Newt Gingrich 1, Glenn Beck 0

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 6 2011 10:43 AM

Newt Gingrich 1, Glenn Beck 0

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JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - AUGUST 24: (ISRAEL OUT) U.S. conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck hosts a rally near the Western Wall, on August 24, 2011 in Jerusalem's Old City, Israel. The event, under the slogan 'Restoring Courage', was attended by hundreds of his evangelical Christian supporters, whilst many who oppose his right-wing views protested outside. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Do yourself a solid and read Glenn Beck's interview with Newt Gingrich. Already, I'm seeing the interview pinched and pulled for hits on Gingrich, whom Beck tries to trap by playing back old quotes about the benefits of government. But I think Gingrich, by staying on message and throwing out distractions, evades Beck, who has oppo but no follow-ups.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

Look at this exchange on mandates, which is preceded by a massive quote dump -- Beck hitting the button again and again to play Newt endorsing mandatory insurance.

GLENN: Okay. Yet you seem to always be ‑‑ this is long‑term individual mandate stuff. You seem to be very interested in the government finding the solution.
GINGRICH: Well, let’s go back to what I just said. What I was asked was if a program is unpopular, should the Republicans impose it anyway. We can go back and we can listen to exactly what I was asked on that show and what I said I stand by, which is in a free society, you don’t elect officials to impose on you things that you disagree with. We just went through this slide over ObamaCare.
Now, I also, ironically, I would implement the Medicare reforms that Paul Ryan wants, I would implement them next year as an optional choice and I would allow people to have the option to choose premium support and then have freedom to negotiate with their doctor or their hospital in a way that would increase their ability to manage costs without being involved, you know ‑‑ but I wouldn’t impose it on everybody across the board. I think that’s a very large scale experiment. But I think you could migrate people toward it. I’m proposing the same thing on Social Security. I think young people ought to have the right to choose a personal Social Security insurance savings account plan and the Social Security actuary estimates that 95% of young people would pick a personal Social Security savings account over the current system but they would do so voluntarily because we would empower them to make a choice. We wouldn’t impose it on them. That’s a question of how do you think you can get this country to move more rapidly toward reform, and I think you can get it to move toward reform faster.
GLENN: All right.
GINGRICH: By giving people the right to choose.
GLENN: Let me just ‑‑ I just want to get to a few things.
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That's it -- he lets Newt off the ropes! Listeners hear Gingrich endorsing the concept of a mandate, but Beck doesn't grind down into the details of what Gingrich favors now, whether his concepts were similar to the ones adopted in Obamacare. Which they sort of were. There's a nice Venn overlap between organizations that funded Newt's think tanks and organizations that lobbied for Obamacare. But Beck walks away.

Another example: Beck asking Gingrich how his support for ethanol subsidies jibes with his opposition to "picking winners and losers."

GLENN: Why would we, why would we go into subsidies, though? Isn’t ‑‑ aren’t subsidies really some of the biggest problems that we have with our spending and out‑of‑control picking of winners and losers?
GINGRICH: Well, it depends on what you’re subsidizing. The idea of having economic incentives for manufacturing goes back to Alexander Hamilton’s first report of manufacturing which I believe was 1791. We have always had a bias in favor of investing in the future. We built the transcontinental railroads that way. The Erie Canal was built that way. We’ve always believed that having a strong infrastructure and having a strong energy system are net advantages because they’ve made us richer and more powerful than any country in the world. But what I object to is subsidizing things that don’t work and things that aren’t creating a better future. And the problem with the modern welfare state is it actually encourages people to the wrong behaviors, encourages them not to work, encourages them not to study.
GLENN: All right.

It's almost like Gingrich poked around in a bag of fairy dusts, picked the one labeled "founding fathers," and splashed it in Beck's face, rendering him speechless. I think we get some insight into how Gingrich, who simply knows more than the median Tea Partier, keeps evading policy traps and winning Tea Party votes.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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