After the election, Righty circles are naturally engaging in some soul-searching, finger-pointing, and bickering. Some of this is unproductive venting, but it’s also the start of the process of working out how to move on and improve, and there’s no time to waste.
My conversations with fellow Righty operatives and bloggers have spurred me to suggest several ways Republicans could simultaneously make the party more attractive (or less repulsive) to voters and achieve more conservative results. This post is about immigration and reversing the trend of Hispanics rapidly abandoning the GOP; the next is about gay marriage; and the final post is about entitlement reform.
First, let’s dispense with the notion agreed upon by many on the Right: seal the border first, so that whatever follows is more controlled and orderly. This is an expensive fantasy. Conservatives need to apply their skepticism of huge, complex, market-distorting government plans to every issue surrounding immigration, starting with any plan to spend tens of billions of dollars on thousands of miles of fence, surveillance, unionized government employees, and a verification system forced on every employer in the country.
It’s a joke that the Republican Party, which is practically defined by marriage, babies, and mortgages, holds at arm’s length a whole demographic (Hispanics, especially foreign-born) that tends to be more religious, marry younger and longer, and have larger families than the average American voter.
Mass immigration could work for the GOP if the GOP went with the tide instead of trying to stop it.
- If Republicans want school choice, they should have natural allies among those who are religious, have large families, and see their children suffer under the worst public schools. When you hear complaints that Hispanic immigrants don’t speak English, suggest vouchers and education savings accounts for private-school English language instruction.
- If Republicans want to revive farms and stop the population drain from rural areas, make legitimate cheap labor more available: open up a bunch of farm worker visas.
- If Republicans want to cut the cost of new housing so that young people can form households and families, make legitimate cheap labor available for that too. Heck, why not try to break various trade unions by inviting enough skilled immigrants to swamp or bypass their system?
- So the entitlement system is a problem? Yeah, Milton Friedman famously said you can’t simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state. Shouldn’t the Republican response be “Bring on free immigration“? If math dooms Medicaid and the subsidized industrial-age hospital model, why not make the math even harder?
- Conservatives have longed to shift taxes away from production and toward consumption. Nobody wants to remove labor tax wedges (AHEM: the payroll tax) as much as someone in a labor-intensive business, the kind that tends to thrive when there’s a lot of cheap labor available. That goes for both employers and the employees whose compensation is tilted toward wages rather than benefits; we know it suppresses the Hispanic savings rate. And the payroll tax, of course, helps to maintain the accounting fiction that SocSec and Medicare are like savings.
Now, about the security problem: is it easier to pick out a genuine security threat in the crowd if everyone just has to pass a security check, or if hundreds of thousands of people are trying to cross the border undetected because the only legal route is a seven-year byzantine process?
Heather Mac Donald at NRO offers a potential counter-argument: Hispanics are more suspicious of Republicans for supporting class warfare than for opposing immigration according to a poll (from March 2011), and a majority favor gay marriage, so they’re not such a conservative bunch. But:
- Immigration may not be most Hispanics’ top concern, but it isn’t trivial either. And because politics is so tribal, there are many ways to alienate a group without actually disagreeing on policy – many of which Republicans blunder into when discussing immigration.
- Republicans shouldn’t cede the class warfare argument either: it wouldn’t hurt if the party focused more on the poor, as Mac Donald’s colleague Kevin D. Williamson exhorts the GOP to do. If you’re a small-government type who reads the previous sentence as a plea to compromise on principle, that reaction is part of the problem.
- Finally: social issues. Mac Donald points out that a majority of Hispanics favor gay marriage. I’ll argue in my next post that conservatives should proactively embrace gay marriage, which should resolve this issue nicely.
It’s rather simple really. And the Washington Post provides the answer today:
In the last three releases of the tracking poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News, Obama has trailed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney among independent voters by between 16 and 20 percentage points.
That’s a striking reversal from 2008, when Obama won independent voters, who made up 29 percent of the electorate, by eight points over Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
And if Romney’s large margin among independents holds, it will be a break not just from 2008 but also from 2000 and 2004. In 2000, Texas Gov. George W. Bush won independents by 47 percent to 45 percent over Vice President Al Gore. Four years later, Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts essentially split unaffiliated voters, according to exit polls — 48 percent for Bush to 49 percent for Kerry. (Independents made up 27 percent of the vote in 2000 and 26 percent in 2004.)
