Tuesday, September 4, 2012

But When He Talked To Me, He Said...

Hey David Brooks -- I heard that the word "gullible" isn't in the dictionary...

The Simpson-Bowles section was more of the same. I’ve interviewed Ryan many times and I’ve never heard him utter sentiments remotely like that. He doesn’t believe in their approach because he doesn’t believe it fixes the Medicare problem. Yet there he was in the biggest speech of his life pretending he thought it was God’s gift to policy making. Paul, sometimes you just have to put your foot down and tell the campaign you won’t do it.
Well, no, David Brooks, I'm sure that when Paul Ryan talked you you, he was careful to give you a version of his budget views that just happened to match the David Brooks view of the world. Imagine that! But as Jonathan Chait mentions today, when Ryan talks to other people he gives, well, different answers. Here's Chait in February with an extended quote, noting that Ryan "isn't letting go of his Obama-ignored-the-deficit-commission talking point" -- in other words, it was already something Chait had noticed before that. I found a couple more....here's Ryan in April praising Simpson-Bowles and bashing Obama for ignoring it. If you pay very, very close attention you'll realize that Ryan is just being slippery here; he supports bits and pieces of S-B, which sort of misses the point of a deficit reduction package, but that's sort of the point; the Ryan we saw in Tampa didn't need anyone to tell him to be slippery and misleading about budgeting. For a bit more, here's Gene Sperling later in April hitting Ryan for pretending exactly what he pretended in Tampa.

So, in fact, Ryan has "utter[ed] sentiments remotely like that" all the time; it's part of his standard talking points that he's been using all year, maybe earlier.

Now, Brooks is correct that Ryan absolutely opposes Simpson-Bowles. Although it's almost certainly the case that Ryan's real problem with it was tax increases -- seriously, if S-B had recommended deep cuts to discretionary, non-defense, spending, but nothing on Medicare and no new taxes, is there any doubt at all about whether Ryan would have supported it? I didn't think so. It's just that opposing S-B hasn't prevented him from nevertheless scoring points with credulous budget hawks by blaming Obama for its demise.

More broadly, Chait is exactly right about Ryan. What's really happened here is that you can just get away with a ton of stuff as a Member of the House that you just can't get away with in the same way as a national candidate. Sure, Ryan got what seemed like a fair amount of attention after Republicans won the House in 2010, but it's on a totally different scale. It was easy, then, and even easier before then, to just see what you wanted in him. Put it this way: even if June had been foolish enough to be fooled by Eddie Haskell when he did his act for her, there's no way she would be fooled if she got to see him the rest of the time.

Although I suppose she could just figure that Lumpy Rutherford was behind it all and forcing Eddie to abandon his true self that she saw every time she spoke to him. But then again, June Cleaver is no David Brooks.


  1. This isnt' fair, the definition of a politican is someone who is always telling you what you want to hear. Or rather, hints and nudges of what you want to hear without actually saying it.

    Another way to frame Paul Ryan is Not Ready for Primetime.

  2. Actually, the habit of falsehood, even when it is to no apparent purpose, is just that ... a habit. It is based on a political life that, for the most part, cannot survive without a large measure of dishonesty. This may seem harsh, until you consider the core argument that is central to the Republican case:

    President Obama should learn to take responsibility, and stop blaming those who actually did this to us.

    Try selling that without any deception.

    1. Sweet insight. It lines up with the blame game going on, things like the GM plant closing, FY 2009 federal budget blame, etc., as well.

      It's almost as if the invisible man in the chair had a connection to the invisible president at the convention, George W. Bush.

  3. Well, Paul Ryan's budget plans have actually made it through at least one of the houses of Congress, which is more than we can say of Obama's.

    So let's review. Obama accepted NOTHING from the commission he commissioned. And his budgets are overwhelmingly rejected in Congress. And the Left thinks this is somebody ELSE's problem, namely Ryan? Huh?

    Have Obama's budgets even received any votes these past few years, from anybody? ;-)

    1. The problem for Democrats voting for Obama's budgets is that the budgets include things that Republicans will attack them for in the next election. People may screw up the courage for risky votes if they believe it will make meaningful improvements to the situation, but there's little reason to do it if the other side is going to block the outcome anyhow.

      Obama has made proposals that are essentially similar to the Simpson-Bowles plan, including his deal with Boehner last summer and his proposal to the supercommittee. Ryan rejected those, too.

    2. Obama's "proposals" were presented to Congress, and rejected overwhelmingly, with basically ZERO votes.

      He's provided nothing, and the lefty Senate hasn't passed a budget in 3 years, Obama's or their own.

      And this is all Ryan's fault somehow? That's just bizarre.

    3. The Senate may not have passed a "budget resolution" in three years, but that doesn't really mean much. There is a budget.

    4. With no names/votes attached to detailed line items, thus providing the cover and camoflage you seemed to celebrate in your earlier post.

      I.E., no budget, even though such is required by law.

      So the Left is too cowardly to stand up for what they believe in, and they also unanimously vote down Obama's budgets in the Senate.

      And this display of public policy cowardice is all Paul Ryan's fault somehow? Huh? Ryan's got a detailed budget out, passed by the US House. What has the Left got besides obfuscation and "He's a lying racist"?

    5. Budget resolutions don't have detailed line items, and they're not required by law. I didn't "celebrate" anything in my earlier post, and I never called Ryan a racist, although he does lie quite a bit. Obviously, trying to engage with you is a waste of time.

    6. You're not engaging, you're obfuscating.

      Detailed budgets DO require detailed line items, and detailed budgets ARE required by law. The Left is too cowardly to do what is required by law and sheer moral governance, as we see.

      You celebrated the obfuscation and camoflage of NOT voting for those detailed budgets.

      And somehow, for the Left, all this failure to govern responsibly is Paul Ryan's fault? The only guy who HAS actually got his name on a detailed budget, that's passed the House? Ridiculous.

      I'll ask again. What is it that the Left is yammering here other than "Ryan is a lying racist"? I haven't seen anything... certainly not a detailed budget.

    7. Oh wait, it's the whiny Anonymous again.

  4. This is a great example of how personal biases and agendas that can influence how politics is covered in the media far more than any sort of partisan or ideological bent. That is David Brooks is incredibly vulnerable to flattery and seems to be rather lazy as he never follows up about claims people tell him. So if you want Brooks to swoon of you or your ideas, just suck up to him and pretend you think just like him and he will write about how great you are again and again. Because he wants to write about how you think like him and why that way of thinking is the hallmark of true genius. Anyway, yet another example of why you shouldn't read Brooks.

    On a larger level, I'd urge everyone to check out JB's recent Salon column about how quickly Ryan reputation has been going downhill. It is quite amazing. Especially since guys like Chait and Krugman have been writing about how Paul Ryan is a fraud for years now. Finally, its catching on.


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