In American national politics, it doesn’t get much more extreme than Paul Ryan, or the Ryan-Romney budget. That’s reality. Mitt Romney taking on Ryan as his running mate is like Barack Obama taking on Bernie Sanders or Dennis Kucinich. The Ryan-Romney budget is one of the most extreme policy proposals in the history of our country, as extreme as the PATRIOT act or the Alien and Sedition acts– wartime legislation that drew on national panic. Romney’s purported strength is that he’s a moderate technocrat, a can-do businessman who will use his fiscal prudence and New England moderation to help get our national house in order without, you know, letting New Orleans get swallowed by the sea or accidentally invading Turks and Caicos. This is, of course, bullshit; Romney is neither a moderate nor a technocrat nor a fiscal conservative nor a particularly skillful executive. The Ryan nomination is merely the coup de grace, the last confirmation that Romney is an extremist beholden to a mad, extremist wing of a mad, extremist party. This is not business as usual; this is arch-conservatism by any measure.
The question is whether our media will tell the truth about this extremism. If Obama was actually to nominate Sanders or Kucinich, our political media would report on it as if the President had personally sodomized Lady Liberty while reciting The Communist Manifesto and paying children to go gay. Romney’s nomination of the even-more-extreme Paul Ryan has mostly been met with observations about Ryan’s good looks and his supposed seriousness and “wonkiness.” In the war for the Presidency of 2012, one of the key battles will be over this issue exactly: will our comprehensive failure of a new media tell the truth about the extremism of Romney, Ryan, and the Ryan-Romney budget? Will those of us opposed to Republican extremism be able to call a spade a spade and spread the word about the Romney ticket’s ultra-conservative policies?
Today we get William Saletan, Slate’s Official Correspondent on You’re a Slut and I’m in Charge of Your Uterus, waxing orgasmic about Paul Ryan. Ryan, you see, is the way a Republican “should be.” I take it that part of the point here is that those mature, centrist types like Saletan believe that we’re best served if our politicians fill predetermined roles based on vague and artificial standards, as if choosing elected officials is no different than a casting call for some shitty movie. So, you see, what the Republic needs is not for the party that is correct on the merits to succeed; what the USA needs, instead, is for someone to fill the role of Meta-Republican. That this is a vision of politics that should be reserved for children and imbeciles, I take as self-evident, but it’s almost entertaining to see someone lay their dysfunctional political ethos out there. Hey, Billy– supporting politicians based on how well they’d play the role of generic Republican on The West Wing is fucking insane.
Ah, but the specifics! The details! For, indeed, Paul Ryan is a details man. (Except that he isn’t.) Let’s get to them.
“Ryan is a real fiscal conservative. He isn’t just another Tea-Party ideologue spouting dogma about less government and the magic of free enterprise.”
Why would a fiscal conservative support a budget that cuts tax revenues by $4.5 trillion dollars over the next ten years? Why would a fiscal conservative support the Iraq War resolution, which has cost us hundreds of billions? Why would a fiscal conservative support Medicare Part D? Why would a fiscal conservative propose a budget that keeps $40 billion in subsidies to oil companies, at a time when they are reaping record profits?
“He has actually crunched the numbers and laid out long-term budget proposals.”
Except that he hasn’t. This details-oriented, number-crunching fiscal conservative has neither laid out the details nor crunched the numbers… as Saletan himself admits.
“My liberal friends point out that Ryan’s plan leaves many details unclear. That’s true. But show me another Republican who has addressed the nation’s fiscal problems as candidly and precisely as Ryan has. He’s got the least detailed budget proposal out there, except for all the others.”
So, in other words, he deserves credit for laying out a comprehensive budget plan, even though he hasn’t laid out a comprehensive budget plan, because he’s a little more specific than his shiftless, cowardly compatriots. Ah, the soft bigotry of low expectations.
“Eventually, you can’t borrow enough money to make good on your promises, and everyone’s screwed. Ryan understands that the longer we ignore the debt crisis and postpone serious budget cuts—the liberal equivalent of denying global warming—the more painful the reckoning will be.”
See, liberals get all worked up about global warming and climate change denialists, but they are denialists when it comes to the budget. Gee, what does Paul Ryan have to say about climate change and the irrefutable scientific evidence about it? Oh, right. He’s another science-denying lunatic, an extremist of the worst kind when it comes to environmentalism. I really wonder what Saletan thought he was doing here; did he think no one would check Ryan’s record when it came to climate change?
“Ryan refutes the GOP’s bogus arguments, too. He proves that you don’t need private-sector experience to be a good lawmaker.”
