Mitt Romney – presumptive GOP nominee and Mattel poster boy extraordinaire – has finally announced his vice presidential pick. Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan is the man of the hour, it seems. And what a perfect pair they make: just stick a blonde wig on Ryan’s head, strap a purse to his shoulder, and you’ve basically got that classic dollie duo doing battle with the dude who says the most batshit crazy things off-teleprompter. Another election brought to you by the splendor-iffic, manufactured Candidate Generator™. It’s robo-tastic.
“Replace and repeal.” “No, health care for all.” “Let’s take back America.” “Shut up, you hate old people.” “Well, you’re just a European-style, Marx-loving Fabian.” “Oh, yeah? Well, you’re a baby-killing social Darwinist.” “I’m not the one who cut $700 billion from Medicare.” “Your plan’s worse ‘cause, erm – privatization.” “We need real leadership in Washington.” “You shipped jobs to India. Where are teh tax returnz?” “Well I’m a leader who wants America to succeed, and I will lead because I’m a leader who leads like a leader.” “Well I want America to succeed, too.” “We’re going to create jobs. We’re going to bring back prosperity and freedom and prosperity and freedom and prosperity – oops.” “A-ha! You want to slash food stamps to make Wall Street, erm, more rich. Have you no heart?” “Well you want to spread the wealth around to Solyndra and GM, tree-hugger.” “Oh, yeah, well … tax cuts for billionaires. That’s wrong vision for America. I not want poor people not happy.”
We can expect another vicious cycle of mind-numbingly stupid bumper-sticker sloganeering and shameless pandering to the gimme-what-I’m-entitled to, Red Team-Blue Team American electorate. Yes, this is what politics has been reduced to. Such is our sad state of affairs.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you sliced open one of these contender’s heads with a scalpel and found a bunch of flashy buttons, mechanical gears, and wires inside. I honestly wouldn’t. Something about a broken record. Guh, I forget the old adage. These people repeat the same old scripted material until we say, “If you shut your yap, maybe I’ll vote for you.”
All joking aside, Ryan may not be some precarious vampire who prowls around at night, hungry for the blood of senior citizens, crippled orphans, working moms, bald eagles, and koala bears – as the Progressive blogosphere would have us believe. In fact, his budget-cutting, welfare-gutting, Tea Party bonafides are questionable. He is no Evil American Capitalist, conventional wisdom to the contrary.
Compared to the rest of clowns in Washington, though, he looks like Frederic von frigging’ Hayek. Save for, perhaps, Senator Rand Paul’s $500 billion department-dismembering wish-list, Ryan’s budget proposal from last year certainly took a more “slash and burn” approach to the federal Leviathan than most of his colleagues. So isn’t Ryan, like, the perfect card to play if Republicans want to mobilize the conservative base to the voting booths come November?
Erm, well … yes, if you think our memory only lasts about three seconds. The problem with our friend Paul is that he’s not the stalwart of fiscal conservatism and limited government that we see on C-SPAN or FOX News. It’s an acting gig, people. He’s not some austerity-promoting, taxpayer-defending advocate of fiscal discipline. He only plays one on TV.
Let’s take a quick glance at his voting record, shall we? Ryan voted for the trillion-dollar giveaway to mismanaged, risk-laden banks on Wall Street (the “TARP” bailouts, so called). He also voted for Medicare Part D, the biggest expansion of entitlement spending since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, which, even as that free-wheeling socialist Elizabeth Warren will admit, was a kickback for campaign bundlers and lobbyists in the pharmaceutical industry. He voted for the no-strings-attached troop escalations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Patriot Act, one of the final nails in the Bill of Rights as we know it. (What self-avowed champion of small government would be in favor of spying on American citizens, planting recording devices in living rooms and convertibles, and allowing unelected bureaucrats to read your emails and eavesdrop on telephone conversations? Ew.)
He also seems to view the Pentagon as something of a sacred, untouchable cow and supports ramping up defense expenditures in the name of national security – even though, as I’ve noted elsewhere, there’s a lot of waste, fraud, and abuse to be found in military appropriations bills, weapons systems, overseas embassies, and defense bureaucracies – just like with any other part of our overbloated government. Like, I don’t know – toilet plungers and gavels? Or embassies that look like a scene out of one of those tropical resort advertisements in the magazines? Don’t forget the $1 trillion at the Pentagon that basically dropped of the face of the earth. Woops.
On a positive note, Ryan’s budget plan did call for allowing seniors to purchase private insurance rather than having medical expenses paid for entirely through Medicare – as well as block granting Medicaid to states and trimming corporate subsidies, food stamps, and other welfare programs. But this plan wouldn’t balance the budget for another four decades or so, since it only reduces baseline spending, meaning the rate at which federal expenditures grow each year will slow down, but we’re not slamming on the breaks completely. These are cuts in projected spending increases, not spending as a whole. Ryan will admit as such. It’s sort of like what would happen if you asked for an XBOX 360, a Wii U, and a PS3, but only got the Wii U and PS3. If you were to then complain about having one of your game consoles “stolen” by your stingy, miserly, unloving parents, you’d pretty much be following the same line of logic as one of our Washington mathematicians.
In addition to all of these inconvenient truths, Romney is stepping on a political minefield with this one. Liberals have already formulated their talking points, pulled every trick in the bag, and are prepared to demonize and vilify Romney and his running mate as callous, “Ayn Randian” Social Darwinists who want to take health care away from old people, oppress the poor, and strip away worker protections just to line the wallets of their corporate donors from Big Oil, Big Pharma, and the rest. These characterizations obviously miss the mark, but liberals will exploit them nonetheless.
And what do you know, it’s time for my daily beati – I mean … cloud-counting … session. Um.
More on Romney’s VP selection within the next few days. Fare thee well.