By Paul Goldman
Like you, I didn’t believe all this Doomsday 2011 talk until seeing what happened to Newt Gingrich last weekend. What if the ancient scrolls and stuff really meant that the Big D came last Saturday? That’s right, we were all – most of us, anyway – in heaven by last Saturday. Except that we then had to listen to Newt’s mind-boggling Sunday appearance on “Meet The Press.” That ruined the Rapture, so Newt had to be punished (making him give back all the Tiffany jewels would just punish his wife; he needed to punish himself).
Truth was, Newt had the right political instincts regarding the GOP PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY SWING VOTER: If you are seen as being “soft” on making sure the 55 and over crowd has Medicare when they need it, then you can’t get nominated by the Republican Party, much less win the Presidency. GOP voters may be conservative but they aren’t crazy: they see themselves as having already paid for Medicare.
Like it or not, politics comes down to the “spin.”
Medicare matters to millions of people who show up to the polls in a primary. Paul Ryan didn’t even dare run for the Senate in Wisconsin. Do you need to go to Heaven to know why? He can keep winning in a gerrymandered GOP CD. But not in a statewide electorate with an anti-Medicare image.
Gingrich therefore saw his chance to be the fighter for the 55 and over voter against his rivals. Thus his screw-up – being seen as attacking Republicans, not defending these voters – shouldn’t blind us to his correct instinct. Frankly, I still want to see the next round of GOP presidential polls. How much has Gingrich actually been hurt? It might more an issue of alienating donors.
Now comes George Allen’s turn to play Doomsday 2011. When asked, Mr. Allen dodged this question: Would he vote for the Paul Ryan budget?
Allen remembers 2006. Ryan’s budget is statewide code for anti-Medicare. George knows what happens if you get caught on the wrong side of the “spin.”
Allen’s rivals for the GOP Senate nomination are all 100% Ryanites. This is why Tim Kaine is pressing Allen to choose now, in the wake of the Gingrich fiasco, since Allen has shown fear of crossing the Tea Party purists.
Smart play, Tim. Back at UVA, former QB George Allen had a reputation for throwing interceptions when blitzed. Kaine’s got all his linebackers rushing the passer. The Tea Party receiver is right there, waiting for the easy “dump off” pass.
But what happens if Allen doesn’t panic, stands his ground in the face of the blitz, and finds the open receiver on the Post pattern across the middle of the field?
In college, Allen didn’t have the “arm” to complete that play. But as Dennis Quaid showed in the great movie, The Rookie, defying age is not impossible.
Kaine has no choice but to call the blitz. Let’s see if it works.