Friday, April 06, 2012


The New York Times employs Paul Krugman and a fair number of other people who see through the right's economic con game. Unfortunately, the Times also employs James B. Stewart, who just wrote the following about a certain GOP golden boy:

This week, President Obama called him a social Darwinist. The conservative Club for Growth criticized him for wimping out on Medicare and military spending, and Ron Paul, the libertarian Republican, blasted him for not cutting tax rates more drastically.

I figure Paul D. Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who is head of the House Budget Committee, must be doing something right.

Shoot me, please.

This is how the Overton window works for the GOP -- move the discussion as far to the right as you can, but as long as there's someone further right than you (or at least willing to play further-right bad cop), voila! You're a centrist! (It could never work that effortlessly for Democrats, because anyone on their far left is automatically a crazy radical communist. Hell, anyone in the center is automatically a crazy radical communist.)

But I was talking about James B. Stewart. He is, if you hadn't guessed, a pathetic dupe, easily gulled by Ryan:

As I pointed out a few weeks ago, Mr. Ryan's tax plan, which calls for lowering top rates to 25 percent and 10 percent, would actually raise taxes on the ultrarich, since on average they, like the wealthy presidential candidate Mitt Romney, pay substantially less than an effective tax rate of 25 percent....

Yes, Stewart did point that out. He also pointed out that he had no idea what tax rate the Ryan plan intends to apply to capital gains and dividends and "carried interest" -- all of which are currently taxed at 15% (which is basically why Mitt Romney's tax rate is so low). Oh, but Stewart assumes that Ryan is an honest man who really, really must mean to adjust the rates on these to a level that would constitute "loophole closing." (In fact, in Ryan's "roadmap" last year, taxes on capital gains and dividends were eliminated altogether.)


Paul Ryan is a menace in large part because everyone in the Village apparently likes him. Stewart spoke to him and concluded that "he seemed anything but the polarizing figure that many of his most vocal critics have tried to turn him into." Stewart spoke to Blue Dog Democratic congressman Jim Cooper of Tennessee, who told Stewart twice how much he likes Ryan. And Ryan is really expert at making conciliatory noises, while shifting blame in a way the gullible don't even notice is nakedly partisan:

"There's a bipartisan consensus on most elements of what needs to be done," Mr. Ryan said, "and there are a lot of Democrats who agree with me, maybe not in all respects, but on the broad approach. Unfortunately, that doesn't include the president or the Senate Democratic leadership."

This shiv-in-a-velvet-scabbard approach really works on Villagers. Which is why I think the following is going to happen:

* Mitt Romney is going to pick Ryan as a running mate.
* The Obama campaign is going to attack the Ryan budget in ways that jibe with the public's perfectly understandable concerns about Ryan's approach.
* Obama's going to win.
* Paul Ryan is going to become a Village martyr, mourned as the guy who was unfairly maligned and destroyed by the vicious, rabble-rousing, demagogic, hyperpartisan, no-compromise Obama campaign. Village scribes will wave the bloody shirt of Romney/Ryan's loss, turning Ryan into what Che is for some lefties and Andrew Breitbart for some wingnuts, a martyr who spoke truth to power and was destroyed for it. (And Ryan won't even be dead!)

Obama will be the evil partisan who divided America. He'll get a second term, but he'll go into it loathed by the Beltway as well as by Republicans.

Gosh, I can't wait.


Danp said...

I can't believe Republicans still get away with the baby bear porridge logic. Sometimes when everyone thinks you're an idiot, it isn't because you're perfect.

Phil Perspective said...

"Tangled Webs: How False Statements are Undermining America"

Yes, that's the title of a book Stewart wrote, per his little NYT bio. Shoot me now!!

Robert M said...

This makes perfect sense to me. It is McCain/Palin all over again - a candidate not trusted by conservatives moving to the right in the general to prove himself to them, and demonstrating in the process his utter lack of judgment.

Ten Bears said...

When all these folks talk simply to hear themselves talk I am reminded that m'g'da used to admonish "it is better to keep your mouth shut and let folks think you are a fool..."