Monday, July 18, 2011

Ryan and Resentment

I don't think that Paul Ryan is running for president; I really don't think he'll ever run for president. But if he does, he sure has the resentment thing down cold.

I wrote about Ryan and the budget process today over at Greg's place, from an interview that Ryan did over at NRO, and I didn't complain about the other stuff, but it really is awful:
Indeed, in almost every sense, Ryan says, Obama has been “fundamentally un-presidential” throughout the summer, “dragging his feet, failing to address the looming debt crisis — which he knows is coming — because he remains committed to his ideology.”
“This is, unfortunately, the way he operates,” Ryan says. “This is his pattern of behavior, this is his personality. For the next 18 months, it will probably be like this. It’ll be in-your-face class warfare, with bitter appeals to envy, fear, and anxiety, plus the demonization of the other side’s motives.”
This is whiny, crybaby, thin-skinned crap. "In-your-face class warfare"? Never happened. "Demonization of the other side's motives"? Find me a quotation, in context; it had better be at least as good as Ryan's claim that Obama is deliberately willing to inflict harm on the nation in service of "ideology."  "Bitter appeals to envy, fear, and anxiety"? In Looking-Glass Land, only -- the one where inventing a "looming debt crisis" doesn't count as a scare tactic, but discussing the obvious consequences of not raising the debt ceiling does. Or, in which voting to transform Medicare into a voucher program constitutes supporting Medicare, while not doing that counts as destroying it.

Ryan is apparently still upset, or still pretending to be upset, that the president attacked his budget a few months ago with Ryan present, which is apparently some sort of new ultimate sin against the politeness gods. Whatever; I'm sure that had Ryan not been present, then that would have been the new ultimate sin.

Hey -- Republicans are free to use whatever spin they want, no matter how petty it may be. But why anyone should take seriously a standard in which Ryan claims it's impossible to work with Barack Obama because of "the president’s 'very personal' criticism of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at the White House," while meanwhile it's fine to call Obama "fundamentally un-presidential."

I'd say, by the way, that calling Obama condescending in his recent press conferences and other remarks -- not just to Republicans, but to Congress in general -- would be a lot closer to the mark. The president has definitely been playing the role of the Only Adult in the Room, and calling him on that would, in my view, be entirely reasonable and fair.

Perhaps Ryan and the other Republicans don't want to do that because, after all, they actually are ceding that ground to him. Or maybe they're honestly having a tantrum because they honestly think that their policy preferences and actions should be exempt from criticism. I don't know; I don't, I suppose, really care. I'm just annoyed that I have to listen to it.


  1. Wow. I haven't seen you this pissed off since the Giants were starting Glenallen Hill.

  2. The man could not field his position. At all. Or get on base.

  3. "I do think Mr. Ryan is sincere. I think he's a patriot. I think he wants to solve a real problem, which is our long-term deficit. But I think that what he and the other Republicans in the House of Representatives also want to do is change our social compact in a pretty fundamental way."

    President Barack Obama, April, 2011

    That's the most demonizing I could find.

  4. " upset, that the president attacked his budget a few months ago with Ryan present, which is apparently some sort of new ultimate sin against the politeness gods. "

    What was the point of Obama inviting Ryan to attack his plan in public with Ryan present? I think it was dumb of Obama because it would embitter people who Obama would have to bargain with later in the year. I see nothing wrong with Obama's attack speech by itself. I think it was stupid that he launched his attack at a function with GOP members sitting in the audience with TV cameras rolling.

    I am not a Ryan fan. I think by having the House GOP vote to cut Medicare and lower taxes on the wealthy he has damaged his party's prospects in the next election.

  5. This is how politics is played today -- that Ryan has provoked so much resentment in Jonathan may actually be a sign that he’s doing it right.

  6. I agree on the Republican whining, but it has gotten some legs in the msm with Obama being mean (or a d**%) to the poor Republicans. If that is the strategy, maybe it works a bit.

  7. It is also how the Republicans keep the pendulum swinging to the right. No matter how far the Democrats move to the right, call it the far left and class warfare. No matter how presidential Obama acts, call it un-presidential. No matter how much Obama tries to compromise, call him "demonizing of the other side." I has worked pretty darn good for them for the last 30 years.

  8. @Mercer---Obama had two options: invite Ryan or don't invite Ryan.

    If he didn't invite Ryan, Ryan and his colleagues could be upset---or pretend to be upset (for our purposes it doesn't much matter)---that Obama had "disrespected" Ryan by not granting him the simple courtesy of an invitation (whether or not Ryan chose to attend).

    Obama chose Option #1---he invited Ryan and Ryan accepted. Ryan and his colleagues then got upset---or pretended to get upset (again, for our purposes it doesn't much matter)---at what Obama said.

    Which they have every right to do. It's just annoying (at best) behavior by people who are (or are supposed to be) professionals at what they do.

    P.S. FWIW, Obama's seeming preference for confronting his opponents face-to-face (e.g., the televised health care "summit" and his appearance at the House Republican "retreat" last year) is consistent with the teachings and practices of the Gamaliel Foundation (where he worked as a community organizer briefly in the 1980s).

    Gamaliel (and other similar organizing networks) have a preference for "doing public business publicly". Whether it's from his organizing background or from other experiences he's had, Obama seems to have the same preference for (and, I would argue, skill at using) the carefully timed public confrontation as a tool for advancing one's interests.

  9. Reread Ryan's complaints with the knowledge that he is thinly revealing aspects of his own pathologies but is too juvenile to come and say so. You'd be surprised how many people on the right do this, out in the open, accusing Democrats of class warfare, playing Mediscare, rigging elections with phony voters, screwing over the middle class, not caring about the troops, and the like.

  10. Michael Savage referred to them as "Red-diaper doper babies". Years earlier Morton Downey Jr. called them "pablum puking liberals". Sorry to confess those characterizations of whiny babies on the left were occasionally guilty pleasures for me.

    As Limbaugh replaced Downey on the radio, so has his corporate Republicanism replaced Downey's gut-level rants. One surely doesn't need to listen to the corporate right-wing media to know how far Ryan's "Obama is a mean old meanie!" whine will travel in those channels. Rather depressing.


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