Wednesday, August 15, 2012
what the Ryan pick means
And all the pieces are in place.
First off, as far as the horse race goes, the raw politics of it, Romney picking Ryan confirms that President Obama's team won the summer.
Which means exactly as much as winning the first half of a basketball game. If winning the first half meant eventual victory, the New York Knicks of the mid-nineties would have been a dynasty.
This means that the President's team outcoached the Romney crew. Romney's strategy of don't get specific and keep talking about job loss and "I'm a business guy" was their one play and the Obama camp ran good offense painting Romney as Mr. Burns from the Simpsons without any of the laughs and the media and Mitt himself kept the cyborg weirdness storyline alive, so the President started pulling away in the states and with the demographics that are actually going to decide this thing.
So Romney and Co. had to throw out the playbook and throw something different at them. When they realized they were getting beat they started complaining about "garbage politics" and how the President was demeaning the office by...campaigning, I guess. A sure tell that one side is losing is when they start complaining that the other side is playing dirty. You never see a winning team whining to the ref.
The larger meaning of the pick is that we have a chance at an actual, interesting, meaningful election.
Think of the foolishness of the Bush/Kerry race and the surface noise of the Obama/McCain contest. If it hadn't have been for the complete economic meltdown right at the end there and if McCain hadn't have said "the fundamentals of our economy are sound" (which is a perfectly reasonable and sensible thing for a candidate to say), it could have easily gone the other way. It was all about optics and emotion that year, with the nuance and depth of a high school Homecoming King race.
Ryan now defines Romney, which speaks to the weakness of Romney more than anything else. And the definition is "radical conservative economic policy".
I haven't gone through the Ryan budget, just seen all of the highlights they flash on the screen when the pundits are jabbering about it. And since I've promised not to revert to talking points or lazy assumptions when writing here, (curse those late night, whiskey-fueled promises!) until I get some time to study it, I'll avoid judging it.
But a couple of things are clear.
It's an extreme document.
It's extreme and, in my view, dangerous and wrong-headed not because of any of the details but solely on it's premise.
Our country is not a business. We do not have to balance our books every year, or in fact, ever.
Now that's got to get somebody writing in.
Also, it doesn't tap the easiest and fairest source of revenue.
Which would be corporations and rich people, Bob.
So, you've got two deeply moderate guys, the President and Romney, standing on either side of a Big Debate:
Great Society vs. Gilded Age.
Keynes vs. Friedman.
Watered down, half-serious, old-time liberalism vs. Wild West dogs eating dogs, everyone else eating the poor.
Could get interesting.