It is more than a “striking reversal”, it is an indicator of what other major demographics are demonstrating as well. A big shift away from Obama. So one of two things has to be true – the polls showing these big demographic shifts away from Obama are wrong, or the polls showing this to be a tight race with Obama slightly ahead or behind have to be wrong. They can’t both be right.
When you add in the “atmospherics”, it is hard to believe this is a tight race. The enthusiasm for Obama isn’t there (and certainly not at all like it was in 2008), apparently the major demographics aren’t there and finally, even in the polls that do show a close race, the trend continues to be up for Romney.
It still isn’t clear what demographic model the polls are using, but as I said in the podcast last night, if it is skewed with D+ anything, it is likely wrong. If I had to guess I’d say a poll that isn’t skewing at least R+1 isn’t even in the same galaxy as this election. The atmospherics, demographics and momentum, whether the left or MSM wants to admit it or not, are on the side of the GOP. My guess is this doesn’t end up being a close election and that Democrats are not going to be happy with the outcome.
Michael Barone is one of the few poll watchers I respect. I’ve watched him in any number of elections and he’s objectively called it the way he saw it, usually spot on, for whomever the facts indicated was in the lead. No spin, just good analysis.
Well, in this season of polling chaos, Barone is out with his look at some of the key indicators that help him analyze election trends and he seems to think we are seeing a preference cascade begin ala 1980 … just slower:
My other alternative scenario was based on the 1980 election, when vast numbers of voters switched from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan after their single debate one week before the election. In that debate, the challenger showed he had presidential stature and the incumbent president seemed petulant and small-minded.
We saw an even more vivid contrast between challenger and incumbent in the Oct. 3 debate. In the next two debates, Obama was definitely more focused and aggressive. But Romney held his own, and post-Oct. 16 polling showed him improving his standing even though many debate watchers thought Obama won on points.
What we may be seeing, as we drink from the firehose of multiple poll results pouring in, is a slow-motion 1980.
That reinforces my point about the first debate and something we’ve been saying since Oct. 3. That is the debate that mattered. And note also that in debates 2 and 3, Obama pulled a Carter. His stature was diminished by his actions. He, as Barone and many others have observed, came across as “petulant and small-minded”. Add arrogant and condescending, and you’ve captured it. Oh, and by the way, his record, like Carter’s, is dismal.
Romney, on the other hand, came across exactly as he had to come across – competent, presidential, confident and, believe it or not, likable. He did what Ronald Reagan did – unfiltered by the media, he was able to convince Americans who tuned in that he was Presidential material. That he was a more than acceptable alternative to Obama.
All of that said, Barone isn’t claiming that this is a done deal by any stretch (“don’t get cocky kid”):
The usual caveats are in order. Exogenous events could affect opinion (Libya seems to have hurt Obama). The Obama ground game is formidable. Voters who switched to Romney could switch back again.
And if there is a larger reservoir of potentially changeable voters than in 2004, there was an even larger reservoir back in 1980, when Carter attracted white Southerners who now are firmly in Romney’s column.
Mechanical analogies can be misleading. Just because Romney has gained ground since Oct. 3 does not guarantee that he will gain more.
But also keep in mind that Romney gained not just from style but from fundamentals. Most voters dislike Obama’s domestic policies and are dissatisfied with the sluggish economy. And now they seem to believe have an alternative with presidential stature.
So, while we apparently have a preference cascade beginning, is it enough? And will it peak at the right time. Will it be a slow steady climb to election day? Will it plateau? Will it stop short of the majority Romney needs? Obviously we won’t know that until election night (or, perhaps, the next day). But suffice it to say, the upward trend is obvious.
How it will play out, however, remains to be seen.
Clint Eastwood is 82 and an American icon. It’s that simple. He’s sort of the John Wayne of this era. And he’s always been more “Republicanish” than the usual Hollywood crowd.
Last night he gave a speech, or a talk, or, well, whatever you’d like to characterize it as. It was both interesting and at time hilarious. That is, if you “got” what he was trying to do.
He said two things that to me are not said enough. If for no other reason, I liked his speech (which, by the way, is the only speech I’ve watched) because he said them. They are reminders that should be repeated over and over and over again.
The first is in the title. “We own this country”. Frankly, it’s time we started acting like it. Because there are those who would weaken that ownership to the point of non-existence. In fact, for the most part, that intrinsically American principle gets mostly lip service from our employees.
