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Tags: Paul Ryan

Dealing With the Budget Deal



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The midweek edition of the Morning Jolt features a look at why the Washington area can never seem to cope with any amount of snow (or even rumors of snow!), another inspiring example of your tax dollars at work, and, of course, examining the budget deal announced last night:

Budget? Deal With It.

Great news for everyone who was tired of the recent Republican unity over Obamacare and fantastic momentum heading into the midterm elections: House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) worked out a budget deal with Senate Budget Committee chairwoman Patty Murray (D., Tennis Shoes).

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 would set overall discretionary spending for the current fiscal year at $1.012 trillion — about halfway between the Senate budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion. The agreement would provide $63 billion in sequester relief over two years, split evenly between defense and non-defense programs. In fiscal year 2014, defense discretionary spending would be set at $520.5 billion, and non-defense discretionary spending would be set at $491.8 billion.

The sequester relief is fully offset by savings elsewhere in the budget. The agreement includes dozens of specific deficit-reduction provisions, with mandatory savings and non-tax revenue totaling approximately $85 billion. The agreement would reduce the deficit by between $20 and $23 billion.

This is not what most of us would consider a “good” deal. The deficit reduction is pretty paltry. The “non-tax revenue” includes things like raising the $2.50 per-passenger per-flight “TSA fee” on flyers, which will sound a lot like a tax hike to a lot of folks. But there is a tiny bit of pension reform for federal workers:

These sections increase federal-employee contributions to their retirement programs by 1.3 percentage points. The proposal affects new employees hired after December 31, 2013 with less than five years of service.

And there’s a bit of what we would consider to be entitlement reform in the treatment of military pensions:

This provision modifies the annual cost-of-living adjustment for working-age military retirees by making the adjustments equal to inflation minus one percent. This change would be gradually 3 phased in, with no change for the current year, a 0.25 percent decrease in December 2014, and a 0.5 percent decrease in December 2015. This would not affect service members who retired because of disability or injury. Service members would never see a reduction in benefits from one year to the next.

This, or any other long-term deal, avoids a government shutdown for the next two years. And you have to figure Barack Obama and Harry Reid are itching to have another government shutdown, as it provided the Democrats their one most optimistic political moment, just before Obamacare the Destructor appeared on the horizon.

Above: Obamacare, in marshmallow form.

Here’s the political environment at the moment, according to Quinnipiac:

President Barack Obama’s job approval among American voters drops to a new low, a negative 38 – 57 percent, as the outlook for Democrats running for Congress and the U.S. Senate fades also, according to a national poll released today. He even gets a negative 41 – 49 percent among voters 18 to 29 years old and a lackluster 50 – 43 percent approval among Hispanic voters.

American voters say 41 – 38 percent that they would vote for a Republican over a Democrat for the U.S. House of Representatives, the first time this year the Democrats come up on the short end of this generic ballot. Independent voters back Republican candidates 41 – 28 percent. Voters also say 47 – 42 percent that they would like to see Republicans gain control of the U.S. Senate and the House. Independent voters go Republican 50 – 35 percent for each.

If Quinnipiac’s not to your liking, here’s the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll this morning:

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that more Americans disapprove of the president’s job performance than ever before; half say they’re either disappointed or dissatisfied with his presidency and 54 percent believe he’s facing a long-term setback.

Perhaps more significantly, Obama has seen a drop in key presidential attributes.

Just 28 percent give the president high grades for being able to achieve his goals (down 16 points from January); only 37 percent give him high marks for being honest and straightforward (down 5 points from June); and 44 percent give him high marks for being able to handle a crisis (down another 5 points since June).

Only 34 percent believe the health law is a good idea (down 3 points from late October), while 50 percent say it’s a bad idea (the highest percentage on that measure since the NBC/WSJ poll began asking this question).

Also, by a 51 percent to 43 percent margin, respondents say they are bothered more by the Obama administration’s troubled health care website and some Americans losing their health plans than by the Republican Party’s continued efforts to undermine the law.

And asked which one or two issues have been most important in shaping their views about the president, the top response was the health care law (58 percent) — followed by the economy (25 percent), the government shutdown (23 percent) and the situations in Syria and Iran (16 percent).

The Ryan-Murray deal puts Obama and Reid in a box. Only a few events would be big enough to change this dynamic, and the most likely is another shutdown. But to get another government shutdown, they have to shoot down this deal — putting them on the wrong side of a happy-talk “bipartisan compromise” and making them the scapegoats for any failure to reach a deal. Sure, they could dig in and force another government shutdown, but they would get the blame for this one.

Mike Memoli nicknames it “The Bland Bargain.”

Tags: Paul Ryan , Patty Murray , Budget , Barack Obama , Polling

BO-INO: Bipartisan Outreach In Name Only



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The Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt features an examination of the Toomey-Manchin proposal on background checks, news about Terry McAuliffe’s GreenTech Automotive company, an intriguing quote from the White House, and then this . . .

Obama’s Outreach to Republicans, for the Cameras Only

Wednesday night, President Obama dined with Republicans.

This latest round of mealtime diplomacy — which will take place in the White House’s Old Family Dining Room, rather than the Jefferson Hotel — will feature lawmakers ranging from moderate Maine Sen. Susan Collins to conservative John Boozman (Ark.). Other attendees include GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), and John Thune (S.D.).

You’ll recall that Obama did almost no outreach to Republicans in his first term.

If there were ever a Republican for President Obama to work with, it was Maine Senator Olympia Snowe. She was one of just three Republicans in the entire Congress to vote for his economic stimulus plan in 2009 and even tried to work with him on health care, but in an interview with ABC’s Senior Political Correspondent Jonathan Karl, Snowe makes a remarkable revelation: She hasn’t had a face-to-face meeting with President Obama in nearly two years.

Now, if you’re a Democratic President looking to build bipartisan coalitions, isn’t Olympia Snowe the first place you start?

Of course, you’ll also recall some unnamed White House staffer who said that all of the recent outreach to Republicans was just window-dressing to get the media off his case; he, and apparently his colleagues and perhaps the president believed there was no practical use to actually meeting and eating with legislators in the opposing party.

“This is a joke. We’re wasting the president’s time and ours,” complained a senior White House official who was promised anonymity so he could speak frankly. “I hope you all (in the media) are happy because we’re doing it for you.”

So is the outreach “real” or for the cameras? Well, when Paul Ryan came to NR’s offices in Washington yesterday, he offered a nugget that appears to shed some light. Our Andrew Stiles wrote up that portion of the conversation:

Representative Paul Ryan hasn’t heard from President Obama since their lunch meeting in early March, the House budget committee chairman told reporters on Wednesday.

