No Guts, No Glory: More Commentary on the Ryan Pick

Statement from the Obama campaign:

“In naming Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has chosen a leader of the House Republicans who shares his commitment to the flawed theory that new budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors, will somehow deliver a stronger economy. The architect of the radical Republican House budget, Ryan, like Romney, proposed an additional $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, and deep cuts in education from Head Start to college aid. His plan also would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors. As a member of Congress, Ryan rubber-stamped the reckless Bush economic policies that exploded our deficit and crashed our economy. Now the Romney-Ryan ticket would take us back by repeating the same, catastrophic mistakes.”

My thoughts: I don’t think Paul Ryan is the new Sarah Palin. He’s not going to self-destruct the way Palin did. However, I think the Obama campaign is smart enough and aggressive enough to take the fight to the RR campaign, and keep them on defense. And recently Dem leadership has gotten much, much better at message discipline.

Ryan’s presence on the ticket helps the Obama campaign focus on what a Romney administration might actually do, which ought to scare the stuffing out of most Americans. So far, Romney’s arguments for himself are all warm and fuzzy and soft-focused promises about how he’s going to make it all better, with the unspoken subtext that we’re supposed to just trust him on how he’s going to do that, because he’s not going to tell us. He’s not going to be able to get away with that any more, with Mr. Cat Food standing next to him on the podium.

I doubt very much that Ryan was Mittens’s original choice, even though he and Ryan appear to think very much alike. But the GOP establishment appears to have put him on notice that it would be Ryan or else. They probably want to run Ryan for president in 2016, and which they could reverse the ticket now.

Steve Kornacki:

The most important thing to know about Mitt Romney’s running-mate choice is this: It’s not the move he would have made if the campaign was going the way he hoped it would.

Until now, the Romney strategy has been relentlessly single-minded. He’s had no interest in articulating or embracing specific policy proposals and has generally shied away from saying or doing anything that anyone might find at all unsettling. More than any other candidate in recent history, he’s strained to be generic, someone positioned to serve as a protest vehicle for swing voters who are inclined to vote President Obama out….

…But the generic strategy isn’t working for Romney, or at least it doesn’t seem to be. The Ryan pick represents a new approach: Make the campaign about a Big Idea – in this case, the radical reimagining of tax policy and spending priorities that Ryan has proposed in the name of deficit reduction. Whether Romney now runs specifically on Ryan’s budget blueprint or some revised version of it doesn’t really matter. For the rest of the campaign, he and his running-mate will be answering for the social safety net cuts, Medicare voucher-ization and steep tax cuts for the wealthy that Ryan has called for.

Steve Benen:

In any presidential election in which there’s an incumbent, there’s a larger fight about whether the race is a “referendum” or a “choice.” In 2012, Mitt Romney obviously wanted it to be a referendum — if you’re not satisfied with the status quo, replace President Obama with a generic Republican. The tack helps explain why the GOP candidate has been so vague on so many issues.

As of this morning, Romney’s strategy has been thrown out the window. Paul Ryan wrote a right-wing budget plan, which redistributes wealth from the bottom up, and which guarantees voters will be presented with a very clear choice in the fall, not a referendum.

Indeed, it’s not unreasonable to think the entire election dynamic will be turned on its ear — voters will be asked to vote, not on Obama, but on the far-right Romney-Ryan vision.

On the other hand, I’m hearing that Ryan really is a good campaigner and quick on his feet in a debate, so the Obama campaign is going to have to stay smart to make this work for them. And much of the news media will be working very hard to portray Ryan as “serious” and “bold.” But I’m feeling pretty good about November right now.

20 thoughts on “No Guts, No Glory: More Commentary on the Ryan Pick

  1. “[T]he GOP establishment appears to have put him [Romney] on notice that it would be Ryan or else. They probably want to run Ryan for president in 2016[.]”


    And it’s terrifying that the conservative wave has risen so high.

    Ryan is worse than Goldwater and Reagan.

    Their dreams are his, but he intends to live them.

    And his party aims to help him do that.

  2. This is too kind, by the way.

    “. . . Ryan, like Romney, proposed an additional $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, and deep cuts in education from Head Start to college aid. His plan also would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors.”

    They are not planning to end Medicare as we know it and turn it into a voucher system.

    They are planning to end Medicare altogether and replace it with a wholly inadequate system of tiny vouchers for old people who will have to buy their own insurance from State Farm, Mutual of Omaha, or whoever will sell it to them, at whatever price they demand.

    Not the same thing and the difference is huge and important.

  3. I also feel pretty good about November – until I remember how much in puppy love most of the MSM is with this “serious” man. And how they paint him as some intellectual wonk, who’s given his plan a lot of thought before presenting it to the public.

    They fawn over “Privatizing” Ryan’s Plan, without going into any details, so it’ll be up to Obama, Biden, and the rest of the Democrats to fill-in the dots on this sociopathic serial senior killer.

    I think, now with a little more discipline than I’m used to seeing, the Democrats are up to the challenge.