And yes, that’s the second line. Government and politicians are our employees. They work for us. Not the other way around, although you wouldn’t really know that the way things are going. When they’re not up to the job, we should fire them.
Anyway, Eastwood’s speech is getting the expected shredding in the press. Breitbart points out that there are already 25 plus stories (5 in Politico alone) on Eastwood’s speech. I don’t think anyone with any experience around politics and how it is covered today is the least bit surprised. They don’t like seeing “the one” they helped elect mocked.
But despite the negative claims of the media, was the speech effective? Well, I like Richard Fernandez’s take. He does a nice job of laying out why, at least to the “common folk” it was likely a hit.
It was an old man’s delivery, but overstatedly so for effect. It was a cutting delivery and for that reason delivered in low key. But for all of Clint Eastwood’s rhetorical cleverness at the Republican convention it derived its effectiveness precisely because it wasn’t one of those “I take this platform tonight with pen in hand, bearing in mind the immortal words of Clancy M. Duckworth” type orations. It wasn’t the speech of someone who was running for office.
Rather it might have come from Mr. Weller down at the corner office musing on simple things to not very important people. How it wasn’t good form to mess things up continuously. How one might lose faith in a man who made one broken promise too many. How at the end of the day everyone either did the job or quit out of decency. Even Presidents.
There was no malice in it. Just a tone of regret. But it was redolent of memory too. Of simple things a world away from the Mountaintop; of sentiments a light-year from dramatic arcs, and of ordinary happiness in a universe apart from grand bargains and high-flown rhetorical visions. They were truths that everyone who has ever worked knows but has somehow forgotten because it was so ordinary.
But they were never known to those who had never worked a real job in their lives. And that is the wonder. That they never knew them. Thus the speech was at once us versus them; it was the check in the mail against the certainties of the heart. Every true challenge is built on the bricks of memory. And there were as many challenges in the Eastwood speech as the stones we stand on.
So will it resonate? I think so. For the very reasons I outline above. Simple truths given by a man without a script, reminding us of the reality of the day. Straight talk, no apologies, no waffling, even using a symbolic device (empty chair) to make his point without having to say it.
Political professionals on the left, liberal bloggers and the press will savage it for days. But for those who saw it or will see it, my guess is they’ll pay little attention to those attacking him and more likely identify with the authenticity of the man they’ve “known” for decades. He’s one of us, they’ll think. He’s up there saying what we’d like to say if we had the podium and the ability to do it. It wasn’t polished, but it was real.
That’s what folks are looking for these days.
Frankly, it was refreshing.
We’ve talked in the past about why these “wave” elections, as they’re called, are happening with increasing frequency.
Well one of the reasons, I would assert, is people are tiring of the same old promises – promises that are rarely if ever kept – with the same old results – business as usual with vituperative partisan sniping and finger pointing, while we spend ourselves into oblivion.
No matter who is put into power, nothing substantive happens. So voters keep switching the sides in hope that some group they put in there will “get it”.
So along come this poll, which is quite interesting. No matter how “popular” Obama is alleged to be, it seems the party he is associated with is now at their popularity nadir.
Today’s Gallup Poll, "GOP Favorability Matches 2008 Pre-Convention Level," shows the pre-convention favorability ratings of the two Parties going back as far as 1992. For the very first time, the favorable/unfavorable ratios are now higher for the Republican Party than for the Democratic Party. For the first time ever, the Democratic favorability ratio, which has always been within the range of 1.20 to 1.56, is now below 1. It is a stunningly low .83, which is 31% lower than the prior Democratic Party low of 1.20, which was reached in 2004.
The Democrats find themselves at John Kerry territory in terms of popularity. Gee I wonder why (*cough* ignore the voters and pass ObamaCare, unemployment at 8.2%, economy in the crapper, etc., *cough*)?
But before Republicans celebrate because they’re better than Democrats, they should realize they’re only marginally better.
By contrast, the Republican ratio is now .88, which compares with the 2008 ratio of .80, which was that Party’s lowest-ever ratio, reached at the end of the Bush Presidency. Prior to 2008, the ratio was 1.16 in 2004, 1.41 in 2000, 1.16 in 1996, and 1.36 in 1992.
