Gingrich blames ‘gotcha’ questions

I haven’t even tried to keep up with all of the revelations that have made today such a fiasco for disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Where would one start? The six-figure debt to Tiffany’s? The humiliating run-in with an angry Iowa Republican? The explanation of “evolving” beliefs? The fury from the Republican base?

At the heart of Gingrich’s problems are his comments over the weekend condemning the House Republican budget plan, which, among other things, ends Medicare. This has generated an intense backlash from right, which Gingrich sought to quell today with a conference call. His explanation is one of the most amusing responses I’ve seen in a long while.

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, speaking on a Tuesday conference call held to respond to his controversial comments about Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, said that he didn’t go into his interview with NBC’s David Gregory “hostile enough” and should have pushed back more forcefully against the “gotcha” questions the host asked. […]

Gingrich said he should have been better prepared for the “adversarial nature” of “Meet the Press.”

“I didn’t go in there quite hostile enough, because it didn’t occur to me going in that you’d have a series of setups,” Gingrich said. “This wasn’t me randomly saying things. These were very deliberate efforts to pick fights.”

Well, as it turns out, NBC News posts the transcripts of every episode of “Meet the Press,” so let’s go ahead and look at the “gotcha” questions, which Gingrich now perceives as “a series of setups” intended to “pick fights.”

* Health care mandate: The issue was in the news a lot last week, in large part because of Mitt Romney. Gingrich used to support a mandate, so David Gregory asked, “You agree with Mitt Romney on this point?” and Gingrich proceeded to defend the policy.

* Medicare: The issue has been at the center of the public discourse for several weeks, and Gregory asked, “The Medicare trust fund, in stories that have come out over the weekend, is now going to be depleted by 2024, five years earlier than predicted. Do you think that Republicans ought to buck the public opposition and really move forward to completely change Medicare, turn it into a voucher program where you give seniors some premium support so that they can go out and buy private insurance?” Gingrich responded that he rejects “right-wing social engineering.”

Now, I don’t mean to sound picky, but Gingrich has been on “Meet the Press” 35 times. In 2009, the first year of the Obama presidency, literally no one was on “Meet the Press” as often as Gingrich (five appearances in less than 12 months). In what universe could he perceive David Gregory’s straightforward inquiries about major topics “gotcha” questions and “a series of setups” intended to “pick fights”?

It’s not the host’s fault the disgraced former Speaker said what he said, and even the most gullible right-wing activist should know not to take this excuse seriously.