TPM quotes the Zombie Eyed Granny Starver trippin’ balls again:
“We have an increasingly lawless presidency where he is actually doing the job of Congress, writing new policies and new laws without going through Congress. Presidents don’t write laws, Congress does,” Ryan said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Jonathan Bernstein rebuts (this flavor-of-the-month argument, if not Ryan specifically) in Obama’s Radical Adherence to the Constitution:
[…] at least so far, nothing that Barack Obama has done even hints at significantly upsetting the normal balance. Which doesn’t mean that he’s colored inside the lines every time; if he hasn’t, however, that’s what the courts are for (although Ornstein wonders if conservative judges will just wind up acting as partisans).
Still, as Ornstein says, overall “Obama is well situated in historical precedent to use his executive power.” Basically, it’s pretty simple. In broad outline, Obama can use executive orders and other executive action because presidents have always had the ability to do so. Claims to the contrary are either ignorant of the Constitution as it is written and as it’s been lived for over two centuries, or (in the case of those who clearly know better) just plain dishonest.
I don’t know why this lie, the lie of the Lawless Obama Presidency, pisses me off more than anything else that comes out of the Wurlitzer. Maybe because Cheney’s shadow government is still so fresh; maybe because it just plain sounds like incitement to violence, to revolt.
Either way, I’m calling bullshit.
A new study  by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation confirms [that] the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan would result in six out of ten seniors paying substantially more for the same Medicare benefits they receive today.
A pretty clear win for Biden, IMO, and one that effectively sewed seeds of doubt about Ryan’s readiness on foreign policy. Biden seemed to be full of facts–I wouldn’t be surprised if one of his goals was to simply rattle off more numbers than Ryan, which I would guess he accomplished quite easily. He was both tougher and more sensitive than Ryan, funnier and more aggressive. Damn near a command performance, really.
Ryan was…not nearly as bad as Obama was last week, to be fair. Very flat, I think. Biden, though, was much better than Romney was last week. And the format really revealed the limitations of Ryan’s communication skills. I kept noticing how aptly Biden was able to switch tone, pacing, and approach depending on the topic. Ryan, however, was monotonous. His tone was the same no matter what the subject was, whether he was talking about taxes, contraception or Iran, even when he was getting “personal” at certain points. Biden’s attacks on the “47%” comments were delivered in a very different manner from his discussion of his religion, while Ryan’s act was more of a drone (though my wife listened to the thing on radio and had a higher opinion of it than I did, for what it’s worth). The clenched jaw and occasional bug-eyes really didn’t make him look terribly composed either. Republicans desiring Ryan to be a future presidential candidate ought to be deeply concerned by this debate, which showed him to be an uncertain communicator outside his metier (fawning journalist interviews?), though these sorts of problems ought to be fixable with experience I suppose.
In any event, I must confess the thing was just what the doctor ordered. Let’s hope O can keep it up…I have a good feeling about the town hall meeting format.
Good post by Noah Millman, who asks what Republicans have to do in order to become a legit governing party again. He identifies some things that would genuinely augur improvement: the existence of a foreign policy debate, and a rejection of the “no new taxes” pledge for every single conceivable occasion.
I was thinking about this question, but the one I’m more interested in is a similar but different one: at what point does the GOP go from walking disaster to an entity that wouldn’t make me fear for the nation lest they win the presidency? What do they have to do just to merely suck, as opposed to having gone ’round the bend? And a few things occurred to me:
- Ryanism has to end. Let me be clear what I mean by this. I don’t mean Republicans have to support social programs forever to remain at their present funding levels and ways of doing business. I mean that Republicans need to stop with the bad faith that Paul Ryan has exemplified in his time as a national figure. Specifically: proposing a plan that would “end Medicare as we know it” by turning it into an unrecognizable system of diminishing-return vouchers while insisting that this would be essentially no different than the current system for the user. That is more than just “politics as usual,” more than mere shading or deception. That is misrepresenting your own views to pretend that they match with those of your target, i.e. bad faith. Other examples include bashing the president for having the same Medicare cuts as you have in your budget. Or bashing the president for not publicly backing the Simpson-Bowles budget plan that you personally vetoed as a member of the committee. This goes beyond fuzzy math or basic political word games and distortions–it is evidence that the party sees no particular need to be honest with the electorate or even with the interests in its own coalition. One could argue that Ryanism comes out of an inability to reconcile the demands of those interests. But the simple fact is that a party that acts in bad faith so regularly is one that cannot be trusted with power, and that tactic won’t take long to be self-defeating either. If other polls show Romney-Ryan tanking with seniors as this one does. People came to hate insurance companies in no small part because of bad faith practices that sought any possible loophole to avoid paying out claims. This one is a no-brainer.