    This election went from a referendum on President Obama, which is what Mitt wanted, but couldn’t do because of his own personal history, to one on the Ryan/Romney plan- something he wanted to nuance until after he was elected.

    It’s a battle between real choices.

    Let’s hope the American people can choose wisely.

  4. As further evidence that Mitt had this choice thrust upon him, TPM is reporting that he’s already running away from the Ryan budget, and that the press release that went out this morning includes mealy-mouthed wordage about how Mitt “will be putting together his own plan”, and how he’s running with Ryan, not on the Ryan budget.

    Yeah, right.

    And didn’t Mitt already claim to have his own plan? What’s with this “will be putting together” nonsense? Can’t they keep their own nonsense straight anymore?

  5. In much the way that McCain’s choice of SP shifted all the focus to SP, I hope the same happens here with Ryan. It’s almost inevitable, given Mitt’s penchant for vagueness.

    Ryan reminds me a bit of Goldwater, in the sense that both men were completely unabashed about their conservative beliefs – which is their appeal to conservatives – but we all know what happened to Goldwater. I too am feeling better about November – this is truly a gift on a platter for Obama, I hope he and his ad people can make the best of it. And the fall debates could really be Joe Biden’s moment of glory, I hope he’s up to it.

  6. WOW! I just watched the video of the announcement on my TiVo, and the visuals were quite interesting. Ryan so outclasses Mitt. No wonder Mitt flubbed and said “Join me in welcoming the next President of the United States.”

    When they introduced Mitt, the music swelled with this ridiculously “Presidential” fanfare like something from the ‘West Wing’ opening, but Mitt had to descend the stairs from the deck of the USS Wisconsin, which he did cautiously and then walked, with short, tight steps, a bit slack-shouldered, to the podium. The contrast between the body language and the boldness and strength of the music made me laugh out loud.

    By contrast, Ryan trotted to the top of the ramp above the stairs, walked down it with shoulders back while waving above his head to the crowd, descended the stairs like they were nothing, and walked toward the podium waving and with a confident smile, standing tall. The man knows how to make an entrance, and now the music, which seemed like a joke for Romney, fits, and Ryan’s intro seems like the arrival of an astronaut, or some other fit, young, confident hero.

    He looks good. Probably too good to share a stage with Romney. And if he doesn’t get permanently painted by the Democrats as the Medicare-ending Grannie-starver, he’ll be a threat in 2016.

  7. I’m pasting in a comment (from a Linda Ginsberg) left at the excellent Charles Pierce column in the prior thread:

    While my political acumen isn’t even in the same universe as Mr. Pierce’s I think this is a desperation move by Romney. Polls have been showing that he has been steadily losing ground to the president (and if the Republican convention is the loon-fest I think it will be he will be even farther behind after it). So his choice is to go all in with the extremists and solidify their support (that will get them to come out) and make sure that the despicable vote suppression laws are rigorously enforced. I said in an earlier post that this has the potential to be 1964 (minus the Southern states) all over again. And I now make a formal request to the Democrats for an economic version of the Goldwater daisy ad.

  8. Ryan’s got a lot on him, if you want to run against him. The Budget being the biggest, but also some pseudo-Nazi town hall meetings where people were arrested for not agreeing with him. And he was charging to get into them for awhile. His Dad died when he was younger, but he then used Social Security to get himself through college. So, the SS is good for me but not for thee meme should start very soon. His CD was gerrymandered ten years ago to get rid of Beloit, and make it a much stronger Rep seat (though Kenosha is in there, which is solid blue). But presidential campaigns are about presidents, and Mitt just isn’t a strong enough candidate to unseat the prez. Ryan will not give the bump to make that happen.

    As for 2016, I’d LOVE to see a Ryan vs. Hillary battle royale. It would be one for the ages. And finally, at long last, our first Woman President.

  9. Another, relatively minor advantage is that Ryan rhymes with both lyin’ and buyin’.

    If you believe the White House is for buyin’
    And don’t mind a whole bunch of lyin’
    And don’t care that the planet is fryin’
    But hate to see blastocysts dyin’
    Then you’ll vote for Romney and Ryan!

    Well, it could use some work, but you get the idea.

  10. Hi, we’re the new management. There are going to be some “changes” around the factory. See that pile of envelopes over on the table and the security guards?

  11. Unfortunately, it is not all about Obama (good or bad).

    If we cannot get a filibuster-proof Democratic majority in both houses, we are dead meat. Yes, Obama is necessary, but not sufficient.

    And I do not see the push to accomplish the rest of the necessary, yet. We’ll see.

  12. Forgive me, but I post again someone else words, this time by “MileHiDem” over at HuffPo:


    A tiny faction of Indy voters approve

    The Right Wing NUTS approve

    It’s so beautifully EPIC in it’s failure, I want to faint.

