A lot of candidates for the Republican nomination are going to have a tough time supporting past votes and past positions. In any Presidential contest, this is so.  

It is one thing to be wrong in the past, but it is a very different beast to be wrong on one of the greatest issues confronting the country today.  

Taking a bad vote or supporting a boneheaded position in the past may be disqualifying. Being wrong on the great issues confronting our country in the present is disqualifying, at least for many serious minded conservatives.  

Newt Gingrich, we suspect, is learning all this the hard way this week. Here's him spouting off on Paul Ryan's plan to reform entitlement spending:  

“I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering,” Gingrich told host David Gregory Sunday on Meet the Press. “I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.”  He added, “I think that that is too big a jump.”

This is the political equivalent of cutting your own Achilles tendon before running a marathon. While Gingrich was supposed to be basking in the glow of his announcement, instead he was groveling for forgiveness. Politico puts it best:

Monday was supposed to be the day Newt Gingrich kicked off a 17-stop barnstorming tour through Iowa to debut his newly launched presidential campaign.  Instead, he got kicked in the teeth.

Long time observers of Newt, including his former House colleagues, all seemed to agree that Newt's biggest problem was going to be his propensity for gaffes. And insulting Paul Ryan and the Republican's bold plan to cut the deficit is the Mother of all primary gaffes.  

We're not sure he can survive it. Like Biden's gaffe about Barack Obama being the first clean, well spoken black guy to run for President days after entering the race back in 2007, Gingrich's gaffe may have effectively squelched any chance he might have had.