“Not that I know of,” Ryan said when asked if the president had made any effort to follow up on their meeting, which he noted was “the first time we ever had a conversation” since Obama took office. “I don’t really know him very well.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Olympia Snowe , Paul Ryan

Ryan: I Have a Clear View of Our Nation’s Altered Trajectory



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Rep. Paul Ryan stopped by National Review’s Washington offices today. Towards the end of the meeting, I asked him about the contrast in his life in the past year — last autumn, when he spent every day in the white-hot spotlight running for vice president, and now, when he’s back chairing the House Budget Committee. I asked whether a part of him felt happy to be back in his budget-policy element.

“No, I actually wished I was doing something different,” Ryan said with a laugh. “I had a different vision than this.”

“I guess one of the most distressing things is that . . . I worked with Mike Leavitt — after my debate was done, I got to jump into the transition planning more. Mitt had two more debates to go. So I worked with Mike Leavitt and Chris Liddell and his team on the transition plan. And knowing what we were going to do in the first 200 days, how we were going to tackle the entitlement problems, the debt crisis, tax reform, energy exploration, all the things we said were going to do, we were going to do. And we were really getting down to the specifics. Losing the election and now seeing where the country is headed in this kind of level of detail . . . [holding up a summary of President Obama’s budget proposal, unveiled today] . . . Very few people have such a clear view of the whole alteration of trajectory that has occurred. And that’s obviously . . . I won’t say it’s despairing, it’s distressing, I’m distressed. I gave up despair for Lent this year,” he joked.

“I look at the situation now, and I do what you have to do as a legislator: make the best of a situation as it is, and try to improve things. I want to get an agreement to get a down payment on this problem to buy the country time, and help create some space for economic growth. But it’s distressing that all of these things are happening — I think Obamacare is going to destroy health care. I think the tax code is holding us back. I think we’re on the cusp of an energy renaissance, if we allow it happen, that could be a game changer for America. I think they’re regulating jobs out of existence with uncertainty. We could have changed all that. But we didn’t. So let’s go to Plan B, which is make the best of it.”

Tags: Balanced Budgets , Barack Obama , Mitt Romney , Paul Ryan

Romney: Hurricane Relief Events Today



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The Romney campaign is sending out this revised schedule for the candidate, in light of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy:

Today, Gov. Romney is scheduled to attend a storm relief event at the James S. Trent Arena in Kettering, Ohio, where he will be joined by Richard Petty and Randy Owen and help collect donations for storm-relief efforts:

Paul Ryan will be in Wisconsin to drop by the La Crosse Victory Center in La Crosse and the Hudson Victory Center in Hudson, where he will thank volunteers who are delivering or collecting items for storm relief efforts. All Wisconsin Victory Centers will collect donations for storm-relief efforts on Tuesday, Oct. 30 and Wednesday, Oct. 31:

Ann Romney will also attend events in Wisconsin and then travel to Iowa. She will visit the Green Bay Victory Office in Wisconsin, the Davenport Victory Center in Iowa as well as the Cedar Rapids Victory Office in Iowa, where she will participate in storm relief collection efforts. She will then attend a Victory Rally at the Temple for the Performing Arts in Des Moines, Iowa:

 

Tags: Ann Romney , Hurricanes , Mitt Romney , Paul Ryan

Red Rocks, Red State?



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The only bit from the Morning Jolt I’m posting today is the closing addenda:

ADDENDA: Ryan Mahoney, regional press secretary of the RNC, shares a photo of a heck of a crowd for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado.

Mollie Hemingway: “GOP guy in Colorado says 9400 seats at Red Rocks amphitheater. Had 15K requests for Romney event. C-470 at standstill.”

Crowd size doesn’t tell us everything, but it tells us something about grassroots enthusiasm.

Tags: Colorado , Mitt Romney , Paul Ryan

Who’s Laughing Now, Mr. Vice President?



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This is certain to be a busy week, and the week’s first Morning Jolt notices a poll result down in Florida…

Show Joe Biden This Poll Result, and He Might Just Stop Laughing

A reader sent me this poll result and asked, “who gets the last laugh?”

Proper caveats: The sample is only of the Tampa area, and only 13 percent of this sample of debate watchers changed their mind, which amounts to about 92 people.

1,000 Tampa area adults were interviewed by SurveyUSA about last night’s Vice Presidential debate. Of the adults, 704 watched the debate. Results of debate watchers:

* 38% say Joe Biden clearly won the debate.

* 42% say Paul Ryan clearly won the debate.

* 20% say there was no clear winner.

* 13% say they changed which candidate for President they support as a result of the debate.

Of those who tell SurveyUSA they changed their mind:

* 44% switched from the Obama ticket to the Romney ticket.

* 29% switched from undecided to the Romney ticket.

* A total of 73% switched to the Romney ticket.

* 18% switched from the Romney ticket to the Obama ticket.

* 6% switched from undecided to the Obama ticket.

* A total of 24% switched to the Obama ticket.

* 49% say Biden is ready to be President, if needed.

* 51% say Ryan is ready to be President, if needed.

Still, in any amount, if three folks shifted to Romney for every one who shifted to Obama, this is good news for Republicans (and suggests that the gut reaction that Biden came across as an insufferably snide blowhard isn’t just our partisan instincts).

As Ed Morrissey notices, “13% is around the level of undecided/soft voters nationally.”

Keep in mind the audience for the vice-presidential debate was significantly lower than the Romney-Obama debate: “Final Nielsen ratings data on Friday showed that the vice presidential match-up on issues ranging from the economy to foreign policy and abortion, was seen by 51.4 million Americans across 12 cable and broadcast networks.The October 3 debate between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney drew a TV audience of 67.2 million, putting it among the 10 most-watched debates of the past 30 years.”

Still, at the thought that Joe Biden’s constant cackling cost his ticket votes, I’m just left with this image of a recurring, recorded laugh, after we’ve witnessed an outlandish personality, once on top of the world, plummet to defeat . . .

Tags: Barack Obama , Joe Biden , Mitt Romney , Paul Ryan , Polling

Vice President Loses Debate, Marbles



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The final Morning Jolt of the week, which leads off with my reaction to last night’s debate:

Joe Biden’s Debate Slogan: Why So Serious?

It was a weird debate, in that one candidate’s personality so totally dominated the proceedings, that your reaction to the debate will be decided almost entirely by what you think of Joe Biden when unplugged.

It will not surprise you that I am not really a fan of Joe Biden, and in fact periodically have a hard time getting my head around the fact that he is a heartbeat away from being entrusted with the launch codes for the United States nuclear arsenal.

So it’s kind of hard to grade the debate by the traditional methods.

Q: Which candidate do you think won the debate?

Jim: Am I the only person in Washington who fears that the vice president is mentally unstable, and/or on some sort of intense, mood-altering medication?

