Saturday, October 31, 2015

Will Paul Ryan Save The GOP? Are You Kidding?


Inside the Republican conference, when the GOP had their secret vote to see who the party nominee would nominate for Speaker, 45 Republicans couldn't bring themselves to vote for Ryan, many of them crackpots he had cultivated for years by giving them fat checks from his personal ProsperityAction PAC, funded by the Wall Street interests who have nurtured him for many, many years. He got 200 votes, not enough to win the Speakership the next day. But it was clear that most of the opponents would switch their votes on the floor and help elect Ryan Speaker. And they did; 236 Republicans voted for Ryan and only 9 crackpot extremists went for Daniel "Taliban Dan" Webster:
David Brat (R-VA)
Curt Clawson (R-FL)
Louie Gohmert (R-TX)
Paul Gosar (R-AZ)
Walter Jones (R-NC)
Thomas Massie (R-KY)
Bill Posey (R-FL)
Randy Weber (R-TX)
Ted Yoho (R-FL)
I'll mention that Pelosi got 184 votes, only three very right-wing Blue Dogs-- Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Gwen Graham (FL) and Jim Cooper (TN)-- voting against her. The vote for Ryan puts a far right extremist in the 3rd most powerful political position in America, one who is completely beholden to what Bernie refers to as "the billionaire class," which has nurtured his career ever since he was a trainer in a gym. The video up top gives a hint of what's scary about Speaker Ryan, who has been the loudest-- albeit craftiest-- advocate for eviscerating Medicare of anyone in Congress. The Beltway media has very much bought into his carefully designed persona as a somewhat mainstream, non-ideological intellectual. Nothing could be further from the truth... unless being obsessed with Ayn Rand's adolescent inanities make you an intellectual and unless smiling sweetly while presenting a budget plan to turn Medicare into an inadequate and deadly voucher system in order to lower taxes on the rich is "non-ideological."

But in their relentless and spectacularly successful crusade to move the political center further right, the Republican media has ostensibly abandoned Ryan as a squish. Eric Boehlert saw through the ruse immediately:
When newly-elected Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was picked by Mitt Romney to be his running mate in 2012, right-wing media were ecstatic. Cheered by Ryan's sterling conservative credentials, far right commentators celebrated that one of their own has been added to the ticket.

Rush Limbaugh: "I don't remember a vice presidential pick that has so energized a campaign as this choice of Paul Ryan."

Glenn Beck: "Mitt Romney has picked a solid, smart conservative for his vice-presidential running mate."

Laura Ingraham: "More than anything today, we need a man with courage and clear-thinking. Ryan has both."

Mark Levin: "Paul Ryan is an excellent VP choice."

Fast forward just three years and those same commentators are now raising doubts about Ryan, when not outright trashing him in public. Ryan's sudden sin?  Not being sufficiently conservative; not passing the purity test.

Limbaugh: "This whole Ryan thing hasn't made any sense to me from the first moment I heard about it."

Beck: "The 'fix' the republic needs is Paul Ryan? The man who never met a bailout he didn't like? A man who asked to be made king? 100% support and you can't vote him out? Your solution is MORE POWER FOR THE SPEAKER?!?!?!?"

Levin: "NOT SO FAST! Paul Ryan an amnesty advocate"

Ingraham: "From misrepresenting the outrageous Fast Track &TPP to amnesty & foreign workers, list of demands, Ryan's possibly the worst Spkr choice."

Ryan's amazing free-fall from grace seems to be part of a larger race to the radical right, not only among powerful forces with the Republican Party, which now seem to be fundamentally opposed to governing and legislating, but also within key portions of the right-wing media. There seems to be a mini-stampede underway towards an extremist destination rarely seen in mainstream American politics. And for parts of the conservative media that means now demonizing former heroes like Paul Ryan.

"Conservative talk show hosts, including Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, have already denounced him as a dangerous moderate," according to Doyle McManus at the Los Angeles Times. "Tea party organizations are already raising money from supporters with appeals to stop any more Ryanesque budget deals."

... "He is the wrong man at the wrong time."  [American Thinker]
"Paul Ryan represents one of the absolute worst outcomes for conservatives. " [Conservative Review]
"Despite his portrayal by the media as being conservative, most actual conservatives in the House know that Ryan isn't a conservative." [Breitbart]
And, yet, policy-wise, nothing has changed. The right-wing purity test is more toxic than it has ever been in American history. Even their greatest hero, Reagan, would be on his way back to the Democratic Party if this crew of grifters, profiteers and lunatic fringe sociopaths ever got their hands on him. Ryan wants to privatize Social Security and phase out Medicare. He wants their super-rich donors to pay laughable tax rates and he's all for shrinking the size of government so that it can be drown in a bathtub. That isn't enough for them? Nope, not as crazy and self-referential as they've become today.

It's going to take a Goldwater-sized thrashing to wake up the GOP-- and that's probably coming courtesy of Ted Cruz. I wasn't that interested in the horse-race aspects of the new Reuters-Ipsos poll released yesterday but I found the chart just above interesting. Depending on what priorities issies-voters put on various issues, it looks like there could be a giant Democratic Party tsunami headed this way next year. Among voters whose top issues are Israel, Iran, Syria, the war on terror, the deficit and foreign policy, the GOP has a slight advantage. Like, of the several hundred voters who will turn out at the polls in 2016, 53% of them will vote for the GOP and 47% for the Democrats (all things being equal). On the other hand, if a voter is motivated by women's rights, marriage equality, the environment, education, Medicare, healthcare, Social Security, energy policy, small business, and jobs... advantage Democrats. How much advantage? Well voters for whom women's issues are the top priority-- probably a few more than for whom Syria is-- will give the Democrats 75% of their vote and... let's see... what's left over for the GOP? Oh yeah, 25%. Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, any Bushs, Romneys, Kochs... YES!

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