Paul Ryan: 2012′s Goldwater?

May 25th, 2011 at 8:41 am David Frum | 47 Comments |

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I used to worry that Sarah Palin would be the Barry Goldwater of 2012. My bad. Paul Ryan is the Barry Goldwater of 2012.

The Goldwater effect continues on this morning after the NY-26 debacle. Henry Olsen of AEI, as smart a political numbers guy as can be found on the political right, crunches the numbers to compare the performance of the 2011 special election candidates with the district-wide performance of all other GOP and Democratic candidates in 2010. He finds:

  • Republican congressional candidate Jane Corwin is running 18 points behind the worst-performing Republican of 2010
  • Democrat Kathy Hochul is running even with Barack Obama’s performance in the district in 2008 – the best Democratic showing in NY-26 in three decades.
  • The Republicans suffered their worst losses in the least-educated portions of the District, where former GOP voters seem to have deserted the party for an independent candidate, Jack Davis.

What should make this race all the more alarming for Republicans is that NY-26 turned into a referendum on the Ryan plan for Medicare. As Henry Olsen says:

blue-collar voters react differently to issues than the GOP base does. They are more supportive of safety-net programs at the same time as they are strongly opposed to large government programs in general. These voters crave stability and are uncertain of their ability to compete in a globalized economy that values higher education more each year. They are also susceptible to the age-old Democratic argument that the secret Republican agenda is to eviscerate middle-class entitlements to fund tax cuts for the wealthy.

The Ryan budget is uniquely vulnerable to that attack because it fuses very tough Medicare reforms with big tax cuts in the same document.

The political dangers in the Ryan budget could have been predicted in advance. In fact, they were predicted in advance – and widely. Yet the GOP proceeded anyway, all but four members of the House putting themselves on record in favor. Any acknowledgment of these dangers was instantly proclaimed taboo, as Newt Gingrich has painfully learned. Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer have enthusiastically promoted Paul Ryan as a presidential candidate. And this morning, as the reckoning arrives, the denial continues. Here’s Jonah Goldberg in a column arguing that “perhaps the only guy who can explain the GOP budget should run.”

In reality, Ryan is very unlikely to accept this draft. He declined the opportunity to run for US Senate in Wisconsin, likely because he sensed he could not win a state-wide election in which his budget would be the main issue.

Now we’re likely headed to the worst of all possible worlds. The GOP will run on a platform crafted to be maximally obnoxious to downscale voters. Some may hope that Tim Pawlenty’s biography may cushion the pain. Perhaps that’s right, at least as compared to Mitt Romney, who in the 2008 primaries did worst among Republicans earning less than $100,000 a year. And yes, Pawlenty is keeping his distance from the Ryan plan. But biography only takes you so far. The big issues of 2012 will be jobs and incomes in a nation still unrecovered from the catastrophe of 2008-2009. What does the GOP have to say to hard-pressed voters? Thus far the answer is: we offer Medicare cuts, Medicaid cuts, and tighter money aimed at raising the external value of the dollar.

No candidate, not even if he or she is born in a log cabin, would be able to sell that message to America’s working class.


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47 Comments so far ↓

  • jcm433

    The DNC should send a bottle of 18 year-old Scotch to every member of the House Republican Caucus. Well, all but four of them…

  • Watusie

    There once was a man named Ryan
    Whose leader just couldn’t stop cryin’
    They took their schtick
    To NY-26
    But them voters, they just wasn’t buyin’

  • jcm433

    Hilarious, Watusie!!!!

  • Watusie

    “In reality, Ryan is very unlikely to accept this draft. He declined the opportunity to run for US Senate in Wisconsin, likely because he sensed he could not win a state-wide election in which his budget would be the main issue.”

    LOL – even he doesn’t believe his own budget. Remember how cross he was when Harry Reid announced the Senate was going to – gasp! – vote on it?

    • TerryF98

      Reid should schedule that vote as soon as possible, strike while the iron is so very hot!

      • dante

        Reid missed his opportunity, he should have scheduled the vote WEEKS ago.

        • LFC

          It would be funny as hell if the GOP filibustered the vote on their own plan. Not shocking, but funny.

    • zephae

      “LOL – even he doesn’t believe his own budget. Remember how cross he was when Harry Reid announced the Senate was going to – gasp! – vote on it?”

      It’s interesting that Frum called it a “draft,” which is essentially what he thought it was when he said it must be a blueprint for future Republican talking points, because no one else was going to accept it. I think he may once again have understated its importance to the party

      Side note Watusie: i believe it was you who previously posted a pie chart about what was driving oil prices, and i can’t seem to find it. Do you still have that?