Thursday night’s debate did nothing to dissuade me of the notion that Barack Obama rise to the presidency is exponentially less surprising and unexpected than the fact that Joe Biden is our vice president. I am less concerned about the lack of a broad bipartisan consensus that Biden lost the debate than the lack of a broad bipartisan consensus that Biden lost his marbles.

Undoubtedly, one of the big story lines will be “The Democrats are charged up again!” Of course, if this were gymnastics, we would have to assign a low degree of difficulty to that goal. If you’re a national politician with a pulse, stirring up your base is one of the basic tasks you’re expected to be able to achieve on a regular basis. It’s like tackling for a linebacker.

The vice president appeared to prepare for this debate by inhaling nitrous oxide and sticking a fork in an electrical socket.

Four years ago, Biden was on a short leash, determined to not lose any women voters by coming across as smug or dismissive of Sarah Palin. But years of watching the Delaware senator reveal that when fully unleashed, Biden is loud, condescending, obnoxious, full of himself, not nearly as well-informed as he thinks he is, and sometimes weird to the point of creepy. Clearly, Biden believes that when his opponent says something he disagrees with, the right thing to do is smile or maybe laugh. He thinks this is disarming; instead he comes across like the Joker. The RNC quickly arranged a nice montage here.

So, no matter the topic — the deaths of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Benghazi, the Iranian nuclear program, the continuing economic hard times for millions of Americans, the slaughter of civilians in Syria — Cheery Joe responded to Paul Ryan’s points with a grin that Willem Dafoe would find unnerving and chilling. Perhaps it was a bold but failed strategy to try to get Ryan to suddenly exclaim, “What the hell is wrong with you, man?”

Tags: Joe Biden , Paul Ryan

Harmer: Replace Your Debate Drinking Game With a Donating Game



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David Harmer, who ran the closest race of any California Republican House candidate in 2010, sends along this message of his particular disdain for Vice President Biden, and his challenge to Romney donors.

I don’t mind stupid people. It’s stupid people who think they’re smart that aggravate me — which goes a long way toward explaining my profound and enduring antipathy to Vice President Joe Biden, the most vapid gasbag ever to hold the office.

Back when I was young and frisky and counsel to a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I routinely had to sit just a few feet behind and over from that insufferable blowhard. His chairmanship of Senate Judiciary was notable for two, and only two, things: his world-class logorrhea, and his serial character assassination of honorable men and women whose nominations he torpedoed for the crime of holding conservative convictions and taking the Constitution seriously. For someone with an intellect as shallow as Biden’s (76th out of 85 in his class at a law school that U.S. News ranks as 96th out of 200) — and who was a mendacious plagiarist to boot (see, e.g., Why Biden’s plagiarism shouldn’t be forgotten) — to question the qualifications and character of jurists like Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas required a veritable Everest of chutzpah.

In 2008, the mainstream media widely regarded Biden as adding “gravitas” to the Democratic ticket. Whether that says more about the shallowness of Barack Obama or the shallowness of his acolytes in the press is hard to say. Either way, I’m anticipating tonight’s debate with unseemly eagerness, indeed relish. Unlike Biden, Paul Ryan is a gentleman, so Slow Joe won’t get a taste of his own medicine. But next to the earnest, informed, disciplined, and precise Ryan, Biden can’t possibly go 90 minutes without exposing himself as a five-star buffoon.

Last week the American people restored my waning faith in their good sense by declaring Mitt Romney the victor in his debate by a three-to-one margin. Tonight’s contest should be even more lopsided.

No doubt conservatives across the country will augment the debate’s entertainment value with drinking contests. As a teetotaling Mormon, I can’t join that kind of fun — but I’m hereby challenging you to a more productive variant. Every time Biden says any of the following words or phrases . . . instead of taking a shot, donate $5 to the Romney-Ryan campaign!

Literally

Come on, man

Millionaires and billionaires

Bin Laden’s dead and GM’s alive

Keep a running tally, then contribute here. When you do, please click the box that says, “I know my referrer’s information” (between Payment Information and Employment Information). That lets the campaign credit your contribution toward the amount I’ve committed to help raise ($311,187 so far, shooting for $500k).

Thank you, and happy viewing!

Harmer may call Biden stupid, but I’ll bet that Biden would disarm him with his trademarked declaration of humility, “I’ll bet that I have a much higher I.Q. than you.”

Tags: Barack Obama , David Harmer , Joe Biden , Mitt Romney , Paul Ryan

Middle Cheese: Internals Show Latinos in Florida, Colorado Shifting to Romney



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My source Middle Cheese checks in, with the latest he’s hearing from the Big Cheeses over at the Romney campaign:

Abortion: The liberal media is hoping Mitt’s comment to the Des Moines Register that the pro-life legislation isn’t “part of my agenda” will cause an uproar in the pro-life community. Believe me, it won’t because we pro-lifers (I am a card-carrying member of the National Right to Life) know that Romney was referring to his legislative agenda for jobs and the economy in the first 100 days. And as Romney said himself, one of his first acts as president will be to issue an Executive Order reinstating Reagan’s “Mexico City Policy” banning U.S. funding of international family planning groups that provide abortion services. Romney will also repeal Obamacare, which mandates coverage of contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs by religious organizations. Sorry liberals, but the pro-life community remains energized for Romney.

Hispanics: Mitt’s strong debate performance is having the same positive impact on Hispanic voters that it has had with the general electorate. My sources on Team Romney say their post-debate internal polling shows improvement for Romney among Hispanics nationally, and growing support in Florida and Colorado. In Florida, Mitt is moving up and Obama is polling below what he got in 2008 among Hispanics (57 percent).

Benghazi: Look for Team Romney to turn up the heat on Obama for his actions (or lack thereof) to secure our consulate in Libya prior to the 9/11 murders of our Ambassador and three Americans, and his Administration’s conflicting and confusing explanations of what happened in the aftermath of what we now know was a terrorist attack.

VP debate: I won’t play the expectations game, but the fact is that Joe Biden has done 18 Presidential or Vice Presidential debates and Paul Ryan has done zero. Unlike Obama, Joe Biden is going to throw the kitchen sink at the Romney-Ryan ticket — “Big Bird,” “47 percent,” “tax returns,” “$5 trillion tax cut,” and of course “voucherizing Medicare.” Expect Ryan to counter Biden’s negative attacks with the facts, but then to quickly return to overarching theme of the “big choice” in this election and how a Romney-Ryan Administration would solve the big problems.

Tags: Abortion , Joe Biden , Middle Cheese , Paul Ryan , Polling

A Likely List of Thursday’s Debate Topics



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For much of today, there has been some grumbling on the right about Martha Raddatz, the ABC News senior correspondent who is moderating the vice-presidential debate. In 1991, Barack Obama attended her wedding. This is rather weak tea as far as evidence of bias; she has since divorced and remarried. (Wonder what Obama got her as a gift . . . a cassette tape of his speeches?) If anything, this story coming up might make her a little more determined to appear to be playing it down the middle.

