So how has week 1 gone for Ryan-Romney? Yes I should put Romney first but hey, it's Ryan's budget.
What we've learnt is that he does not want to get bogged down in details. Mind you that's not what the word was from the Republican paper of record was this morning-the WSJ editorial page.
There they are tying themselves into knots to convince us to deny our lying eyes. In Review & Outlook, there was a little op-ed "The Mediscare Boomerang" with the subtitle: ObamaCare gives Republicans a chance to win Medicare debate."
There was another op-ed claiming that the Republicans can win a debate over Medicare by Kimberley A. Strassel, "Why Republicans Can Win."
She had the words "Obama Cut $716 Billion From Medicare" in bold with a wheelchair underneath. This was a still shot from Romney's Medicare commercial.
She thinks that repeating "$716 billion in Medicare cuts by Obama" offers a path to victory. She sites a poll that suggests seniors are more afraid of Obama's "cuts" to Medicare than the Ryan plan to privatize Medicare. Of course this poll was from Rasmuessen. This is a fellow who's a naked partisan who has declared that Romney will win this election.
Ie, is predictions are about as scientific as Karl Rove's in 2008 that McCain would win or for that matter Dick Morris who never gets anything right yet still keeps making more and more prognostications.
She then declares this of Obama: "He's not thrilled by the Ryan pick, oh no. He fears it."
At this point Ms. Strassel has given away to nothing but Republican revelry. Her column is called Potomac Watch but she might as well call it Potomac Fantasy at this point, if she honestly believes that. Then she finishes of with this paragraph that inadvertently shows how much trouble Mitt Romney has really gotten himself into:
"This fear,, fundamentally changed political landscape, does not guarantee a Republican victory. But what it does promise is that if the Romney-Ryan ticket stays on offense-if it can fight to a draw on entitlements and leverage the powerful economic argument-then it has every shot at the White House."
WSJ, 8/17/02, pg. A9. Regrettably I couldn't access the link so I'm forced to write it word for word from the paper which strikes me as so prehistoric.
The key in this piece is the words "stay on offense" to be able to "fight to a draw on entitlements." This comes right out of the RSCC playbook it put out after the Ryan pick. She's literally following the RSCC talking points. The worst part is "fight to a draw" on entitlements. Basically the idea is that the Romney campaign wants to get back to bashing the President over the economy.
But it can't until it fights Obama to a draw on entitlements. Actually she broke the RSCC guideline by even using the word "entitlements." But the Romney campaign has already had one lost week if it's goal is to get back to the economy. At some point.
The plan this week has not been hard to grasp. The idea is to keep flagging the "$716 billion in Medicare cuts" line as well as claiming that no President has ever done this before. The fact that it isn't true, the serious Paul Ryan isn't sweating.
But this strategy requires not getting too deep into the weeds. Romney's whole campaign until now had been based on the idea of not getting bogged down in details. Now that's it is is doing. This the view of Romney strategists:
"if you hoped that Romney’s selection of Ryan was going to touch off an epic war of ideas — maybe even with Ross-Perot-style charts and graphs — you’ll be badly disappointed."
“What you’re going to see is a campaign that has clear direction, but not a Simpson-Bowles or Ryan-budget level of detail,” the Romney adviser said. “It’s not only politically unwise to do that, but it’s not how the voters engage in a presidential campaign.”
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79814_Page2.html#ixzz23okhuefn
It's politically unwise because getting into the Ryan budget in any detail is a loser.
"Ryan’s ecstatic conservative fans seem to presume that the liabilities of the Ryan plan are confined to Medicare, and that further explicating its details will make Americans warm up to the approach. Neither premise is remotely correct. The entire ideological concept of the proposal — the supply-side premise that tax cuts for the rich are vital to growth, that fiscal sacrifice must be born entirely by domestic spending, that expanding the role of private insurance in Medicare will necessarily create vast improvements — is utterly rejected by most voters. Politically, substance is not Romney’s friend. It’s his enemy."
Indeed, I don't think it's possible to totally appreciate just how bad Romney has outsmarted himself here. He's now married to a script which optimally gets him a tie then enabling him to get back to the economy. It wasn't like he was able to have that discussion before Ryan-he kept getting bogged down in why he won't release his tax returns and the vagaries of his business career and his general inability to connect with Americans.
Now he has to go through this elaborate food fight over Paul Ryan's Medicare privatization scheme just to get back to where he was before the Ryan pick.
Bill Burton who runs Obama's Super-Pac says that while the Obama team wanted to hang the Ryan budget on Romney all along it had been an uphill fight. People simply refused to believe he really supported it though he had endorsed it a more than a few times:
"Burton notes again in a recent memo "when told that Romney supported the Ryan plan, many voters simply did not believe it." The goal of the attacks on Romney's biography was to make attacks on his plan plausible — to convince voters Romney is the sort of person who would cut social programs to clear budgetary headroom for lower taxes on the rich. If the goal of the Ryan nomination was to escape a losing argument about Romney's business career, then he has ducked the jab and walked right into the haymaker punch."
Nor does it seem that the Romney-Ryan plan to just keep on repeating "Obama cut $716 billion in Medicare!" is necessarily fooling anyone. Many in the media are talking about Romney-Ryan's descent into budget gibberish.
Ryan fell on his face in his first interview on Fox News-for God's sake. I know, Brit Humes is a liberal ideolouge. Judging by Ryan's flop on Hume this is going to be a long Summner for Ryan-Romney.
"After watching the verbal contortions Mitt Romney has put himself through in the last week when speaking about Paul Ryan’s budget plan, it has become impossible to take seriously anything he has to say."
It also took only 5 days to questions about Romney's tax returns to come back to the fore. It's hard to really say the Ryan pick was wrong. It did change the subject. At the end of last week Romney was literally begging the Obama team to agree not to discuss his tax returns and business career-the business career that was supposed to be the center of his campaign.
If it had been Portman he probably wouldn't get much of a change of subject. But again, the point of the personal attacks were to make the attacks on his policy more plausible. By putting Ryan on the ticket, there's no way to deny that a vote for Romney is a vote for the Paul Ryan budget-ie, the end of Medicare.