I’ve learned too much from Andrew McC. to think him an “imbecile,” so I hope he will consider any possible mistake in my assumptions in this post as just that, a mistake, and not an implied put-down of him. (I think that if you re-read Stiles’s post you might conclude that you have been oversensitive on this point.) I think McCarthy the only person I know, including Paul Ryan himself, who considers the full enactment of the Ryan budget plan in this Congress as a test of Republican seriousness. I suppose that in some sense it will be disappointing if Medicare isn’t converted into a program of premium support before the 2012 elections. I’d certainly prefer it if it were, of course. But to suggest that Republicans are selling out if they accept a different short-term legislative outcome while living to fight another day—and that any conservative pundit who reaches a different judgment is simply an apologist for them—strikes me as a deeply misguided way of thinking about our political challenges.