- Major New Deal and Great Society programs must be accepted by the GOP on a fundamental level. Reforms of these programs can and should be offered by Republicans, but those ideas must be focused on making Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants, TANF, etc. (and eventually the Affordable Care Act) better, more efficient programs. That might well entail cutting spending–certainly, Medicare cuts need to happen if the system is to remain viable, and much waste has been removed from the program already. But cutting, say, excess Medicare Advantage payments makes the program more efficient and thus stronger. Vouchercare makes it weaker, less robust, less useful. Reforms offered by Republicans need to be conceived of with the mission of these programs as the top consideration. Which is to reiterate point 1–no more Ryanism.
- A rejection of some hard-line social issue positions because of their impracticality. I figure gay marriage will be an entirely unremarkable position to hold for a member of either party in ten years, with anti- sentiment confined to some pockets of the Deep South and Interior West. Abortion, probably not. I don’t expect Republicans to renounce the pro-life position, but I need there to be some nuance to their position on this. We couldn’t just ban all abortions, few want to and it would be bedlam. Women’s rights and health have to figure into the equation. And so on. Again, I’m not looking for an ideal party here, just some sense that they wouldn’t try to ban everything they don’t like if they got power.
There are others I could come up with, but those are the first that come to mind. Anyone have another?
Ezra has a great post on the relationship between President Obama and Paul Ryan here, but he gets carried away near the end:
Putting the Ryan budget at the center of the 2012 election has the tactical benefit of forcing Republicans to defend an unpopular proposal; more important, it has the long-term strategic benefit of potentially discrediting the Ryan budget as a political document. Prior to Ryan joining the ticket, a Romney loss seemed likely to strengthen the Republican Party’s conservative wing, because the defeat would be blamed on Romney’s moderate past. Now, if the Romney-Ryan ticket loses, it will vindicate skeptics of the party’s rightward shift, potentially strengthening the party’s moderates. That could produce a more cooperative opposition for Obama to work with in a second term.
But if Obama loses, Republicans will have won the presidency with a mandate to enact a deeply conservative agenda. Left to his own devices, Romney might have been a relatively pragmatic and cautious president. Instead, the Obama administration’s three-year effort to enshrine the Ryan budget at the heart of the Republican Party would prove to have been a crucial push toward enacting that budget into law.
Nonsense. I’ve come to disagree with this whole dichotomy. In fact, I think Romney might well have shown some real political intelligence with the Ryan pick, though I think it’s still probably a net negative. Why have I changed my mind, you might ask?
Because my assumption, which I think was the same as Bill Kristol’s and all these guys’, was that a Ryan berth would automatically mean a harsh, ideological campaign. Romney would have no choice but to run as a, well, resolute entitlement-slasher. After all, Ryan has more power in the GOP than Romney, and so on. The one fact I didn’t anticipate was that Ryan has been entirely willing to adapt to Romney’s style: being intentionally vague about his intentions on Medicare and other topics and launching hypocritical attacks on Obama for cutting Medicare, for starters. This talk about a new ideological campaign has, to this point, proven to be mostly bunk. And you have to give Romney credit here for reading Ryan correctly. Ryan might well have been able to throw his weight around on the ticket, but Romney must have realized that Ryan would go with his program, just as he did with Bush’s during the Bush years, and for the same reason: to attain power. Ultimately, while throwing his weight around might make some difference, it would wear out its welcome quickly enough and, after all, Ryan is his #2. Without influence on Romney, Ryan would merely occupy an almost comically powerless role should the ticket win. He would, ultimately, be stupid to do so.
But the real credit has to be given to Romney’s read of the pro-Ryan activists too. These activists pushed for Ryan to be on the ticket because they wanted an ideological battle. They saw these two things as inseparable, as did everyone else, so all they had to do was push the first and they’d get the second. Since Romney knew Ryan and was able to read him, he realized he’d be able to get the first without having to have the second. And, for the moment anyway, it’s working. Romney’s enjoying a pretty small bounce, but more importantly I’m not hearing the Romney bitching that had become so frequent in the past couple of weeks among Republicans. Even Chuck Krauthammer is following the company line and going after Obama for cutting Medicare, in the exact same way that Ryan wants to do, and one would have to believe that attacking this with so much profile is going to make it awfully hard for them to turn around and go all vouchercare on the public. You know, in the same way that Obama’s attacks on McCain’s plan to end the employee tax deduction made it impossible to go after, and thus harder to find funds for HCR. Republicans don’t appear to realize that they got the running mate they wanted, but not the ideological battle they wanted, that their tactic was a success, but not the strategy. My guess is that, in a few weeks after the glow fades and the conventions end, the people who pushed Ryan will realize what happened and will be furious, and we’ll hear calls to “unmask Paul Ryan” and the like. One can only hope…
Which is not to say it’s a brilliant pick–Ryan’s plan is pretty darn unpopular, and I suspect the power of the message of downballot Dems running against Ryan will be strong enough to negate a bunch of ads attacking “spending” over a black and white picture of Obama. But maybe Mittens isn’t quite as dumb as we thought.
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