But take a look at her recent work, and we may have a good sense of the likely topics:

Martha Raddatz was named Senior Foreign Affairs correspondent for ABC News in November 2008, after serving as White House correspondent during the last term of President George W. Bush’s administration. In addition to covering the day-to-day foreign and domestic stories from the White House, Raddatz has traveled from Haiti to Yemen to the Mideast and through south Asia.

Raddatz has traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan dozens of times, and to Iraq 21 times to cover the ongoing conflict. She was on the last convoy out of Iraq and is the only television reporter allowed to cover a combat mission over Afghanistan in an F15 fighter jet, spending nearly 10 hours in the air on two separate missions. In the early hours of June 8, 2006, she was the first correspondent to report that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, had been killed in a U.S. air strike north of Baghdad. In 2011 she reported exclusive details on the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. That same year she had an exclusive interview on the USS Kearsage off the coast of Libya with the Marines who helped rescue two American pilots who had gone down in Libya. In 2012, Raddatz was on a USS destroyer as it made its way through the Strait of Hormuz.

Libya’s a certainty, and some related or separate question on the status of al-Qaeda and U.S. efforts against that group. Afghanistan and our draw-down of troops is also almost certain. Expect at least one question on Iran and its nuclear program. Sequestration and its impact on the defense budget is another very likely topic.

The format is “nine 10-minute segments, each candidate will have two minutes to respond to an opening question. The moderator will then lead a discussion.” Libya, al-Qaeda, Afghanistan, Iran, and sequestration would make five topics; the remaining four would be on domestic policy and would probably focus heavily on the economy. With Ryan on stage, the debt and his budgetary proposals are almost certain to get their own segment.

Tags: al-Qaeda , Debates , Joe Biden , Libya , Paul Ryan

The Task Before Joe Biden



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The last time Joe Biden stepped onto a vice-presidential debate stage, he faced a challenge only George H. W. Walker had dealt with before: debating a woman in a nationally-televised debate.

And Sarah Palin proved an even bigger, more sudden, more dynamic political phenomenon than Geraldine Ferraro was in 1984. Since her debut, Obama’s allies had attacked Palin relentlessly, and the Alaska Governor had run into trouble after her interview with Katie Couric. Palin was a largely unknown quantity headed into the debate, and the only thing most Americans knew was that she was a mother of five and feisty. The expectations were heavy for Biden; he had been in the Senate for decades and spent his life arguing and talking; Palin had never been under such a withering, relentless spotlight.

The last thing Biden needed to do was come across as condescending, or snide, or obnoxious. Bush had run into a little trouble back in 1984, after he had been recorded saying, “I think we did kick a little ass last night.” (Bush and Ferraro discussed their debate in 2008; he said he had been warned about the dangers of inadvertently appearing overbearing or rude.)

So Biden, by and large, kept it simple. He didn’t go on the attack much. However, he described some alternate-universe history that almost no one in the press called him out on, because of the ongoing Palin obsession at that moment. Michael Totten wrote:

“When we kicked — along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, “Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t know — if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it.” Now what’s happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately to the north of Israel.” [Emphasis added.]

What on Earth is he talking about? The United States and France may have kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon in an alternate universe, but nothing even remotely like that ever happened in this one.

The media’ obsession with all facets of Palin helped obscure Biden’s weak spots last time around. He won’t be able to count on it this time, not because the press is any less hostile to Republicans but because Paul Ryan consumes much less media oxygen.

Some Democrats may want Biden to come out of the blocks attacking relentlessly Thursday night. The Obama campaign brain trust may feel that their base has been left so shaken by Obama’s performance last week, that it needs to see a Democrat tearing apart his opponent as cruel, heartless, reckless, and so on.

But if Biden’s the designated attack dog of the Obama campaign, he’s also proven, time and again, to be a high-risk one. “Gonna put y’all back in chains!” “The middle class that’s been buried the last four years!” “How in the Lord’s name can they justify raising their taxes with these tax cuts?”

Obama has – or had? – deep reserves of favorability and personal likeability to help him weather the storms of daily politics. Judging from his favorable ratings, Biden doesn’t have it, and may never have had it. And as with the Lebanon hallucination above, Biden may… let’s say, misremember some of the finer points of the policies he’s defending or attacking. Sarah Palin, trying to get up to speed on every national issue under the sun, wasn’t going to call out Biden on getting past foreign policy wrong. But Paul Ryan might do just that if given the opportunity. And for the 69-year-old six-term senator to get corrected by the young guy… well, that would reinforce a whole lot of negative perceptions about Joe Biden – perhaps even serious questions as to whether Biden really is the right man to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

While the Obama campaign can ride out a contentious, tied Biden-Ryan debate or a boring Biden-Ryan debate, a bad Biden-Ryan debate would reinforce the suddenly pervasive perception of an incumbent campaign in a tailspin.

Biden can’t save Obama from the problems created by the first debate; only Obama can save himself – meaning there’s limited upside, and enormous downside, for the vice president to go out on that stage convinced he has to make magic happen, determined to swing for the fences.

The strange dynamic of Obama’s debate pratfall is that it can really only be addressed, and fixed, in his own two forthcoming debate performances. Voters feeling iffy, or newly skeptical about President Obama aren’t going to jump back on the bandwagon because the president has good rallies or a good commercials. Some significant chunk of the 70 million watched President Obama and recoiled, sensing that the president wasn’t all that interested in making the case for himself, his record, and his policies, seeming to believe the entire debate process was beneath him.

Tags: Joe Biden , Paul Ryan

Liberals Always Believe Implausible Tales of GOP Disarray



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From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Politico Columnist Writes Anti-GOP Satire; Lefties Completely Fooled, Repeat as Fact

You want to talk cocooning?

When Roger Simon wrote in Politico Wednesday that Paul Ryan’s new nickname for Mitt Romney is “Stench,” a number of news outlets — from MSNBC to Mediaite — took it seriously.

Simon told BuzzFeed: “Some people always don’t get something, but I figured describing PowerPoint as having been invented to euthanize cattle would make the satire clear. I guess people hate PowerPoint more than I thought.”

Among those fooled? Paul Krugman.

The thing is, every cycle we see this sort of thing. Back in 2004, this Democratic Underground post was making the rounds in the final days:

Sent: Saturday, October 30, 2004 9:51 PM

To: Class of 1976 discussion group.; Class of 1976 discussion group.

