Conventional wisdom is not precisely an oxymoron (time really does fly), but it is not infrequently moronic. The conventional wisdom that the Romney campaign wishes to create around Paul Ryan is one of rare courage and unusual intelligence and experience in budgetary matters – the GOP’s fiscal Brainiac for the Chinese (I mean Second American) Century, and now, too, a man of bipartisan largeness (so long as he isn’t confronted with cancerous progressive smallness). According to TPM this morning, The Most Fundamentally (© N. Gingrich) Dishonest Candidate Since Richard Nixon™ is on that theme already.
“This guy’s a real leader,” Romney told CBS News on Sunday. “He’s reached across the aisle. He’s worked with Democrats, Republicans. Tried to take on the toughest issues America faces.”
On the campaign trail in Florida Monday, Romney again praised Ryan for “working across the aisle” to find solutions to the nation’s problems.
The problematic reality?
In almost 13 years as a congressman, Ryan has proposed just two bills that have passed and become law, one of which involved renaming a post office in his district. It’s a low number by any standard, but particularly for a chairman of the powerful Budget Committee.
Statistics peg Ryan as a staunch conservative. According to the DW-Nominate metric, Ryan’s voting record makes him almost as conservative as Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and more conservative than Rep. Allen West (R-FL). By the same measurement, Ryan is the most right-wing member of Congress to be selected for vice president since at least 1900, according to data analyzed by the New York Times.
Ryan has also helped thwart bipartisan efforts at debt reduction, an issue he frequently touts as a top national priority. He attacked and voted against the Bowles-Simpson deficit plan in late 2010, which would have reduced the nation’s budget shortfall by trillions of dollars with a combination of spending cuts and new revenues.
But as we already know, the truth stands not in the way of The Most Fundamentally (© N. Gingrich) Dishonest Candidate Since Richard Nixon™.
Need more? Here is Ezra Klein:
I’ve got a modest proposal: You’re not allowed to demand a “serious conversation” over Medicare unless you can answer these three questions:
1) Mitt Romney says that “unlike the current president who has cut Medicare funding by $700 billion. We will preserve and protect Medicare.” What happens to those cuts in the Ryan budget?
2) What is the growth rate of Medicare under the Ryan budget?
3) What is the growth rate of Medicare under the Obama budget?
The answers to these questions are, in order, “it keeps them,” “GDP+0.5%,” and “GDP+0.5%.”
And from BuzzFeed:
Mitt Romney often attacks President Obama for his lack of business experience, but his own running mate has spent his life in government as a Congressional staffer and Congressman since graduating college. At a May event in Las Vegas, Romney enthusiastically told the story of man who proposed amending the Constitution to require all presidents have three years of business experience, a criteria that would disqualify his own running mate.
ThinkProgress shares with us, from among numerous aggregated Romney quotes,
I happen to believe that having been in the private sector for 25 years gives me a perspective on how jobs are created — that someone who’s never spent a day in the private sector, like President Obama, simply doesn’t understand.
Garance Franke-Ruta adds, at the Atlantic,
Mitt Romney said Sunday that Ryan’s “career ambition was not to go to Washington.” But Ryan did go to Washington, D.C., arriving as an intern in 1991 and spending the entire rest of his career here after graduating from college. As National Journal’s Rebecca Kaplan and Sarah Huisenga put it:
Ryan’s career path doesn’t quite gel with the image Romney projected in his speech. As a college student at Miami University in Ohio, he began serving as a staffer for Republican Sen. Bob Kasten. After graduating, he was hired as a speechwriter for Jack Kemp, then a congressman from New York. Ryan, who cited Kemp as a mentor at an event in Manassas, Va., on Saturday, went on to work for Kemp’s think tank, Empower America, and as a speechwriter on his vice presidential campaign in 1996. He also was a legislative director for then-Sen. Sam Brownback, now governor of Kansas.
Ryan ran for and was elected to Congress in 1998, and has been serving as a member from his Wisconsin district since 1999.
Now, too, and continuing, no doubt until Election Day, Romney’s VP hopefuls, including Ryan, answer that they were asked for “several” years of tax returns during the VP vetting process, to vaguely contrast not too much with the two only that Romney adamantly will not go beyond in revealing to the public. When the truth comes out – because now there are people who will not rest until they know – how uncertain it will turn out to have been what the meaning of “several” is. Almost like “is.”
And when the truth comes out finally about Romney’s taxes (vide supra), and John McCain is asked about this certification –
“I am absolutely confident that [Romney] … did pay taxes.” McCain told the Las Vegas Sun’s Jon Ralston during an interview set to air on his “Face to Face” program on Tuesday. “Nothing in his tax returns showed that he did not pay taxes.”
– we will be asked to note that it makes no reference to federal income taxes.
Jonathan Chait concluded that Ryan’s “public persona is a giant scam.” Noted Franke-Ruta,
there’s a big difference between manners and character, between ideologically rigid political posturing and a substantive commitment to the difficult work of creating positive change within a pluralistic and diverse democratic society. If people can no longer tell the one from the other it’s because we now live in an age, as Ta-Nehisi Coates has so memorably noted, where “where counter-intuitive bullshitting is valorized, where the pose of argument is more important than the actual pursuit of truth, where clever answers take precedence over profound questions.”
All political campaigning involves strategic and tactical presentation of a candidate’s ideas and policy proposals. It is not an Oxford Debate, and the terms of what is, in the essential analysis, a contest for power, are set as much by one’s opponent as by oneself. But Mitt Romney believes he can tell us anything one day and its opposite the next. He’ll call it fertilizer on Sunday, manure on Monday, and tell us on Tuesday, that’s right, it all depends on what you stick in it.
And he’s the seed, by golly.
He thinks we’re morons. Are we?
- The Most Fundamentally (© N. Gingrich) Dishonest Candidate Since Richard Nixon (sadredearth.com)
- The Other Paul Ryan (sadredearth.com)
- Glenn Greenwald’s Mitt Romney Surrogacy (sadredearth.com)
- Mourning In America (sadredearth.com)