Perhaps the easiest and cheapest strategy in modern politics is to question your opposition’s motives. It’s a timesaver, as you really don’t have to learn what your opponent is proposing at all; you simply have to draw a direct line to whatever shadowy group you think they are tied to.
We’ve seen this from the Left over and over. We went to war in Iraq to pay off Dick Cheney’s buddies in Halliburton; Scott Walker wanted to destroy the unions because the Koch Brothers whispered softly in his ear; Republicans want voters to verify who they are solely so people of color can’t vote. And on and on.
But the beauty of Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate is that Ryan’s motives are above reproach. As I argue in my column today, there’s no way to explain Ryan’s attempts to reform entitlements other than to point out he’s acting on principle:
Ryan’s signature accomplishment is his plan to reform entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Since politicians rarely seriously address these massive programs, Ryan falls outside of the typical talking points. Democrats simply don’t know how to attack the motivations of someone clearly operating on principle.
What cigar-chomping billionaire benefits from Ryan’s plan to ensure the fiscal solvency of Medicare for future retirees? What secret global conglomerate is he trying to funnel money to by lowering our national debt? The answer to both questions, of course, is none.
In fact, Ryan’s plan is crazy by Washington standards because its only purpose is to actually fix the problems our country faces, not to pay off a political constituency. The hysterical reaction to Ryan’s plan demonstrates exactly why politicians rarely submit such bold legislation; why deal with unpopular issues when you can keep kicking the can down the road and earning re-election? . . .
The scariest parts of Ryan’s budget plan are the parts that actually aren’t in it. And it is those fabricated policies that his opponents are going to emphasize over the next three months, because they can’t paint Ryan as evil, stupid or corrupt, as the Democratic playbook instructs. Instead, they have to deal with a guy who routinely gets more than 65% in a swing district because he talks to his constituents like adults. Don’t count on his opponents to do the same.
Read the whole column here.