|Liberals Criticize Ryan Like They Did Reagan|
By Ashton Ellis
Thursday, August 16 2012
According to two liberals who know Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate is apparently the nicest, and also the most dangerous, politician since Ronald Reagan.
After allowing that Ryan is “a nice guy who’s fun to talk to,” E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post goes on to call the Wisconsin Republican congressman “an impractical ideologue” who “holds an almost entirely theoretical view of the world defined by big ideas that never touch the ground and devotes little energy to considering how his proposed budgets might affect the lives of people he’s never met.”
Dionne’s description echoes a quote attributed to former Democratic Congressman David Obey on last Sunday’s Face the Nation: “I just can’t imagine why a guy that nice could have the views he has.”
The views impugned by Dionne and Obey are contained in Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget proposals. Receiving particular condemnation are Ryan’s reforms of Medicare and Medicaid into capped amounts that individuals (Medicare) and states (Medicaid) can use at their discretion.
The benefit to taxpayers is that Ryan’s caps create cost certainty. Under the current system Medicare and Medicaid are designed to encourage open-ended spending by guaranteeing payment no matter the cost. The benefit to seniors (Medicare) and the poor (Medicaid) is that reforming these entitlements according to Ryan’s prescription will make both more affordable; thus avoiding an otherwise certain bankruptcy and loss of coverage.
This, of course, is anathema to liberals. During the 2010 campaign, they successfully demonized Republican congressional candidates who supported Ryan’s reforms with an infamous ad featuring a Paul Ryan lookalike pushing a grandma over a cliff. The message was clear: Support entitlement reform, and you support killing seniors. The ad and the argument worked well enough to create upset victories for Democrats in a couple of special elections, but it did nothing to stop the wave of Tea Party candidates from rushing in to reinforce Ryan.
Now with Ryan’s elevation to presumptive Republican vice presidential nominee, liberals are trying to figure out how to attack him. Though some will want to resurrect the granny killer ad, that tactic won’t work when it’s aimed at the man himself. The reason is that Paul Ryan is preternaturally cheerful. And smart. And sincere. American politics has yet to see a national politician combine the policy depth of Bill Clinton with the principles, optimism and rhetoric of Ronald Reagan. If Ryan continues to develop along the trajectory he’s on, he will be the first.
This drives liberals crazy.
To Dionne, Obey and a whole host of lefties there is a cognitive disconnect between being a nice person and arguing for fiscal restraint. Nice people are also smart people, so the liberal thinking goes, and smart people know that conservative politics make for bad public policy. That’s why liberals lament Paul Ryan’s elevation to the presidential contest – it gives the lie to the liberal trope that behind every conservative personality is an angry lunatic.
Liberals like Dionne and Obey misinterpret Ryan’s goodwill because they want his genial nature to transform him into a Beltway moderate. To them, Ryan’s personality should signal his openness to compromise on conservative ideals for the sake of being nice, meaning liked by liberals. Spend more taxpayer money and you get more friends in Washington, more invitations to the exclusive cocktail parties and more praise for being “courageous” and “a statesman,” when what you really are is a sellout.
Ryan is different. Like Reagan, his demeanor and speaking style will frustrate liberal attempts to paint him as a Dickensian villain. After misfiring with character assassination, they’ll try to convince voters that although Ryan is nice, he’s much too dangerous to help lead the country. After all, he actually wants to turn conservative ideas into policies.
Like Ryan, Reagan too was maligned for a controversial fiscal plan that ultimately proved to be the kick-start of the longest economic boom in American history.
If Americans think back far enough – and if the Romney campaign helps them connect the dots – they will remember that other reform-minded conservative who proved liberals wrong.
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