  • TerryF98

    “They are also susceptible to the age-old Democratic argument that the secret Republican agenda is to eviscerate middle-class entitlements to fund tax cuts for the wealthy.”

    Earth to Frum.

    When your plan That you have voted on almost unanimously is to take $6500 a year from every senior in the country and give it to the top 2% in tax cuts, It’s hardly a secret any more, it’s a stated FACT.

    Foot meet bullet.

  • foosion

    Don’t worry. The Democrats will find a way to squander this issue. Steny Hoyer has made a good start, and don’t forget Obama’s talent for splitting the difference.

    Also, the Republicans will find a way to claim the Dems want to take your hard earned money and give it to *those people*. And will lie. And will be aided and abetted by the mainstream media.

    • Candy83

      Don’t worry. The Democrats will find a way to squander this issue.

      There were some in 2008, just after primaries season concluded, who had said the same when speculating on what would become the presidential outcome. Unfortunately, it lacks perspective. This site has produced writings about how bad the Republicans are looking in terms of governing. And I’ve come across at least a couple writers (can’t recall, right now, if David Frum is one of them!) who wonder if the GOP can win the presidential election before 2020 arrives. Today’s GOP leaders are reminding me of so much 34th president of the United States Dwight Eisenhower warned us about, Paul Ryan very much included.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBmTOiKusU4

  • Hunter01

    The Dems have got their issue for 2012: Medicare.

    The issue is simple enough for everyone to understand, so the ol’ reliable double-talk and appeals to patriotism won’t cut it for the Republicans this time. Seems there’s just one path to survival. House Republicans should admit their mistake, denounce the Ryan plan, do their mea culpas, and try to change the topic of conversation. AND DO IT NOW. Otherwise, the Dems could win back the House and gain a few more seats in the Senate.

    Chances of that happening: zero.

    The only consolation is the entertainment factor — i.e., the macabre fascination in watching a ship go down.

  • TerryF98

    More proof that dumb policy brings this sort of reward.

    “Florida voters disapprove 57 – 29 percent of the job Gov. Rick Scott is doing, the worst score of any governor in the states surveyed by Quinnipiac University and down from a 48 – 35 percent disapproval in an April 6 survey, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today”

    We are in Bush end of term numbers here, only the 27% ers left with a favorable opinion.

  • toetyper

    MN gov running for president– “Mr. Obama will cut medicare ; and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.” gee that sounds familiar

    • Gus

      Haha, Mondale was a Senator, but love the comment! That didn’t work so well for Fritz.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    The Ryan budget is uniquely vulnerable to that attack because it, in fact, eviscerates middle-class entitlements to fund tax cuts for the wealthy. FIXED

    If Ryan tied the Medicare cuts with paying off the deficit he maybe would have had a shot as he could have shown a balanced budget very early on. At least Republicans could have gone with the whole “the truth hurts but it needs to be done” but coupling it with more upper class tax cuts was nuts.

    Paul Ryan is the Manchurian Congressman.

  • Smargalicious

    Love how the Marxist mainstreamers are trying to demonize Ryan. The sad thing is that half of the nation now are non-taxpayers, putting them in the Obama camp.

    God help us all.

    • LFC

      Are you saying that half the nation never pays any payroll tax? How about sales tax? That if those people buy a fishing rod, lures, guns, ammo, etc. they don’t pay the excise tax that everybody else does? What about gasoline tax? Don’t these people drive?

      You really are nothing more than a parrot for the right-wing echo chamber. Try thinking about what you type for once and maybe people here will engage rather than mock you.

  • Erik

    The problem with ryans plan is that it has the same stink for americans that the Privatization of social security plan has…. throw my retirement in the market and let wall street (who I don’t trust) handle it? No WAY!, or throw my Medicare to the private market and let the corporate Fat cats (who I don’t trus)t handle it? NO WAY! if people really trusted the private sector it would be a no brainer but people don’t and that will always be the issue. they want goverment out of there life but they trust government to be there for them. if they really trusted the private sector more than government, privatization of medicare and social security would be no problem.

  • OldMojo

    Anyone else as nervous as me that the Democrats will do something stupid and provide cover for the Republicans. It appears to me that we have the Republicans on the run, but as we always seem to let them off the hook.

    Look at what Steny Hoyer is saying…Medicare is on the table. Please for the love of God. No keep medicare of the table.

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/05/progressives-polls-show-deficit-panic-is-republican-illusion.php?ref=fpb

    I am a Detroit Lion fan and I am use too statching defeat form the jaws of victory, but we can’t be this stupid.