Subject: RE: Notes from a friend on what Kerry’s team is saying

ok, got a call on my cell phone this am while taking my son to hockey. my friend in the kerry campaign spoke late last night with mark mehlman of the bush team. mehlman was a roomate of my friend when they were both at the harvard law school. they are at opposite ends of the politcal spectrum, but are very good friends.

mehlman says the bush team is in “major melt down” because their polling has them losing in ohio and florida, so they are in a mad dash to pull something out in the upper midwest. michigan isn’t really in play. he called it a “head fake”. wisconsin is slipping away, bush spoke in green bay today to less than 5,000 people (kerry drew 80,000 in madison on thursday). iowa has the numbers potentially but they’ve focused on it way too late, after the dems had a massive absentee push, so iowa is unlikely. they can’t win with minnesota alone and even that state doesn’t look good. 

mehlman says that there is incredible discord at the top. cheney is absolutley livid with rove on the overall strategy (“we peaked too soon you bastard”) and with karen hughes for not adequately preparing bush for the debates (“he looked like a g** d***** mental patient”). cheney is apparently a “real monster”. the rnc doesn’t know what to do because they can’t get any clear direction from the top. mehlman says that bush’s slide in their polls began about three weeks before the debates when kerry when into attack mode with major foreign policy speeches at nyu and at a national guard convention, the day after bush spoke. the slide accelerated big time after the debates, “everyone was as bad as the first with no let-up in free fall” according to mehlman. cheney freaked during the first debate, convinced that bush “‘lost the f****** election in front of 65 million people”. Now they simply don’t have the numbers to win in Florida, have not got their ducks in a row to “deflect” the massive number of early voters and are having real trouble maintaining the base in Florida and elsewhere (“our people are just turning away”). in ohio they’ve been simply overwhelmed with the new voter registrations and have been unsuccessful in court challenges. bush’s number actually go now when he visits ohio after Treasury Secretary Snow’s comments in the state that job losses were a “myth”. Additionally many repubs are pissed about the financial proligacy of Bush and Cheney and their incompetence in Iraq, so a lot are simply going to “take a pass”, read not vote. bush apparently has been totally “out of it” believing Rove and Hughes that everything was fine and that victory was assured, but is finally and slowing catching on that he might lose this thing. yesterday morning when made aware of the bin laden tape in nh, simply said. “It’s over.”

The first clue that entire above message is BS: Bush’s campaign manager was KEN Mehlman, not Mark Mehlman.

As we all know, none of the above “rumors” were true. I reprint all that to illuminate how people are A) willing to make up elaborate tales of chaos in the opposition  in order to boost morale on their own side and B) how credulous people are when they hear what they want to hear – i.e., the other guys are hapless and doomed, the public is breaking to our side, a landslide victory is at hand, etc.

Tobin Harshaw:            

As Ben Smith of Buzzfeed, a former Politico blogger, tweeted: “So uh a lot of people seem not to have picked up that @politicoroger’s column was satire.” Put more succinctly by conservative blogger JammieWearingFool: “Satire should actually be funny.”

Or, at least it should be pretty obvious. There is no underestimating the literal-mindedness of the American reader: Years ago when I worked at the Times we published a satirical op-ed column by Steve Martin riffing on the idea that a NASA Mars probe had discovered millions of kittens on the Red Planet. Shortly thereafter, a subscriber sent a terse letter to the editor asking us to “inform your science correspondent” that the lack of oxygen on Mars made kitten infestation highly unlikely.

Naturally, no writer wants to put a blinking sign indicating “This Is a Joke” above his or her parody piece. But editors should realize that if there is even a chance that such a sign is necessary, it’s probably best to spike the whole idea. Otherwise, you might end up fooling a lot of people, maybe even a Nobel Prize winner.

In Simon’s defense, it’s not that hard to fool Paul Krugman.

A lot of people believe what they want to believe because they see what they want to see.

Tags: Paul Krugman , Paul Ryan , Politico

Gillespie: Romney’s Message of Week is Need for ‘Dynamic Growth Economy’



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Romney adviser Ed Gillespie held another conference call with reporters this morning.

“We need a real recovery,” Gillespie began. “As Congressman Ryan has said, this is not what a real recovery looks like. We need a real recovery, one that generates 12 million new jobs, unleashes American energy and opens new markets for our goods and services, and gives people opportunity. We’re going to emphasize this clear choice and the sharp contrast between the two visions going forward. Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan are going to emphasize all of that this week, talking about the benefits of the Romney-Ryan plan for a stronger middle class and addressing the costs of Obama’s failed policies. The American people see those costs every day in the joblessness, the increased poverty, the skyrocketing federal debt, the higher prices, the lower household incomes that cause them to live paycheck to paycheck, and falling home prices.”

“This message emphasis this week will be on that big choice before the American people, between a dynamic growth economy or a stagnant economy that fosters government dependence. We believe that as we head into debate season, and Americans will begin seeing these two candidates side by side for the first time, we think that this emphasis on this stark choice will be critical to how they decide to vote in November.”

Romney and Ryan will be on a bus tour through Ohio this week.

I asked about Romney’s schedule – last week Byron York noticed that most days the GOP nominee was doing only one public event per day most days.

“He has been doing a lot of events per day, but a lot of them are fundraising events,” Gillespie said. “Governor Romney is the first Republican nominee for president to run outside the public finance system, to not take the public money. Obviously, we have to complete with a very well-funded Obama machine on the other side. That does mean that you end up having to do events that are sometimes outside the target states  — I don’t think anyone considers Utah to be on the target state list – but it was an important event for us, to be able have the resources to be competitive with the advertising and expenditures necessary, to be competitive with the Obama campaign in those target states.”

“We’re going to reach a point here, hopefully soon, where we’ll have the resources we need to carry us through November 6, and we won’t need to do those finance events. Those also entail travel, getting to those events, and we’ll be able to concentrate on being in target states for longer stretches of time, and able to do more political events as opposed to finance events. We’re all looking forward to that moment in time.”

Tags: Campaign Fundraising , Ed Gillespie , Mitt Romney , Paul Ryan

Coming to Charlotte This Week: Democrats Behaving Badly!



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From the first Morning Jolt of convention week . . .

Coming This Week: Democrats Behaving Badly!

Massachusetts Democratic-party Chairman John Walsh, discussing GOP Sen. Scott Brown at a breakfast meeting Monday: “He’s a regular guy. I mean, he spent a couple million dollars folding towels on TV to prove he’s an honorary girl. We appreciate that.” This was a reference to a television ad of Brown’s, in which he is seen folding laundry.

Finally, an actual example of the war on women!

“In the excitement of getting the convention underway and getting the message out about how important it is to reelect President Obama and elect Elizabeth Warren, I made a statement about Scott Brown that I regret, “ Walsh said. “I apologize for that remark.”