Those figures compare with the Democratic ratios of 1.38 in 2008 (compared with the Republican .80), 1.20 in 2004 (vs. 1.16), 1.56 in 2000 (vs. 1.41), 1.50 in 1996 (vs. 1.16), and 1.42 in 1992 (vs. 1.36).
So? So right now, Republicans seem to be enjoying a slightly better level of “popularity” than are Democrats. But both should note that their relative popularity is near the bottom of their historic range.
What does that say?
It says to me that voters are truly considering the lesser of two evils. That their “popularity” is a function of there being no other choice but these two and there being little if any confidence in either doing what is necessary to turn this mess around. But, at the moment, they are inclined to give the Republicans a shot, simply because the Democrats have been so lousy.
Another “indicator” poll. Expect the media’s full court negative press to continue unabated. We now know more about Mitt Romney than we’ve ever known about the President of the United States (of course that’s partly because Romney has actually run things and done things prior to running and has an actual record to examine).
Meanwhile voters seem inclined toward the Republicans, but not such that anyone in the GOP should get arrogant or cocky by any means. This is all touch and go at the moment.
But here’s a key which is hard to ignore, speaking of Obama’s “popularity”:
The Democratic brand has thus suffered more (down 39%) under Obama than the Republican brand suffered under either of George W. Bush’s two terms (-16%, then -31%).
Democrats have reason to be worried.
Missouri Representative Todd Aiken made one of the most ignorant and foolish statements of the year concerning rape and abortion has quickly spread across the nation.
Full stop. That’s the story. There’s little if any real debate that what he said was uninformed and ignorant.
For the most part, the right has condemned and disassociated themselves with Aiken’s statement. Many have ask him to step down (I say that’s up to the voters of Missouri – if they want to punish the man, they can do so in November). He’s likely given Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill another 6 years in the Senate.
There’s no avoiding the fact, at least for honest people, that what Aiken said was abysmally ignorant and not at all supported by science. One has to wonder where in the world he got such an idea (and why he’s seemingly held it for so long).
But what has me torqued about the incident is nonsense like this:
Two top officials from the Family Research Council said the Missouri congressman is the target of a Democratic smear campaign and chided those Republicans who have condemned Akin.
Connie Mackey, who heads the group’s political action committee, said the group "strongly supports" Todd Akin.
"We feel this is a case of gotcha politics," Mackey told reporters in Tampa, where the Republican National Committee was gathering ahead of the party’s convention next week. "He has been elected five times in that community in Missouri. They know who Todd Akin is. We know who Todd Akin is. We’ve worked with him up on the hill. He’s a defender of life."
"Todd Akin is getting a really bad break here," she added. "I don’t know anything about the science or the legal implications of his statement. I do know politics, and I know gotcha politics when I see it."
Gotcha politics? This wasn’t a case of “gotcha politics”. This was ignorance that caused an unforced error. Had he simply stated his opposition to abortion for any reason, he might have taken some heat from the other side, but it’s a stance he’s had for the 5 terms he’s been in Congress and it’s no big deal, politically.
But he chose to elaborate on the point with this faux-scientific nonsense about the body knowing if it is “legitimate rape” (instead of some playfully rough sex one assumes) and disallowing any chance of pregnancy.
The right, even the pro-life right for the most part, threw up their hands and said, “whoa, sorry, we can’t support that because it’s just not true”.
Except for the boobs above. Instead they “strongly support” Aiken.
Really? How!? By flinging equally uniformed political poo and looking like total fools? Even Aiken doesn’t support what Aiken said (given his apology):
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins fired back at Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, a leading moderate voice in the GOP who called Akin’s remarks "outrageous" and encouraged him to drop his challenge to Democrat Claire McCaskill.
"He should be careful because based on some of his statements there may be some call for him to get out of his race," Perkins said of Brown. "He has been off the reservation on a number of Republican issues, conservative issues I should say. His support among conservatives is very shallow."
Mackey said that Republicans calling on Akin to apologize or drop out should get "backbone."
A “backbone”? The kind of blind and ignorant backing they call for is what causes many to call GOP the “stupid party” (of course it’s not the only reason). One has to be an ignorant ideologue to support such a ridiculous call. And that’s precisely what Perkins and Mackey portray themselves as (and call for the rest of the party to emulate).
One final thing – again social conservative issues, which aren’t even on the public’s political issue radar screen, are being forced to the front and tripping up Republicans. This sort of nonsense allows the left to dictate the topic du jure and avoid the economic elephant in the room.
