Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus appeared on "Meet the Press" yesterday and largely stuck to the pre-scripted soundbites, but there was a moment that stood out for me.
For those who can't watch clips online, host David Gregory brought up Paul Ryan's plan to replace Medicare with a voucher system. The RNC chairman pushed back, arguing, "Medicare is going broke. Every person in America watching this now knows that that's true. This president stole -- he didn't cut Medicare -- he stole $700 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare. If any person in this entire debate has blood on their hands in regard to Medicare, it's Barack Obama."
Even for Priebus, this is remarkable. The notion that President Obama "stole" from Medicare is absurd, but even if we put that aside, notice the incoherence of the RNC's argument -- we need to address Medicare financing, which means necessary cuts, which Obama made, which means Obama's wrong. That doesn't make any sense.
Moreover, Gregory didn't follow up on the point, but the fact is, Paul Ryan's budget plan adopted all of the Medicare savings Obama included in the Affordable Care Act. In other words, these "cuts" Republicans are pretending to be outraged by have been included in the Republican agenda. If Obama's policy is so awful, why did Paul Ryan embrace it?
But I'm especially amazed by the "blood on the hands" line. We just spent a week in which Republicans and the media were apoplectic about a super PAC ad that infers, indirectly, that a woman died when Romney laid off her husband. To implicate the candidate bears some responsibility for someone's health-care-related death was, we were told, beyond any fair standard of decency.
And yet, it's fine when the chairman of the RNC tells a national television audience that the president has "blood on his hands" because of budget cuts Republicans have already endorsed?
Incidentally, at the very end of the interview, Gregory noted the relative inexperience of the GOP ticket. Priebus said, "I think combined these guys are ready on day one."
"Combined"? Does that mean Mitt Romney, the least experienced major-party nominee in 72 years, isn't ready on his own?