Well, that’s probably just those reckless Massachusetts Democrats shooting their mouths off. I’m sure those California Democrats are much more level-headed . . . oh, wait . . .

Reuters: “A top California Democratic official on Monday compared Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan to Nazi Germany’s infamous propagandist Joseph Goebbels, drawing rebukes from both parties the day before the Democratic Party’s nominating convention formally begins.”

Ryan told “a bold-faced lie and he doesn’t care that it was a lie. That was Goebbels, the big lie,” Burton told reporters.

“That obviously doesn’t reflect the views of the campaign,” said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt. “That doesn’t have any place in the political discourse in Charlotte.”

“I get where Burton is coming from,” tweets Josh Barro. “This morning, a flight attendant told me she was out of Diet Coke and I compared her to Goebbels. It happens.”

Which would you rather have? A media that is so biased against your side of the aisle that they jump up and down and scream bloody murder over any error or potential error, or a media that is so in the tank for your side that your party’s leaders have grown completely complacent, to the point of reckless, in their public comments?

Before you say you’d prefer bodyguard-style media coverage, keep in mind that with that approach, you end up with leaders like Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I mean… the cream doesn’t exactly rise to the top in that scenario, does it?

Obviously, I’m not a Democrat, but if I were, I’d like to think I would want to be led by the likes of Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, maybe former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

So one cheer for media bias: It helps Republicans weed out the weakest links . . . sometimes.

Tags: Democrats , Media , Paul Ryan

Where Has This Guy Been All Campaign?



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The final Morning Jolt of an exhausting convention week in its entirety — now subscribe if you haven’t, so the Powers That Be don’t nudge me to leave something for subscribers in future editions:

Who Are You, and What Did You Do With the Old Mitt?

At times, he was scary good.

No, really, where has that Mitt Romney been all year? All campaign? Since 2007?

Every time he’s given a nice speech after a primary victory, I would usually joke on Twitter, “ah, looks like those new personality software upgrades are working out, he sounds much more natural now,” or something like that. (It’s a perennial; as Erick Erickson said last night, “Romney v.6.5 is pretty awesome.”)

But the Mitt Romney we saw tonight . . . it’s as if he had been saving up every bit of his inner emotional life, his soft, sentimental side, and let it all out. This was a speech that requires us to reexamine what we think we know about Romney. He might be a guy who is just spectacularly focused, and remarkably capable and adaptable. And in each objective in Romney’s life — at Bain, in Massachusetts, in his past campaigns — he has done, and adapted, to whatever the situation requires. And so when people say he’s stiff, or boring . . . remember that he’s never really needed to be “humanized” before now. Or people like you and I have urged him to do it, but he hasn’t really needed to do it . . . until this moment. Right around now, the casual voters start paying attention.

And then he told the story of his father leaving a rose for his mother on her bedside table every day until he died.

And then he mentioned about how he and Ann wish they could have one more day of their sons being young, and rambunctious, and all wrestling with each other. (I wonder if he was aiming for the been-away-for-his-sons-for-nearly-a-week-convention-correspondent demographic.)

And then he gently ribbed his rival by contrasting Obama’s grandiose pledge to lower the oceans and heal the earth . . . against a simple promise to help you and your families.

Ross Douthat: “It was a highly effective reintroduction to Romney the man, w/absolutely nothing in it to make Americans nervous about voting for him.”

Tabitha Hale: “Suddenly this doesn’t feel like 2008 anymore.”

2. The Rest of the Thursday Speakers

We’ve heard quite a bit about the need to “humanize” Romney. I suppose this comes from the sense of not knowing what a politician is like when they’re not on camera, when they’re not on stage, when the applauding crowds have all gone home, and when it’s just him and those who have known him since before he was famous.

Every once in a while, you hear stories of Mitt Romney that suggest he’s just the nicest, kindest, most warm-hearted guy in the world — almost too good to be true. And yet, on the campaign trail, that comes through all so rarely. I’ve speculated that young Mitt saw his father’s political career get immolated by one stray comment and the ruthless knives of the Nixon operation, and came away with a desire to never show too much to the eyes of the public. Even when he’s speaking off the cuff he seems scripted.

America, meet Ted and Pat Oparowski:

In 1979, tragedy struck our family when our youngest son, David, age 14, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Over a period of seven months, he was in and out of Children’s Hospital in Boston for treatment. Throughout that agonizing period, Mitt took time from his busy schedule to visit David. They developed a loving friendship.

On one of his visits, Mitt discovered that David was very fond of fireworks. He went out and bought a box full of “BIG TIME” fireworks that had to sit on the closet shelf because they couldn’t be set off in the city. We waited until we were able to go to Ogunquit, Maine, where we set them off on the sand dunes — with permission from the fire and police departments.

Through that simple but thoughtful gift, Mitt brought joy to a young boy who hadn’t experienced any for too long. He also gave the rest of us a welcome release.

On another visit, David, knowing Mitt had gone to law school at Harvard, asked Mitt if he would help him write a will. He had some prized possessions he wanted to make sure were given to his closest friends and family.

The next time Mitt went to the hospital, he was equipped with his yellow legal pad and pen. Together, they made David’s will. That is a task that no child should ever have to do. But it gave David peace of mind.

So, after David’s death, we were able to give his skate board, his model rockets, and his fishing gear to his best friends. He also made it clear that his brother, Peter, should get his Ruger .22 rifle.

How many men do you know would take the time out of their busy lives to visit a terminally ill 14 year old and help him settle his affairs?

David also helped us plan his funeral. He wanted to be buried in his Boy Scout uniform. He wanted Mitt to pronounce his eulogy. Mitt was there to honor that request. We will be ever grateful to Mitt for his love and concern.

Jeff Greenfield: “Is there any doubt those affecting, moving stories of Romney’s kindnesses will be seen via TV ads? (Remember ‘Ashley’s Story’ from 2004?)”

Then we got our mystery guest . . . Clint Eastwood.

It . . . was odd. Not consistently terrible as some argued. I have no doubt some folks loved it. It may very well have actually moved some votes. But boy, did it get weird at times.

First, Eastwood looks old. But even more than that, he used no notes or script, and his remarks appeared to be stream of consciousness. Dirty Harry’s first two shots were through each of the teleprompters. He pretended to be having a conversation with Obama, except I don’t know if he ever clearly set up the premise, so it seemed like he was hearing voices. But then every time he came up to the edge of the cliff, and you thought the segment would be an absolute train-wreck . . . he pulled back with some great line: “I thought maybe it was just because somebody had the stupid idea of trying terrorists in downtown New York City.” “Politicians are employees of ours.” “Of course we all know Biden is the intellect of the Democratic party.” And if the aim of this convention is to persuade Obama voters of 2008 that it’s okay to vote for Romney in 2012, then maybe nothing said last night will be more powerful than Eastwood’s gravelly, “When somebody does not do the job, you’ve got to let them go.”

