Such is the world of the Beltway, folks, where political fantasies and fantastical narratives are spun on a daily, hourly basis, the better to keep We, The People in the dark and irrelevantly stupid, and the corporate power structure overseeing both parties but mainly the GOP largely intact. Were Jefferson to be around today, surveying this scene of profane iniquity, he would say the time is ripe for revolution. He would be right.
The revolution may yet happen at the polls where and when voters cast their lot between a radical, extremist vision of government in the person of Paul Ryan and a mainstream centrist prescription in the shape of President Obama. The latter isn't fully satisfactory to progressives, but we've been on a pragmatic half-loaf diet for quite some time. Ryan's choice, however, while energizing the ONLY radical base of political extremism in America, the neo-fascist right (my term, and it's accurate, Beltway idiots!) was so troubling to SANE individuals that my 'favorite conservative', David Frum, once again reaffirmed our confidence in him by casting his lot with President Obama once he heard Ryan was the pick.
1. 'Like many Republicans, Romney has been genuinely radicalized since 2008.' Not even close. Romney is doing what he does best: rolling like a tumbleweed whichever way the wind blows.
2. 'Romney's camp shows he's not holding his base.' YES.
3. 'The donors demand it.' Don't the SuperPac donors want to win? Wait — they're radical right wingers, like the Koch brothers. Sheldon Adelson is the 21st century's Meyer Lansky. No matter who Mitt's Veep is, Adelson thinks his Chinese mob money can buy the win.
4. 'Romney imagines he can control Ryan better as VP than as Speaker.' C'mon David, don't be silly. Romney will let Congress take care of itself and sign whatever legislation Grover Norquist orders him to. He will kiss anybody's ass to get elected. That's as far as his 'strategic' thinking goes.
5. Romney crumbles under pressure. BINGO!
I'm with David reader Tom Doran on a 'sixth hypothesis':
A very prescient analysis. Shall we be realistic, not elitist here, and reiterate that one should NEVER underestimate the stupidity of the American electorate. Their capacity for manipulation (and by that I mean the so-called, clueless 'Independents' joining the wingnuts on the right) is boundless. Republicans have designed their electoral success and destruction of America's middle class around the electorate's in extremis self-destructive tendencies to vote against their (missing) enlightened self-interest."The more I think about it, the more the "pick Ryan because he's the best person to sell the Ryan plan" logic makes sense to me as Romney's rationale. Not that the plan itself makes sense - it's political leprosy - but Romney's calculus here has to be that he's already heavily committed to the plan and is himself the worst possible person to present it. Paul Ryan, as documented with hair-pulling frustration by Krugman, Chait and others, has successfully managed to play down the radicalism of his proposals in the eyes of the media. He comes across as a serious, pragmatic, decent, wonkish type rather than the Randian class warrior he is, which demonstrates serious political skill. Obviously I'd like to believe that this charade would be unsustainable under the glare of a total war campaign, but if he can pull the same trick on America that he's pulled on the Beltway, this could end up being very smart."
The thing to understand about Paul Ryan is that, first and foremost, he is an ideologue. And, as with every ideology ever conceived, its practical application from paper to concrete and rarefied pseudo-academic Ayn Rand cultism (from which Andrea Mitchell's husband Alan Greenspan emerged to become a leading protagonist in the economic savaging of the middle class, I should add) is a house of Tarot cards built on a foundation of lies. Mitt Romney is counting on Paul Ryan to fool the people the same way he has wowed the Beltway Media groupies.
Paul Ryan doesn't respond well to those who don't give him anything but googly-eyed adulation (expected from Chuckles and Russert, for instance) but some really tough moral pushback from, say, the Catholic Nuns is bound to unnerve him. His speech today was flat and uninspiring. And his most hypocritical line was this: "My dad died when I was young, and he was a good and decent man who said: "Son you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution."
How ironic. Back when Paul Ryan's dad died he took advantage of Social Security survivor benefits, at 16, to put himself through college. And we don't begrudge him that. Once part of the solution, bettering himself through the social compact we all share, Paul Ryan has become part of the problem, seeking to gut for succeeding generations the very same socialist program — not Ayn Rand, who was a notorious hypocrite in this regard, and not Atlas Shrugged — that placed him where he is today: One step away from the presidency.