The Ryan response

… was predictable, partisan, pessimistic, and dull.

… was predictable, partisan, pessimistic, and dull.

And he looked and sounding if he were running for President of the Senior Class.

I wonder whether the fear of being outflanked by Michelle Bachmann, the Crown Princess of Wingnuttia, helped sharpen Ryan’s ideological edge. But I have to believe it’s good for the Democrats – insofar as anyone bothered to watch.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

21 thoughts on “The Ryan response”

  1. Ryan's speech wasn't very impressive, but he certainly wasn't outflanked by Bachmann.

    Her speech was laughable. I know this because I laughed at it.

  2. I agree with all of what Mark said. I would, however, like to add a few things:

    First, it's incredibly irritating, from both a political and intellectual level, to deal with Ryan using figures in the way he did. Take this line, for instance: ""Since taking office, President Obama has signed into law spending increases of nearly 25% for domestic government agencies – an 84% increase when you include the failed stimulus." I'm sure that isn't simply made up, but it's so horribly skewed that it should make anyone not creating propaganda blush. There's using numbers and percentages to make a point, and then there's this.

    Second, why oh why did he have to invoke Greece and the other countries? That's the sort of rhetoric that is bound to do more harm than good.

    Third, maybe it's me, but Ryan gives off the aura of a creepy cult leader. I know that isn't a nice thing to say, but I kept on feeling like I was about to be asked to put on a white robe and drink some special punch.

    Fourth, while Obama's speech wasn't heavy on details, as a political move, it was good, possibly even great. Just count how many times people refer to his ideas as moderate or centrist in the next few days.

    Also, there's this from Sen. Scott Brown: "It wasn't a ra-ra speech but it was balanced and it hit on a lot of good points…As a Republican I'm looking forward to working with him and finding some common ground to move our country forward." Compare that to this from Sen. John Cornyn on Twitter: "In Texas we prefer straight talk and promises kept, over grandiose pledges and zero results." Something tells me someone realizes he might be in for some trouble in 2012.

  3. Dull, I can live with. Rhetorical flair doesn't impress me much when it comes from somebody proposing a spending freeze AND a laundry list of new spending at the same time. Heck, even a spending freeze is too much spending, if it's just locking in the unsustainable 'stimulus' spending as the new baseline.

  4. Yep, style without substance is useless in my book, which is exactly what we heard delivered from Obama last night. Of course part of his rhetoric involved groveling to the center, which just must irk liberals to no end. Nobody's buying it though.

  5. Bux, as a liberal, I feel that, if Obama is not truly groveling to the center, it is only because he never was a liberal in the first place. Even Dick Cheney is praising him these days.

  6. As usual Brett has it right. It's never very likely that an incumbent President loses re-election, but if you guys just keep drinking the Kool-aid, it might happen. After 1994, Clinton walked the talk but Obama has been too cute by half. His words may make the guys on the left feel swarmy, but his policies are still toeing the progressive line, other than in Afghanistan, where a consensus is building that the management of that engagement is a fiasco. Especially weak was his "regulation walk back" – no substance on any meaningful regulations impacting business and the economy. The right is still highly energized, don't be fooled by the post – election hibernation.

    As for Rep. Ryan, his next political choice will be a difficult one – whether to keep his powerful House Budget Chair or run for the Senate.

  7. I wonder if Chris Matthews got a tingle in his leg last night. And then there was date night last night. How cute.

  8. The thing about Ireland and Greece (in particular) is the extent to which their problems are wholly irrelevant to the U.S.:they don't control their currency, and, moreover, those pulling the currency strings have, for a long time now, been doing so in a way that is demonstrably not advantageous to either of those countries. Ireland was fiscally responsible — its difficulties are the result of its failure to regulate not its propensity to overspend, and its all but forced capitulation to the demands of French and German authorities trying to save their own financial institutions. Greece, by contrast, was totally profligate and suffers from overregulation as well as public overspending and lied about its public debt and was able to prop itself up with the help of Wall Street types.

    Ireland could just as easily have been Iceland, rebounding nicely, if only it had its own currency and the stones to stand up to major European powers.

    These aren't little details — they are everything. Ryan knows this and doesn't care or is just an idiot. Most likely both.

  9. Redwave72, unless Herb Kohl (D-WI) retires, Ryan won't run for U.S. Senate in 2012. Kohl is 75, but he seems to be in good health and able to serve in a body that has more than its share of elder statesmen.

  10. I watched La Bachmann's re-rebuttal last night. I was looking for comic relief, and was (mostly) disappointed. She popped out none of her usual complete misunderstandings of the Constitution and history. The only thing that was remotely a WTF moment was her paean to Iwo Jama, whatever Iwo Jama is (I know what the Battle of Iwo Jima is, and where the islet is on the map. Iwo Jama, not so much.) Her constant looking into another camera was pretty amusing too.

    Ryan's rebuttal struck me as Kenneth the Congressman trying to be Kenneth the Governor, and failing. What is it with Republicans and this sing-song delivery thing? Combine an inept delivery with a speech almost free of actual facts, relevant comparisons and concrete proposals, and you have an incompetent snoozer.

  11. I didn't see Ryan as a cult leader, but rather a shoe salesman. And callow. He needs much more work if he is going to be the Poster Boy.

    And I watched poor Bachmann for the entertainment value, and was not disappointed. A bonus entertainment value was observing the horrid coverage on CNN. Every once in a while we must be reminded why one should avoid most cable entertainment like the plague.

  12. And he looked and sounding if he were running for President of the Senior Class.

    No pimples…

    But I kept thinking he was sitting on a copy of Atlas Shrugged to make himself look bigger…

  13. Bux,

    If that AP article is the best you can do ypu're in trouble. The most significant issue it raises is:

    The idea that Obama's health care law saves money for the government is based on some arguable assumptions.

    To be sure, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated the law will slightly reduce red ink over 10 years. But the office's analysis assumes that steep cuts in Medicare spending, as called for in the law, will actually take place. Others in the government have concluded it is unrealistic to expect such savings from Medicare.

    So there are some differences of opinion? Let's look further. Now, I'm sure you hate Krugman, etc., since he has a habit of pointing out that Republican ideas tend to ignore reality, but you might take a look at the points he raises.

  14. I've got to agree with Redwave that the right is highly energized. Who benefits from this energy is uncertain. If Boehner can control this energy, the Republicans benefit mightily. But if he can't–and Bachmann's speech is a sign of this–Obama will ride this energy right into 270+ votes in the Electoral College. Remember, the Tea Party polls less well than socialism.

  15. If Boehner can control the energy, the institutional Republican party stands to benefit. If he can't, Republicans might benefit, instead.

    Hm, I'd like to see that poll showing the Tea party less popular than socialism…

  16. I'm slow. It took me 24 hours to pick up on the humor behind Obama's theme last night of Winning The Future (WTF). Yep, there sure were a lot of WTF moments last night. An apt theme. Some speech writer really didn't think that one through.

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