberals (See: here and here), they have already been gleefully appropriated by liberals as a way to undermine Congressional Republicans. As such, National Review Online gave Team Ryan the opportunity to respond to attack. The House budget chair continues his fight this morning with a high-profile speech at the Economic Club of Chicago. Meanwhile, Gingrich continues with the “spectacle” of his campaign.

Andrew Stiles — Andrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...

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