Refusing to acknowledge the stupidity of the statement and throwing down on those within the GOP who’ve condemned it only prolongs the stupidity surrounding the incident and hands the left what it wants – distraction.
But that doesn’t matter to unthinking ideologues, does it?
As Dale points out in the podcast, while the election polls have yet to reflect it, the atmospherics of this election don’t bode well for Obama. For instance, you have huge crowds turning out for Romney/Ryan events and you have the Obama campaign trying out “we purposely limit crowd size” on the media to excuse the comparatively paltry turnouts they are experiencing. And then there’s the Newsweek cover story by Niall Ferguson telling Obama it’s time he hit the road. It is almost like Newsweek is attempting a return to legitimacy by distancing itself from Obama.
Another indicator, much like the Gallup issues poll in which Obama had a 36% approval rating on the economy, is a Washington Post poll concerning the size and intrusiveness of government.
Call it a mood poll if you wish. But again, taken with all the other polls, it does indeed begin to outline the “atmospherics” surrounding the election. In this poll, a good majority of those polled said that government was both too big and too intrusive … not to mention way to expensive. CNS has the story:
The poll asked: "Would you say you favor a smaller federal government with fewer services, or larger federal government with many services?"
Among all those polled, 55 percent said they wanted a smaller federal government and 40 percent said they wanted a larger federal government.
Among just the registered voters in the poll, 58 percent said they wanted a smaller federal government and 37 percent said they wanted a larger federal government.
The poll also asked: "Do you personally agree or disagree with the following statement. Government controls too much of our daily lives."
Among all those polled, 60 percent said they agreed and 39 percent said they disagreed. Among just the registered voters in the survey, the results were almost identical, with 60 percent saying they agreed and 38 percent saying they disagreed.
CNS points out that the Washington Post analysis says:
“… [T]he results show a deep partisan divide in America. "Partisan polarization presents a potentially insurmountable barrier to governing for whomever wins the White House in November."
Funny how the percentage of those who are for a larger and more intrusive government are at about the same percentage as the Democrats in the poll (35%). So if it is “partisan polarization”, it would seem that the Democrats are losing the battle. It would seem that the big middle is headed to the right.
Now we all know it’s easy to say you want smaller government with fewer services when it costs you nothing but an answer on a poll. And we also understand that most people are fine with real cuts, as long as they effect someone else’s benefits and not theirs. But that doesn’t change the fact that the mood of the country is inclined toward smaller and less intrusive government.
And that doesn’t bode will for big government Democrats – like Obama.
It’s not a poll, but it certainly is an indicator:
Across Florida on Wednesday, President Obama’s campaign scheduled 53 field events to register voters. Last weekend in Virginia, there were at least 78 such events — typical of drills in the past several months on behalf of the incumbent Democrat in the battleground states that are likely to decide the Nov. 6 election.
But a Globe analysis of voter registration data in swing states reveals scant evidence that the massive undertaking is yielding much fresh support for Obama.
In stark contrast to 2008, when a strong partisan tailwind propelled Democratic voter registration to record levels, this year Republican and independent gains are far outpacing those of Democrats.
In Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Colorado, and Nevada — tossup states where direct election-year comparisons could be drawn — the numbers are striking. Democratic rolls increased by only 39,580, less than one-tenth the amount at the comparable point in the 2008 election.
At the same time, GOP registration has jumped by 145,085, or more than double for the same time four years ago. Independent registration has shown an even stronger surge, to 229,500, almost three times the number at this point in 2008.
Whistling past the graveyard:
“The fact is, there are currently many more Democrats registered in battleground states now than there were before the 2008 primary campaign began, which means there are fewer eligible voters left to register because of the gains we made in 2008,” campaign spokesman Adam Fetcher said in an e-mail.
“We have largely preserved the huge gains we built in 2007 and 2008 and increased our advantage in some areas, while Republicans have failed to make significant gains despite having the primary to themselves this year,” he said.
Support for “whistling past the graveyard”:
Jan Leighley, an American University professor of political science with a specialty in voter turnout, sees merit in the Obama camp’s explanation. “To say ‘We did a lot in 2008 and we’re not going to repeat those numbers in terms of a percentage increase’ is a legitimate point,” said Leighley. “Registration is not the endgame; the endgame for the campaign is to get people to the polls,” she said.
