Calhoun’s Cannons for August 13, 12
Did a Mormon just throw a Hail Mary pass? Right there in front of the retired battleship Wisconsin in historical naval Norfolk? (I looked, but I didn’t see any banners announcing, “Mission Accomplished,” and neither Romney nor Ryan were wearing jump suits, (neither men served in the military, but that critical military subtext was still on delicious display.) Well, Quel astonishments!
Unless that Hail Mary Pass turns into another McCain-Palin moment and the Ryan tail starts wagging the dog. After all, truth has its own creepy way of oozing past smiling teeth, no matter how tightly clenched, and Romney’s teeth were on display when he introduced Ryan as, “the next president of the United States.” A gaff, yes, but a prescient one, I suspect.
After all, we’ve been down this road before; floundering campaign, candidate can’t seem to get traction, back-room Pols decide the candidate needs a Veep pick with some energy and excitement and behold! Sarah. And the rest is history, which didn’t go well.
In Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney will get energy, all right. But he’ll also get Ryan, the Ayn Rand fanboy, Tea Party darling, leader of the No-Compromise Radical Republican Young Guns that repeatedly hijacked Obama’s agenda and did everything they could to stonewall, stall, filibuster and stymie their Democratic foes while the country’s needs went begging. (Among the grim consequences were the U.S. bond ratings downgraded, the recovery stalled, desperately needed legislation sidetracked or killed). But that didn’t stop Ryan from forcefully and gleefully dumping those consequences on the President’s head during his rousing introductory speech. J’ accuse! thundered Ryan, with a straight face and nary a mention of his role in the obstruction, like the man who burns the house down then blames the match. It’s become a typical Republican hypocrisy that constantly makes one’s head explode. And should put us all on notice: With Ryan, as with Sarah Palin, facts need not be in evidence.
Which the voter really, really needs to remember because with Ryan comes Ryan’s infamous budget plan, which aims at downsizing government by privitizing Social Security and Medicare and making deep, punishing cuts to the social safety net. It’s a budget that various experts, who do like to deal with facts in evidence, have decreed to be a deficit- exploder that would throw the poor under the bus while increasing tax breaks for the rich – which, of course, is the Ayn Randian wet dream. (As Randian fanboys know, “the poor” are “parasites” and the sooner they’re done away with the better. John Galt and his ilk don’t do “moochers.”)
But there it is nonetheless, that budget, the 800 pound spike that Romney drove through his own foot in order to stop his teeter-tottering cold. Bam! Nailed himself and his gossamer thin, smoke and mirrors, now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t campaign firmly to the radical right-wing Republican base -- Romney’s breathtaking go for broke auto-de-fe to the Tea Party.
But an unexpected consequence of that choice appeared in the first few days of the duo’s introductory tour. There he was, bubbling with life, tossing off sound-bites like confetti, young Ryan, vigorous, active, charged up and stemwinding the crowd with skilful, stirring rhetoric that outlines his vision for America while Romney stands awkwardly nearby looking like a tired out-of-place roadie waiting to adjust Ryan’s microphone.
It was pure TV messaging: With his veep pick, Romney had outsourced himself. He became Ryan’s me-too wingman, Ryan’s beard, Ryan’s stalking horse. Why go to Romney, when Ryan’s the Idea Guy, The Guy With The Plan, the forceful, articulate, exciting Stemwinder On The Stump, the guy the camera loves, the ratings-getter media darling, the Pit Bull without the lipstick.
Déjà vu? You betcha!
Well, if the public can get past the false narratives that are now rolling out from both parties, and can get access to some real facts as opposed to faux facts from people who view “facts” as opinions from an alternative universe, this election, despite its PAC-guaranteed Mad Hatterish hideousness, will be critical for setting the country’s direction for the foreseeable future.
The can has been kicked down the road about as far as it can go and just how we chose to deal with that can will have real-world impacts on all of us. We can go back to trickle-down economics and try another version in hopes it will work this time. Or we can rethink and recalibrate what we want to be as a country and who we want to be as a people. We’ve dithered enough and our string is running out. And I doubt the choices will ever be clearer
And in a game with stakes this high, I don’t think a Hail Mary Pass is going to cut it. Time to get serious. No more lipstick on pigs or pit bulls. Please.