Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Passing (Or Failing) the June Test

The thing to remember about Eddie Haskell is that he never, ever, not even for a second, fooled June Cleaver. We all knew that; Wally knew it, too.

Which brings us too the latest adventures of Paul Ryan -- and of (some members of) a press corps, Dave Weigel reports, who entirely fail the "June test" and are reporting that Ryan is an uberWonk because he uses...wait for it...PowerPoint. And because he included a few pie charts.

Weigel passes the June test. So does Kevin Drum. Paul Krugman, too. Sort of. Krugman says that Ryan "very clearly doesn’t know what his numbers actually mean," but I don't think we have evidence of that; we know that he's comfortable using phony numbers, but that doesn't mean he doesn't realize they're phony. Eddie surely knows he's putting on an act for Wally's mom, after all; that Eddie grins like an idiot when June is around isn't evidence that Eddie is an idiot.

(I don't remember: did we ever see Eddie's act fool anyone? Teachers, maybe? I'm certainly not going to be upset at having a reason to go back and re-watch a few episodes...).

Meanwhile, Ed Kilgore -- who certainly passes the June test -- raises the point that with Ryan forced to keep his "Eddie" mask on for the duration of the campaign, he risks harming his reputation with those who like the other Eddie, the one who comes out when the grownups aren't around (the one, that is, who doesn't hesitate to play along with the crudest ACA myths). While that's possible, my suspicion is that the real threat to Ryan's future isn't that he has to play along with Mitt Romney during the campaign. Kilgore uses the example of Jack Kemp to argue that Ryan could be hurt, but I suspect that Kemp's problem may have been more that his interests really did diverge from mainstream conservatives. Meanwhile, the examples of Richard Nixon in the 1950s and, more recently, Dan Quayle would seem to point the other way; while Quayle never recovered from national ridicule, conservatives never really help George H.W. Bush's various sellouts against him.

The real danger to Ryan is if his constituency outside of the party, the non-partisan budget hawks and the press, wise up. In other words, it's not his mask that he's wearing for this campaign, but his long-term Eddie Haskell act that people outside the GOP have bought that's at risk with his high-profile national campaign.

Well, that and one other thing: Ryan also convinced the Wally Cleavers in the House Republican Conference to vote for all sorts of unpopular things, including those Medicare cuts they ran against in 2010, and which they're presumably getting hit for on the campaign trail now. I mean, Wally never really liked Eddie all that much, but Eddie never gets him into real trouble, does he? If the elections wind up going worse for House Republicans than they expect, and the budget gets some of their blame, you do have to wonder whether they'll trust their Eddie next time he comes up with some cool idea for them.

10 comments:

  1. Have to admit, I had a tough time following this, partly because keeping track with "long term Eddie Haskell act" and "Eddie masks" and such. Sorry.

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  2. I've never even seen the show, so it doesn't really work for me.

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  3. To hear tell from a colleague here who used to work for multiple Republican White Houses and who worked with Kemp when he was running for vice-president, Kemp wasn't a good candidate. Didn't bother to do the prep. Couldn't muster the energy to care at events. So no matter what his interests were, the national campaign exposed him as a lesser light.

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  4. As a guy who watched plenty of Leave It to Beaver growing up (my Dad was half Ward Cleaver, half Homer Simpson), I really appreciate this post.

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    1. Really glad that someone has heard of this stuff; as I just said over at twitter, I'm sad that we're squandering our precious national cultural heritage.

      Personally, as a father, I've always tried to emulate some combination of Cliff Huxtable and Jake Morgendorffer.

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    2. Wait..."emulate?" Are you actually Eddie Haskell as a parent?

      :)

      (Sorry, couldn't resist)

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    3. Personally, I'm still trying to picture "half Ward Cleaver, half Homer Simpson."

      (By the way, I think I saw Eddie Haskell in a commercial recently. Given that it's been 50 years, he hasn't changed that much.)

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  5. Keep at it, you'll harpoon this cursed beast yet, my friend! ;-)

    "Aye, aye! and I’ll chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the Norway Maelstrom, and round perdition’s flames before I give him up. And this is what ye have shipped for, men! to chase that white whale on both sides of land, and over all sides of earth, till he spouts black blood and rolls fin out. What say ye, men, will ye splice hands on it, now? I think ye do look brave."

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  6. Apparently Romney and his people call him Gilligan.

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    1. Is that because Romney reminds them of Thurston Howell III? I think the Eddie Haskell analogy works much better. Gillian didn't comprehend some of the really dumb things he did. And the impact of his stupidity was negligible. Mr. Ryan/Haskell on the other hand, knows exactly what he's doing. And he's well aware of the damage his ideas will have if brought to fruition.

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