When even a hack manages to embarrass himself

WHEN EVEN A HACK MANAGES TO EMBARRASS HIMSELF…. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah has been nearly as shameless as anyone in making ridiculous and demonstrably false claims about health care policy. But last night, he may have reached a new low. I knew he was a partisan hack, but this one managed to surprise me.

After hearing Hatch complain about the individual mandate, CNN’s Campbell Brown noted that he endorsed the identical idea in 1993. “Well,” Hatch replied, “in 1993, we were trying to kill Hillary-care, and I didn’t pay any attention to that, because that was part of a bill that I just hadn’t centered on.”

In other words, Hatch endorsed a policy he didn’t understand, simply to kill a piece of legislation he also didn’t understand. The senator, who’s been on the Hill for more than a generation, admitted, on national television, that he promoted an idea that he didn’t “pay any attention to,” simply as part of a larger ploy.

Mark Halperin, who isn’t exactly known for taking a hard line against Republicans, characterized Hatch’s on-air remarks as “breathtaking cynicism.” It is, indeed.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.