As for Rubio . . .

A few folks had wondered about the conventional wisdom that Rubio was on the short list. The reasons against are clear: He’s young; he looks even younger; he’s been in the Senate less than two years and who knows if he would be ready to be a heartbeat away from the presidency starting in January. But here’s why Rubio enjoyed future-presidential-candidate buzz from day one: He was one of the few 2010 candidates who ran on a national theme, why America is unique, why immigrants risk their lives to come here instead of the other way around, and why we endanger our future by adopting the policies of social-democrat, welfare-state governments in other countries instead of upgrading and updating the free-market approach that built so much prosperity for so many decades. He’s got the vision and he talks about big things, and it resonates with a lot of people both inside and outside the Republican party.

3. Life on the Convention Beat

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to cover a national political convention . . .

After sending off the Jolt, the workday begins by driving into the city. For much of the week, Garmin has imagined an exit from an overpass that does not exist. I get around easier with the Garmin than without, but boy, does Garmin’s feminine voice like to squeeze every bit of disappointment and condescension into every declaration of “Recalculating . . . Take first right . . . [Sigh] . . . Recalculating . . .” Once you’re downtown, it’s time to run the security gauntlet. Don’t get me wrong; every cop, Secret Service agent, National Guardsman, and every other person involved with security I’ve encountered so far has been a complete professional. But it is a bit dispiriting to have the bag searched, laptop removed, empty the pockets, walk through the magnetometer, get hand-wanded and so on several times a day — usually separate personal searches to enter the media center and the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the actual convention proceedings are being held. Mind you, this is within the security perimeter, where every vehicle has already been searched, every person has shown the appropriate lanyard pass several times, and so on. There’s often a drone of police helicopters, and if some of the Coast Guard helicopters come any lower, we’ll have haircuts. Kevin Williamson — the only NRnik who can alter his appearance to plausibly blend in with the Occupy Crowd; if NRHQ were a police precinct, most of us would look like lieutenants and detectives, while Kevin would be the undercover cop — had a thought on the security atmosphere:

[Convention organizers] have turned friendly little Tampa into something very unpleasantly resembling a prison camp, complete with rooftop patrols, combat gear, gunboats with weapons mounted on monopods, Green Zone-style barriers — the whole works. It is all very un-republican, though it has been conducted with a great deal more professionalism and courtesy than one experiences at the hands of the TSA. Still, it is kind of gross: Either this sort of thing is necessary or it is unnecessary, and neither possibility says anything good about the state of our republic.

In the media center, you run into just about everyone in the Washington journalism world — big names and small, former co-workers, former rivals on your beat, faces you recognize but can’t connect to a name. When going from Point A to Point B during convention time, you need to allocate time for the inevitable “Oh, hey, I haven’t seen you in forever!” chats. Sometimes I hear from readers their suspicions that Washington journalists are clubby and cliquish. Maybe some are, but I figure it’s a lot like any profession, and this is kind of like the annual trade show for any other business — you see the folks from past workplaces and campaigns that you really like and miss, the ones you don’t miss so much, the folks who always weird and now you wonder if they’ve gotten even weirder. (Journalism does not attract “normal” personalities. Some delightful personalities, some socially awkward and more comfortable with written words, and some genuinely unhinged personalities, but very few “normal” ones.) I’m reminded of Joan Cusack’s line about her high school reunion in Grosse Pointe Blank: “It was just as if everyone had swelled.” Then there are the politicians. I was stuck on a security line with Herman Cain. “Too bad you weren’t nominated, Mister Cain,” I said, meaning he wouldn’t be stuck in a security line. He gave me hearty back slap almost hard enough to dislodge a lung. “Thank you!” he said with a beaming smile. “Thankyouthankyouthankyou!” One of the highlights of Thursday for me was running into Woody Johnson of the New York Jets. If you’re a diehard supporter of both the GOP and Jets, you’re used to rooting for lost causes.

4. Addendum Nathan Wurtzel: “I’d say the convention did its job in terms of message. Now $500 million in paid ads will back it up.”

Tags: Clint Eastwood , Marco Rubio , Mitt Romney , Paul Ryan

On So Many Bedroom Walls Today . . .



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The image of the day:

The Obama 'Hope' poster, faded.

UPDATE: Heh, as Instapundit would say:

 

Tags: Barack Obama , Paul Ryan

On That Janesville Plant, Ryan’s Not Lyin’



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The first skirmish after Paul Ryan’s sterling speech last night involved his example of the GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin.

Ed Morrissey, Avik Roy, Guy Benson, and Shikha Dalmia are among those examining the offerings of the self-appointed “fact checkers” and finding them either mangling or botching the facts, or accusing Ryan of saying things he did not say.

First, the excerpt:

When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory.

A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: “I believe that if our government is there to support you. this plant will be here for another hundred years.”

That’s what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight.

A lot of liberal bloggers are insisting that the plant was “shut down” under the Bush administration. There’s the point when the orders for new vehicles stopped coming in, and the point when the plant actually completed its orders and stopped making them. One was in the closing months of the Bush administration, the other was in the opening months of the Obama administration: “The Janesville plant stopped production of SUVs in 2008 and was idled in 2009 after it completed production of medium-duty trucks.”

The plants are on “standby,” and some would dispute whether that means the factory is “lost.” But the bottom line is that people aren’t working there (other than whatever skeleton crew is sweeping the floors and maintaining the facility), they aren’t collecting pay, and they are “locked up and empty”: “Since they were shut down in 2009, both the Janesville and Tennessee plants have been on standby status, meaning they were not producing vehicles, but they were not completely shut down.”

Some lefties are jumping up and down and saying, “But Romney and Ryan opposed the GM bailout!” Yes, but that’s not a fact at issue. Ryan doesn’t claim that he and Romney would have, or even get into the bailout.

That section is beautifully constructed because it brings the listener to many conclusions implied but not stated: That the bailout overpromised and underdelivered, that Obama makes promises he can’t keep, and that the government is not to be relied upon to “support you.” The issue is less the GM bailout than the lack of genuine economic recovery. In the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story quoted above:

Auto industry observer David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Center for Automotive Research, said it would be premature to say the Janesville plant will never reopen.

“If we get back to any kind of a reasonable market, with 15- or 16 million sales, then I think that’s going to require Janesville as well,” he said.

But the economy is recovering more slowly than people anticipated. “That’s really the key factor,” Cole said. “You’re going to see the company be exceedingly cautious on overcapacity. And they obviously didn’t need a commitment for Janesville to get the UAW’s support.”

The problem for the Janesville plant isn’t the GM bailout. The problem is the national economy — the same problem that is preeminent in the minds of most voters this election.