    OBAMA 2012

  13. Romney did one thing. He changed the narrative. The boring white guy he promised as VP would not have provoked that change. For weeks, Obama kept the pressure on for Mitt to release his tax returns. Mitt refused and now he can’t if he was willing to, becase he would seen to be publicly caving in to Obama. And Mitt was sinking in the polls as one article after the next speculated about what is in Mitt’s tax returns. Mitt could not go onto MSM interviews to do an etch-a-sketch for moderate voters without repeating -again – that his taxes are nobody’s business but his.

    So tomorrow, none of the talking heads will be talking about Mitt’s taxes. Mission accomplished. The new question is how high a price Mitt will pay for a change in the conversation. And the BIG question has to be over the congressional reverse coattails. I just invented a new political term. If Obama can make Ryan and the GOP budget toxic waste in the presidential race, will the disgust with reverse Robin Hood carry over to Congressional contests and cost the GOP some elections? If the Ryan plan hadn’t been voted on in the House and Senate, probably not. But the GOP incumbents have signed the Ryan plan in blood. So the issue has relevance across the board.

    Is there a web site we can send Mitt a thank-you note? I can’t wait til November.

  14. yes, the narrative has changed. will Obama use it? that’s yet to be seen. i like neither Obama or Rmoney/Ryan. this does focus things on the Medicare/Social Security topic, which had been ignored so quietly. Tax returns? is that gone now?

    maybe we shall see some Democrats stand up and defend Social Security finally. after all Obama offered to cut Social Security during the Budget Hostage fiasco.

    will anyone defend Medicare and Social Security for the 99%. now we get to see who says what.

    what a wonderful way to get some answers about Social Security and Medicare. Mitt the Robot was ordered to do something, anything to “get” the base stirred up, and this may be the way. Rile up the Greed and Envy of the Ignorant Masses to get out the vote. you know, get rid of the Muslim Kenyan Usurper.

    so now it’s up the Demcorats and Obama. very interesting move.

    • yes, the narrative has changed. will Obama use it? that’s yet to be seen.

      If you (dare I say it?) might stop listening to the pre-recorded tapes in your head and pay attention to what actually has been going on, you might have noticed the Obama campaign already is hitting back at the Romney pick, hard and directly.

      will anyone defend Medicare and Social Security for the 99%. now we get to see who says what.

      Have you been asleep for the past several months? Do try to keep up.

  15. “But the GOP establishment appears to have put him on notice that it would be Ryan or else”

    I would argue that team Romney orchestrated all the wing-nut media demands for Ryan, that way it looks like they are giving the baggers what they want. It’s not a genuine gesture it’s just more Romney being Romney.

    • I would argue that team Romney orchestrated all the wing-nut media demands for Ryan

      Hmm, I don’t see it. I don’t think Ryan is the choice he would have made if he were not losing ground in the polls. From what I can see Romney is no ideologue, but he does like to be the guy in charge. By choosing Ryan he is conceding that the “movement conservatives” own his ass. And I don’t see how appearing to cave in to the wingnuts helps his squishy image.

  16. The pick I most feared was Connie Rice – she would have had a strong moderate appeal. She’s conservative, but breaks with orthodox doctrine on some social issues – she would have brought loads of international cred.

    This selection is comfortable for Mitt – but by selecting a clone of himself, Mitt adds nothing to the ticket. Mitch Daniels (I think) is from OH – a pivotal state – Rubio was the most popular with the base, also from a battleground state. Mitt is still going to loose WI – he hasn’t added any segment of voters that he did not have.

    Did the powers-that-be want a DC experienced ringer in the WH? Maybe. But I stick with my original guess – Mitt pulled a ‘Palin’ – he had to do something spectacular to revers the momentum get everyone talking about ANYTHING except his taxes.

    I remember that when the economy tanked and so did McCain’s numbers, the GOP Senator suggested he and Obama suspend their campaigns to return to Washington. Obama did not agree to shut down a campaign that was winning. (Duh!) The Ryan-Romney ticket has suggested that from now on the debate will be on big issues – the economy and catfood for Grandma – not small issues like Romney’s taxes. Obama needs to reply that in dealing with Iran – all options are on the table – in the election all ISSUES are still on the table. Nobody has forgotten that Romney is avoiding the questions surrounding his personal taxes.

  17. Barbara – I completely agree that if Mitt was not sinking in the polls, he would have selected a boring white guy who would not take the spotlight from Mitt. There’s also an argument to be made that this is all about money – that deep pockets guys will cough up HUGE amounts of money for an Ayn Rand zealot who won’t compromise just to save the country. There is the question whois really the top of the ticket 🙂

    Underneath all that is the assumption that an additional 300 million in SuperPAC contributions whose sources can remain secret will allow Mitt to buy public opinion. Can a lie – repeated often and VERY LOUD – overcome the truth? To some folks, it all boils down to cash – Obama outspent McCain by 200 million – so if Mitt and his buddies outspend Obama by 500 mill – that should be enough to convince weak-minded voters. This campaign may test whether cash alone is enough to buy the White House. If I am right, huge sums of superPAC cash may be what Romney bought with his VP pick.

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