  • Cforchange

    “Democrat Kathy Hochul is running even with Barack Obama’s performance in the district in 2008 – the best Democratic showing in NY-26 in three decades.”

    So doesn’t this fact reveal that NY staters were already dissatisfied with the GOP? It’s the medicare issue and more. No what’s happening is we are once again aligning with North, South mindsets. Folks from the North will remain fiscal con libertarians. Folks from the land of Oz will continue to cling to God, praying for solutions instead of high winds to drop from the sky.

    The right wing social engineering AKA The Southern strategy under accounted for natural resources and disasters. Living in the south and trying to be fiscal conservative won’t work – that is unless all of our insurance rates increase to cover their problems. Certainly those GOP budget cutters aren’t expecting government handouts to fix all this flooding and tornadoes! That’s so New Orleanish.

    Proof – look Smarg asks for God to help us all. Awe, don’t fret Smarg, Sarah has a movie for you. After the theater spending you can buy you own copy and keep yourself occupied until the October doomsday. Remove the namecalling from your remark and it is very accurate.
    Love how the mainstreamers are trying to demonize Ryan. Mainstream majority are needed to win elections.

    Watching the House antics for the first 6 months of this year would influence most reasoning GOP voters not to add to the problem.

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  • partyofdeath2010

    Terry, you hit the nail right on the head. Calling the Republicans plans to eviscerate the middle class to provide more mansions and yachts for themselves a “secret” is like calling John Ensign a celibate.

    • Churl

      “…the Republicans plans to eviscerate the middle class to provide more mansions and yachts for themselves….”

      You forgot to mention the cigars, top hats, tuxedos, and diamond studded shirtfronts, which are important parts of your cartoon caricature.

      • partyofdeath2010

        You know what, Churl? You’re absolutely right. I shouldn’t stoop to using cartoon stereotypes just because the right does that to the left 24/7 in virtually every venue.

        That having been said, I still think that there is very little doubt that the main point of almost all Republican proposals is to increase the amount of wealth of the very wealthy. What follows, I think, is NOT a cartoon caricature of the Republican message:

        Republicans whine, Republicans bitch.
        The rich are too poor, and the poor are too rich.

      • ottovbvs

        The basis of caricature is of course simple truth which humorists simply point out in an amusing form.

  • Anonymous

    [...] Republican agenda is to eviscerate middle-class entitlements to fund tax cuts for the wealthy.more: Paul Ryan: 2012’s Goldwater? | FrumForum He makes a good case. Plus, Sarah Palin as Goldwater? Really? Psssst !!! Goofy, silly, [...]

  • ditka

    What? Newt gets no love? He gave every Democratic candidate cover to call it “Right wing social engineering” and “imposing radical change.” Maybe he didn’t create the plan, but he gave a sound bite that we’ll hear until November 2012.

    • Gus

      Yeah, but if they do use Newt’s own words against him, it will be false. Newt said so himself. So there.

    • LFC

      Ditka, you seem to forget that Newt said that anybody who quotes his actual words is a liar. Kind of a “takesie, no give back” move.

      We already suffered 8 years of having an idiot man-child in the White House. The last thing this country needs is another one. Especially since the current adult residing there still isn’t done fixing the first one’s messes.

  • ditka

    Gus and LFC,

    I stand corrected. You are right. I thought Newt wanted to be Art Garfunkel to Ryan’s Paul Simon.

  • LFC

    Hey, Ditka. Top story in FF’s “The Feed” is entitled “Gingrich Defends Ryan’s Plan”. What a hammerhead!

  • ditka

    Of course he is. That guy who grabbed his arm in Iowa looked really pissed. You want to stay on that guy’s side.

    All kidding aside, outside of this website there are no conservatives critical of the Ryan plan. You can ask Newt what happens when you criticize the plan. Anyone think Pawlenty, Romney, or Huntsman are going to stick their necks out on that one?

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  • Steve D

    The next Goldwater? I wish to high heaven we had a Goldwater. At least then I could stop being embarrassed for the GOP. None of the nitwits being tossed around as candidates are remotely in Goldwater’s league.

    The biggest political tragedy of my lifetime was failing to elect Goldwater in 1964. We could have put the brakes on entitlements and regulation before they grew to the size they are now.

  • mister sibb

    this a test

  • mister sibb

    From what I understand, the ryan plan does not address the budget problems at the same time attacking medicare. It takes the money that is made from the worthless vouchers andgives it right back to the wealthy in lower taxes.