Thursday, April 21, 2011


You think you know the reaction out in the heartland to the Paul Ryan brand of economics. You've seen the poll numbers:

In a McClatchy-Marist poll released this week, 70% of registered voters who identify with the Tea Party opposed making cuts to either Medicare or Medicaid....

And you've seen that video:

VIDEO: Paul Ryan Booed At Town Hall For Defending Tax Breaks For The Wealthy

But Jeff Zeleny, who's on the Beltway Conventional Wisdom beat for The New York Times, is here to tell you that none of that is relevant, because Paul Ryan is a superstar in the making -- although he's also a plucky underdog working tirelessly to show those who aren't in his fan base (yet) how brilliant he is:

Ryan, Pushing Budget, Resists Talk of Higher Office

CLINTON, Wis. -- Representative Paul D. Ryan was deep into an explanation of his deficit reduction plan, which sits at the heart of a contentious debate between Republicans and President Obama, when he called on a constituent raising her hand in the front row of a town meeting here.

"We need a viable Republican candidate for president," pleaded the woman, Nancy Champion, a retired schoolteacher. "Will you run against him?"

Oooh! Ahhh!

Mr. Ryan grinned, blushed

Blushed! Be still, my fluttering heart!

Mr. Ryan grinned, blushed and promptly tried to change the subject, telling his audience: "She's not related to me. She wouldn't say that if she was." But no, he added, he does not intend to join the Republican nominating contest and try to run against Mr. Obama.

He simply wants to debate him....

If Mr. Obama delivers his argument with all the presidential polish of a Broadway show, the presentation by Mr. Ryan is closer to an act on the community theater circuit as he hits 19 town meetings over the course of a two-week Congressional recess....

And on and on it goes. Ryan isn't the suit who sashays in from the head office of Koch/Murdoch Enterprises Inc. to impose a new regime of cutbacks, givebacks, and mass layoffs, he's plucky David drawing a bead on Barack Goliath.

And the people love him! We're told later about his roadshow, "he received far more praise than grief."

Really? What about that clip?

Well, the audience reaction is fine as far as it goes -- but why is the atmosphere at this gathering so polite and civil and sleepy? DougJ, looking at the poll results cited above, writes:

When seniors swarm Republican town hall meetings, they'll be portrayed as angry America-haters....

But nobody's "swarming" anything. There are no angry mobs, inside the hall or out. There's barely any anger at all. How do we expect to beat these guys if we can't manage to get furious crowds out to every stop on Paul Ryan's tour? How do we expect to get the Jeff Zelenys of the world to publish something other than focus-grouped GOP spin?


Mr. Ryan is making a counter case -- tax cuts are needed to stir economic growth, and Medicare is on an unsustainable path -- as he travels through towns like North Prairie, Delavan and Clinton, population 2,162.

... He draws applause when he explains that Medicare would not immediately end for older citizens and that the plan would affect only people younger than 55.

So, see, it doesn't matter that even teabaggers oppose what Ryan wants to do, because he's convincing the populace that he really doesn't want to do what you and I know he actually does want to do.

We need more people like the guy who challenges Ryan in the clip -- a lot more. We need them loud. We need them angry. Or we lose again.

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