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Romney Ryan: The Real Target

So, a memo to the news media: you have now become players in this campaign, not just reporters. Mitt Romney isn’t seeking a debate on the issues; on the contrary, he’s betting that your gullibility and vanity will let him avoid a debate on the issues, including the issue of his own fitness for the presidency. I guess we’ll see if it works.

Romney Ryan Rolls Royce Hood
Romney Ryan Rolls Royce Hood

Paul Krugman is not fooled by Paul Ryan, nor Willard’s cynical choice in selecting Ryan as VP candidate…

The trouble, of course, is that it’s really really hard to find any actual conservative politicians who deserve that praise. Ryan, with his flaky numbers (and actually very hard-line stance on social issues), certainly doesn’t. But a large part of the commentariat decided early on that they were going to cast Ryan in the role of Serious Honest Conservative, and have been very unwilling to reconsider that casting call in the light of evidence.

So that’s the constituency Romney is targeting: not a large segment of the electorate, but a few hundred at most editors, reporters, programmers, and pundits. His hope is that Ryan’s unjustified reputation for honest wonkery will transfer to the ticket as a whole.

So, a memo to the news media: you have now become players in this campaign, not just reporters. Mitt Romney isn’t seeking a debate on the issues; on the contrary, he’s betting that your gullibility and vanity will let him avoid a debate on the issues, including the issue of his own fitness for the presidency. I guess we’ll see if it works.

(click here to continue reading Romney/Ryan: The Real Target – NYTimes.com.)

I guess we will. Early returns show mixed results: there are plenty of soft, substance-less pieces on Ryan, but there are plenty of discussions of Ryan’s plan to shred the safety net, privatize Social Security and demolish Medicare as well. 

Everybody Is Going to Make It This Time
Everybody Is Going to Make It This Time

Kos has more in this vein:

Yet rather than earn him some breathing room in the campaign and a nice honeymoon, the reception has been cold at best. Sure, there’s been a smattering of puff pieces about Ryan’s body fat composition, but the coverage has been more focused on the facts that Romney has moved to the Right rather than the center, that he had to pacify an increasingly hostile base, that Ryan endangers GOP advantages with seniors, that his presence on the ticket is a nightmare for downballot Republicans, and that his budget gives Democrats a treasure trove of material with which to attack.

Indeed, in the last several days, half the questions Romney has gotten have been along the lines of, “Where, exactly, do you disagree with the Ryan budget?”

Romney is on the breaking point. He’s already had to cancel campaign appearances (though not fundraisers!) because of exhaustion. He’s used to being surrounded by yes-men who tell him he’s wonderful. Now that Obama fellow (and even critics on his own side) has the temerity to talk about him!

Romney whines: The president’s campaign has put out a campaign that’s talking about me and attacking me. I think it’s just demeaning to the nature of the process, particularly when we face the kinds of challenges we face.

It’s so demeaning to elections to have candidates talk about each other! Of course, it wasn’t demeaning when Romney accused Obama of not being American. That part was as perfectly all right as was insulting the British prime minister, the cookies at a campaign stop, and the ponchos worn by NASCAR fans. That’s just Mitt being Mitt (IOW, a dick). But to have other people talk about you? That can’t stand!

(click here to continue reading Daily Kos: This is what panic looks like.)

Some Things Shouldn't Change
Some Things Shouldn’t Change

More Dr. Krugman:

even Jacob Weisberg apologized for his initial praise, admitting that

I reacted too quickly and didn’t sort out just how laughable Ryan’s long-term spending projections were. His plan projects an absurd future, according to the Congressional Budget Office, in which all discretionary spending, now around 12 percent of GDP, shrinks to 3 percent of GDP by 2050. Defense spending alone was 4.7 percent of GDP in 2009. With numbers like that, Ryan is more an anarchist-libertarian than honest conservative.

Look, Ryan hasn’t “crunched the numbers”; he has just scribbled some stuff down, without checking at all to see if it makes sense. He asserts that he can cut taxes without net loss of revenue by closing unspecified loopholes; he asserts that he can cut discretionary spending to levels not seen since Calvin Coolidge, without saying how; he asserts that he can convert Medicare to a voucher system, with much lower spending than now projected, without even a hint of how this is supposed to work. This is just a fantasy, not a serious policy proposal.

So why does Saletan believe otherwise? Has he crunched the numbers himself? Of course not. What he’s doing – and what the whole Beltway media crowd has done – is to slot Ryan into a role someone is supposed to be playing in their political play, that of the thoughtful, serious conservative wonk. In reality, Ryan is nothing like that; he’s a hard-core conservative, with a voting record as far right as Michelle Bachman’s, who has shown no competence at all on the numbers thing.

What Ryan is good at is exploiting the willful gullibility of the Beltway media, using a soft-focus style to play into their desire to have a conservative wonk they can say nice things about. And apparently the trick still works.

(click here to continue reading The Ryan Role – NYTimes.com.)

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