Reality? It’s about enthusiasm. It’s about motivation. Clearly voter registration enthusiasm (which will likely produce actual voters) is up on the side of Republican efforts.
Secondly, it seems the Democrats are prepared to totally ignore what happened in 2010. Guess who made “significant gains” then? Claiming that 2008 gains have been “preserved” is just that, a claim. It certainly didn’t prove itself true during the midterms did it?
Add to that the huge crowds turning out to see Romney and Ryan and the large number of Democratic politicians who’ve decided to skip the Democratic convention and you begin to see a picture that the left is desperately trying to paper over.
To date it’s been an attempt that mostly gets fussy about word usage, but my guess is it will get more pointed:
Gov. Romney is talking nonsense. Bipartisanship requires that you not make up the facts. I did not ‘co-lead a piece of legislation.’ I wrote a policy paper on options for Medicare. Several months after the paper came out I spoke and voted against the Medicare provisions in the Ryan budget. Governor Romney needs to learn you don’t protect seniors by makings things up, and his comments today sure won’t help promote real bipartisanship.
That’s obviously in reaction to a statement by Romney in which he talked about legislation, not a policy paper.
So Wyden is right, the quote is incorrect.
But Wyden is being a bit disingenuous too. You don’t vote for parts of a budget so claiming you voted “against the Medicare provisions” of a budget are a bit of nonsense as well. Democrats voted against the entire Ryan budget, the Medicare provisions being only a part of that.
Even Think Progress has some problems with the attempted delinking driven by the inconvenient politics of having a Democratic Senator’s name on a plan that Democrats have chosen to mischaracterize and demonize:
The plan Sen. Wyden co-authored with Ryan does bear a striking resemblance to the proposed Medicare changes in Ryan’s latest budget for the House GOP. Both keep traditional Medicare as a kind of public option, in an exchange where it would compete with private plans offering insurance to seniors. The government would give seniors support for purchasing these plans, and that support would be benchmarked to the cost of the second-least expensive plan. The plans would also be prohibited from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions.
Where they begin to differ is Paul supports more market based solutions while Wyden wants government based solutions.
But this sort of linkage is inconvenient when you’re claiming the GOP ticket is “trying to end Medicare as we know it” (even though it is ObamaCare which is pulling $700+ billion out of Medicare). Avik Roy has the “bottom line” on that meme:
The bottom line: if Romney and Ryan leave you the option to remain in the 1965-vintage, fee-for-service, traditional Medicare program, and you claim that Medicare has “ended as we know it,” what you’ve really ended is the English language as we know it.
The point? Ron Wyden did indeed “co-author” a Medicare plan with Paul Ryan. There’s no question about that. And it was indeed a bipartisan plan, by definition. In fact the paper is entitled “Bipartisan Options for the Future” and lists both Wyden and Ryan as the authors.
Finally, their plan contains this paragraph:
We are a Democrat and Republican; a Senator and a Representative; senior members of our respective Budget Committees; and members of the committees that have jurisdiction over Medicare and health care costs. As budgeteers, we understand the difficulty presented by demographic changes over the next several decades. As members with policy oversight, we recognize and encourage the potential for innovation to improve care and hold down costs. And most important, as representatives of hardworking Americans in Oregon and Southern Wisconsin, we realize our absolute responsibility to preserve the Medicare guarantee of affordable, accessible health care for every one of the nation’s seniors for decades to come.
Sounds like a pretty bipartisan effort to me.
Here’s the problem for the Democrats. They need badly to demonize Paul Ryan as an extremist who is out to push granny over the Medicare cliff and end Medicare as we know it. That’s because “Medicscaring” seniors is a tried and true method of gaining votes, and Democrats know it. They’ve deployed it many times in the past.
And bipartisan cooperation? No way, no how, can’t let that sort of thing become public knowledge when you have an active campaign beginning to label Ryan as an extremist ideologue.
But the facts don’t support that sort of branding campaign. Not only has Ryan not attempted in any form or fashion to end Medicare, he’s teamed up with a liberal Senator to put forward a plan to actually save it (even while the loudest critic is pulling that $700+ billion from the program via ObamaCare) and make it sustainable.
That is why Wyden is trying his best to delink from Ryan. And you can imagine from whence the pressure to do so is coming. But it’s a hard sale to make when his name is clearly associated with Ryan’s on a plan he claimed will “preserve the Medicare guarantee of affordable, accessible health care for every one of the nation’s seniors for decades to come”, isn’t it?
