The Ryan Backlash

Paul Ryan has struck a nerve. Because I imagine most NRO readers are Ryan fans, here are a few links critical of his speech at the Republican National Convention:

(1) Peter Suderman of Reason notes the contrast between the two Paul Ryans:

What we’re seeing is the war between two Paul Ryans. He has always been a conservative policy reformer as well as a good party soldier. But when the two have come into conflict, the party soldier has almost always won. That’s made him an effective politician, and helped him carry his policy case into the spotlight. But ultimately it will probably make him far less successful as a policy entreprenuer.

(2) Josh Barro of Bloomberg View offers a broader indictment of the speech, which among other things argues that

(a) Ryan’s attack on Obamacare fails to account for Romneycare;

(b) his critique of Obamacare’s Medicare cuts doesn’t sit easily with his own support of Medicare cuts;

(c) he faults the president for ignoring the Bowles-Simpson deficit commission, yet he voted against its recommendations;

(d) and while Josh believes that Ryan (and Romney) are right to criticize the Obama administration for being “out of ideas and adrift on economic policies,” he failed to offer convincing, concrete alternatives. 

(3) David Weigel offers his own litany of complaints and criticisms at Slate, which is, in my view, somewhat less compelling than the missives from Suderman and Barro, but its worth reading to get a sense of the arguments you will be hearing for the next few weeks.  

Much of the discussion in my little corner of the world has revolved around the closing of a GM manufacturing plant in Paul Ryan’s Janesville, WI. It turns out that the story of the plant is somewhat more convoluted than is commonly understood. David Shepardson of the Detroit News published an article earlier this month that takes Ryan task for having suggested that candidate Barack Obama promised to keep the Janesville plant open. Yet Shepardson also provides more context regarding the central barriers to reactivating the plant, which is technically on “standby.” Last year, Thomas Content and Joe Taschler of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had an article that ended on a telling note:

The commitment to open plants came despite firm statements to Wall Street investors and analysts last month that they were not looking to open plants until the industry was selling 16 million vehicles a year, said David Whiston, an auto industry analyst at Morningstar Inc. in Chicago.

It looks as though the most potent lines of attack against the Obama administration are that it did not move swiftly or aggressively enough to address the lingering consequences of the housing bust.

Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

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