Um, is Newt Gingrich really a tea partier? Ah well. Either way, why promise what you can’t deliver?

In an interview with me just now, Max Pappas, the Vice President for Public Policy of Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks, said that if the bill passes, politicians should call for a full repeal.

“This has an unusual ability to be repealed, and the public is on that side.” he said. “The Republicans are going to have to prove that they are worthy of their votes.”

He emphasized that all the different parts of the bill fit together, and that Congress would need to try to repeal the whole thing…

Newt Gingrich threw down the same gauntlet on “Meet the Press” yesterday when he said, “I suspect that every Republican in 2010 and 2012 will run on an absolute pledge to repeal this bill.”

That’s super, but (a) you’d have to stress that a vote for the GOP means repeal no earlier than 2013, since there ain’t no way The One is going to help kill his signature legislation and (b) this all assumes that the economy will be in recovery mode by November, leaving Republicans to scramble for something to counter with. If jobs are still flat — or, worse, if Krugman’s right that we might see yet another contraction — then that’ll be 80 percent of the GOP’s campaign message and ObamaCare will be gravy. If the economy does come back, ObamaCare and deficit spending will be the message, but in that case the chances of retaking Congress will be gone so the promise of repeal will seem especially empty. On top of all that, you’d have to frame the argument for repeal as very much not a return to the status quo: Even most Americans who hate the bill will, I suspect, blanch at the thought of eliminating coverage for people who’ve received it for the first time thanks to ObamaCare, so it’d be more a matter of replacing the bill with GOP-brand health-care reform rather than merely “repealing” it. Are Republicans prepared to run a campaign focused on their own policy ideas for health care?

While you mull, here’s Tribune columnist Clarence Page insisting it’s okay to call tea partiers “teabaggers” because someone at a rally eight months ago had a sign that made a joke about it and, well, that’s enough to conclude that we all asked for it. Mind you, this guy is a Pulitzer Prize winner. Click the image to watch.

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