In other words, his candidacy is an argument against giving Mitt Romney the presidency. Brilliant!
“He proves that a genuine conservative, as opposed to a Tea-Party ideologue, votes for bailouts when economic sanity requires them.”
When millionaire bankers need bailouts, that’s economic sanity. When we give senior citizens subsidized medicine so that they don’t have to choose between getting medical care and eating, well, that’s liberal treachery.
“Ryan also shows that a real conservative doesn’t worship any part of the budget, including defense. His expenditure caps can’t be squared with Romney’s nutty pledge to keep military spending above four percent of GDP.”
Facts are stubborn things, William. Does Paul Ryan support cutting the defense budget, as fiscal conservatism would require? He does not. As Politico’s Philip Ewing put it, “For all his reputation as a budget hawk, Ryan has been a dove when it comes to defense spending.” When Saletan suggests that Ryan supports cuts to the defense budget in the name of fiscal conservatism, he’s just lying. Straight up dishonesty, and no other word for it.
“And Ryan destroys Romney’s ability to continue making the dishonest, anti-conservative argument that Obamacare is evil because it cuts Medicare. Now Romney will have to defend the honest conservative argument, which is that Medicare spending should be controlled.”
Another argument against the man at the top of the ticket, and an ugly euphemism on the part of a rich, spoiled neoliberal like Saletan. “Controlling” Medicare spending here means slashing it at an epic level, forcing millions of our seniors to go hungry, lose their homes, or die of preventable disease. But I’m sure all of that seems like small potatoes to a man in love like Saletan, particularly for a wealthy man in love. Romney’s plan on Medicare is the height of extremism, breaking a promise to our elderly and our poor that this country has kept for decades. It’s despicable, and it’s despicable for Saletan to lionize it.
“This morning I heard Ari Fleischer say Ryan is a good pick because Republicans don’t want somebody who thinks and talks like an accountant. That’s exactly wrong. What’s great about Ryan is that he does think like an accountant.”
Except that accountants actually count things, and lay out every detail, and as we’ve already established (as Saletan has already established!), the Ryan-Romney budget does no such thing.
“So what? Screw the polls. Republicans will be on the right side of the spending debate. They’ll be on the right side of the substance debate, too. Instead of bickering about Romney’s tax returns and repeating the obvious but unhelpful observation that the unemployment rate sucks, we’ll actually have to debate serious problems and solutions. That’s great for the country.”
As anyone with the most basic understanding of our political shitshow knows, we’ll mostly have a substance-free political contest about the fact that Obama has a funny name (and he’s blackety-black) and who would you rather have a beer with. Please.
“I’m not saying Ryan is the nation’s savior. He has serious flaws. His discipline on spending isn’t matched by restraint on tax cuts.”
Oh, in other words, ever word you’ve just said is fantasy, and your basic argument is founded on bullshit? Thanks for telling us now!
“And unlike many of his colleagues, Ryan isn’t a wanker or a hater. He’s in it for solutions, not spite.”
Oh really? That’s funny. When the Human Rights Campaign gives a guy a 0%— zero— for his treatment of gay rights, I’d call that exactly being a hater. I’d call someone who favors the total criminalization of abortion exactly a wanker and a hater. I know that Saletan wants every woman seeking an abortion to come to his apartment so he can personally reprimand them and talk about what terrible slutty whores they are, but dude. Total opposition to abortion rights is the definition of being a hater.
“He’ll be the best kind of debater, open to criticism and amenable to compromise.”
Do you want to know why Tea Party America loves Paul Ryan, why he is the guy for the Republican base? Precisely because he is not a compromiser, precisely because he is an ugly, grasping extremist. You don’t get to be a bugle boy in the Republican army unless you’re on the lunatic conservative fringe, and this man was just given his stars as a general. Read what the conservative blogs say about him. They love him because he WON’T compromise, because he is thoroughly, enthusiastically ready to destroy this country and imperil its elderly, its children, its disabled, its poor, and its students in the name of his insane ideology. To call this man “open to criticism and amenable to compromise” is a statement of such total bullshit, such jaw-dropping, incomprehensible dishonesty, it makes me blush.
This is, truly, the stupidity that surpasses all understanding. Will Saletan has glanced around the political party and, spying a cute boy in the corner, projected all of his teenaged fantasies onto him, reality be damned. August is not yet two weeks old. Yet I will read no stupider piece, no grander statement of delusion and deceit, in the entirety of the 2012 Presidential election. Congratulations, Saletan; you’ve finally impressed me.