And that’s the biggest problem for the Obama campaign with this entire debate and all of their arguments about precisely when the GM plant stopped making cars. Most voters will tune out the back-and-forth charges until the bottom line: “The plant in Janesville is still closed.”

Tags: GM , Paul Ryan

Is the U.S. Really Ready for Romney-Ryan Reforms?



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From today’s Morning Jolt, already in subscribers’ e-mailboxes . . .

Is the Country Ready for Genuine Romney-Ryan Reforms?

Periodically I’ll still feel a sense of disbelief that Paul Ryan is the Republican vice-presidential nominee.It’s not that it’s a bad choice by any stretch of the imagination — the last few weeks have shown us that.  But it sure as heck is a high-risk pick. The selection automatically made the Romney campaign’s mission in its first term to be entitlement reform and serious budget cuts. That’s always been easier in theory and rhetoric than in practice. There’s a reason politicians were terrified of entitlement reform for decades; cycle after cycle, Medi-scare tactics worked. They worked, and they worked, and they worked, no matter how badly the budgetary projections for that program and Medicare and Social Security worsened.

Tuesday night, Chris Christie said of the Democrats, “They believe seniors will always put themselves ahead of their grandchildren.” Well, they have a pretty good body of evidence for that belief.

Maybe it changes this cycle. I hope it does, and there’s quite a bit of evidence, so far, that the era of effective “Medi-scare” attacks is coming to an end. Politico, late last night:

Democrats thought Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal would shift the focus away from Mitt Romney, terrify the elderly and take places like Florida and other key states off the table.

That’s not happening. Not yet, anyway.

Polls and interviews show that for now, Romney’s selection of Ryan hasn’t fundamentally shifted the dynamics of a deadlocked race.

The polls leave no question that huge numbers of people oppose the core of Ryan’s plan. But they show something else too: Democrats haven’t yet been able to turn that opposition into a way to take down the Romney-Ryan ticket.

They’ve still got time, with millions of dollars in TV ads, three presidential debates and a vice presidential debate to chip away at Ryan. And the economy is still the most important issue for voters — so important that some voters who don’t like the Ryan Medicare plan may vote for Romney anyway because they like him better on the economy, pollsters say.

But Republicans have used years of attacks on the president’s health care law as a model for a fresh assault on Obama’s own Medicare record, charging that he cut the cherished entitlement program to pay for “Obamacare.”

And so far, that seems to have at least neutralized Democrats’ attacks on Ryan.

“Medicare just may not be the killer issue that a lot of people thought,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “That doesn’t mean it won’t be, but so far it is not.”

But we’re not out of the woods yet, and let’s remember what one of the central points of the Ryan plan is: WE DON’T CHANGE ANYTHING FOR SENIORS. One of the reasons the Ryan plan isn’t as toxic among seniors as other past entitlement-reform proposals is because it doesn’t actually change anything for the voting demographic that’s most reluctant to change anything.

Representative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers touted Ryan as “a man with the courage of his convictions, a man not afraid to tackle the toughest problems.” He’s not the one I’m worried about!

Because Romney’s pick of Ryan really brought this election down to the core question: Are we willing to live with less government or not? Are we willing to turn away the free stuff offered by Leviathan or not? Are we willing to do things for ourselves, or do we like that siren’s call of government being Santa Claus, offering us everything we want, and promising somebody else will pay for it?

We’ve all heard of how some Republicans don’t live up to the ideals of limited government — farm-state conservatives who deem their ethanol subsidies and farm price supports as vital, the companies that love their special provisions in the tax code, regulations, and what we call “corporate welfare”; the Republican congressmen who still cling (bitterly?) to their earmarks and pork. If it doesn’t end — our wasteful crap and their wasteful crap — the future of the country is shot.

Considering how the crowd ROARED when Ryan said, “we welcome this debate. We will WIN this debate,” the Republicans, at least the ones in Tampa, are ready to put this choice before the country.

Tags: Medicare , Mitt Romney , Paul Ryan , Social Security

Ryan and Rice: The Most Reaganesque Addresses in a Long Time?



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Each convention, I debate whether I want to be in the convention hall or watch on television, to see the speech as millions of Americans will see it. Last time around, I was in the hall for Sarah Palin’s speech, and was pretty darn glad I was — witnessing history.

Tonight it feels the same. What was really amazing is that Condi Rice came on earlier in the night and knocked the cover off the ball. Like everyone else, I figured her appearance in a fairly plum spot was sort of an extended tribute to the Bush years, the need for a foreign-policy speech, a high-profile African-American woman . . . nope. Completely misjudged this one. Condi Rice set off a round of Rice-for-veep talk earlier this year after she blew the doors off a gathering of Romney staff and donors in Utah. Now we see why. Fantastic vision, pitch-perfect tone, a grand portrait of the greatness of America and the challenges before it. Majestic stuff.

As fantastic as it was, I suspect in the backs of the minds of many Republicans was the thought, “Great . . . how does Paul Ryan go out and top that?”

If Paul Ryan didn’t top Rice’s masterpiece, he at least equaled it. This speech, and his warmth and sense of connection when delivering it, almost unnerved me. I started worrying that I was seeing what I wanted to see, that I was hyping a pretty good speech delivered pretty well in my own mind. Except my Twitter feed was exploding. The delegates were going nuts. And it just seemed to be getting better and better as it went on. Conversational, direct, funny, detailed . . . this was Reaganesque, guys. I was a kid when Reagan was president, so I got lulled into a false sense of what American presidents were — I thought they were all that good. This felt like that.

“College grads shouldn’t have to live out their 20s in childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters.”

Wow.

Tags: Condi Rice , Paul Ryan

DNC Vice Chair: That $700 Billion Isn’t ‘Necessary or Essential’ to Medicare



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Vice-chair of the DNC Hispanic Caucus, Andres Ramirez, discusses the $700 billion at issue in the Medicare debate with King of Nevada Political Coverage Jon Ralston, and declares that, “Both campaigns are consistent that that money, in and of itself, is not necessary or essential in the Medicare budget.”

Score a point for Mr. Ramirez; whether or not you agree with his assessment that Medicare doesn’t really need that $700 billion, he at least avoids the ’my $700 billion in cuts are necessary, rational, and helpful, while your $700 billion in cuts are unnecessary, irrational, and harmful’ line that characterizes most partisan disputes over entitlement reforms.

Of course, since Ramirez has just posited that the $700 billion in Medicare funding isn’t necessary, it does tend to undermine the argument coming from other Democrats that Ryan is the granny-pushing fiscal tightwad out to destroy the Medicare program.

This is much better to hear from Ramirez than the last time he appeared on our radar screens, declaring of Romney, “this Gringo doesn’t speak our lingo.”

Tags: DNC , Medicare , Paul Ryan

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