Old Paul Ryan gaffe goes viral: "We're not going to give up on destroying the health care system"

This brainfart from the Republican speaker of the house dates to 2013, not the aftermath of his failure to pass 2017's universally-loathed Obamacare replacement plan. Snopes:


House Speaker Ryan said he would not give up on destroying the United States' health care system.


The statement was a gaffe that was taken out of context, not an actual admission of intent. ...

Although Ryan did say “we’re not going to give up on destroying the healthcare system for the American people,” this was merely a gaffe, not a statement of intent. Ryan was referring to the Affordable Care Act and his efforts to not let that law destroy the health care system.

This is fair context, but "merely a gaffe" handwaves what makes gaffes interesting. Lack of intent is not intrinsic to gaffes. Indeed, the fact gaffes tend to reveal intent is embodied by a term a journalists use for political ones to distinguish them from lesser varieties: the Kinsley Gaffe.

The first appearance in print of “Kinsley’s Law of Gaffes” may have been on January 17, 2008, when Hendrik Hertzberg wrote in a post about a Democratic candidates’ debate in his New Yorker blog:

No article or blog post of this kind can be complete without a reference to (Michael) Kinsley’s Law of Gaffes, which states that a gaffe occurs when a politician accidentally tells the truth. Perhaps this should be supplemented by the notion of a Deductive Slip, meaning something a politician says, however inadvertently, that can be shoehorned into a pre-existing “narrative.”

Kinsley himself points out that in political cases, the supposed gaffe is never animated by surprise. Just as everyone knew, for example, that Rush Limbaugh had a low opinion of women before revealing it in a "gaffe," everyone already knows Paul Ryan didn't need Obamacare to become an Ayn Randian laissez-faire dork. What he is has already been established; the gaffe is haggling over the price.