Not that it will stop them from trying.
It means the Democrats are facing a strong ticket with the announcement of Ryan as the VP nominee. It also finally focuses the ticket where most Americans want it focused – the budget, the size of government, the economy and jobs.
For Mitt Romney the selection of Paul Ryan is about as strong a choice as he could have made. Ryan has an intricate knowledge of the budget and budget process in Congress. That will be a critical skill in the next four years for an administration to have. In effect, Ryan will become the defacto administration budget expert (dare we say “czar”) for the Romney administration and give that administration a level of expertise unknown to most past administrations.
Romney is a “turn around” guy. He knows how to turn ailing businesses and the like around. The combination of Ryan and Romney is and should be compelling to most Americans.
For critics of Romney’s “conservatism”, the addition of Ryan should cool their angst and shore up the conservative base. Ryan is more of a Tea Party conservative (i.e. fixed on fiscal conservatism rather than social conservatism) but that is the sort of conservatism which is going to attract the most non affiliated voters.
Our fiscal house is broken and in bad need of repair. This is a team with all the credentials to do that, or at least begin a positive effort to do that (I doubt that it can be fixed in 4 years, but a lot of progress can be made in that time).
And, of course, that means trouble for the Obama administration, whose record is anything but compelling and whose leadership has been anything but inspiring. Ryan, therefore, must be “destroyed” in a political sense. So in the name of “vetting” – something that was never really done for our present president — we will see all sorts of wild stories and opinions flying around concerning the new VP pick.
I’m not sure any of that will matter much though. Why?
Well, there are indicators seem to be pointing out a momentum shift that polls aren’t showing yet (we discuss that on the podcast). A half-full fundraiser for Obama in his home town of Chicago vs an enthusiastic crowd who packed a Romney/Ryan rally at a furniture store in North Carolina. Or the turnout at this event:
Earlier in the day, Romney and Ryan campaigned at the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C. The Hickory Daily Record reported that the two were “greeted by thousands.” A Romney campaign official told TheDC that an estimated 4,700 people showed up, with 1,700 people inside the event and 3,000 outside.
If the Obama campaign isn’t worried, then they are even more insulated from reality than I thought.
Fundraising is another indicator that all is not well in Obamaland. Romney, even without Ryan as the VP pick, has been consistently bringing in more campaign donations. And not by a little. He’s been crushing the Obama effort. That may be the truest indication to this point of how far the Obama brand has fallen. Donors don’t like to back losers. Indications are that the choice of Ryan will only exacerbate that problem for Obama.
So Paul Ryan means even more trouble for an already troubled Obama campaign.
What should we expect, then? A full-court press by the left and as dirty a campaign as you’ve ever witnessed. The Obama campaign and its media surrogates and pundits are going to be in attack mode from now on. In fact, just peruse some of the stuff already out there today. Expect it to get worse. The “Palin treatment” is called for because … because it worked the last time. I would guess, however, that Ryan may be equal to the task ahead and perhaps turn that treatment back on those who attempt to apply it.
In the meantime, we have the opportunity over the next few months to actually discuss the most important and compelling issues facing us as a nation – if the media will let us. Unfortunately, they usually focus on the horse race after picking sides. And we all know whose side they were shamelessly on last go-round.
So I expect stories like this vs. stories about budget, spending and employment. I expect, given the abysmal Obama record to see continued attempts by media surrogates to distract rather than inform or discuss relevant and important topics.
But then, that seems to be American politics today. What’s surprising is how the left has managed, since the 2010 election, to pretend they never happened and that they’re back in the happy days of 2008 again. I see a lot of “whistling past the graveyard” among them. I see them and the media ignoring some pretty bold indicators that they’re in deep trouble. And I hope they continue to do so.
Look, an economy that’s banging along the bottom of a recessionary dip and an unemployment rate seemingly stuck at about the 8% mark (or 14% if you’re looking at the U6) are not something any president wants to run on and, they’re certainly not something I’d assume he’d be keen about discussing.
If Romney/Ryan will focus and force the debate about those issues without letting the Obama campaign successfully distract and divert that debate, I think they win. And I think Paul Ryan is a strong enough personality to make that happen.
That is what his nomination means. And that means big trouble for Obama.