A few weeks ago, I floated a crazy idea — Mitt Romney should pick Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s Attorney General, for his running mate. Basically, I saw Cuccinelli as a pick to placate the Republican base, giving Romney to freedom to tack to center in the general election. And I saw a Romney/Cuccinelli pick as a dangerous ticket.
Well, this morning Romney made his choice. Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
On the right, Republicans are beside themselves with glee — a true blue, drown-government-in-a-bathtub, Ayn Rand devotee is on the ticket. On the left, Democrats are beside themselves with glee — Mitt Romney, the living embodiment of the 1 percent, and Paul Ryan, the budget guru who pays fealty to the 1 percent, are on the ticket.
To be quite honest, I’m frightened of the Romney/Ryan ticket.
You read Jonathan Chait’s profile of Ryan from several months ago or Ryan Lizza’s profile of Ryan from earlier this week, and you get a pretty good vision of what Ryan believes in. If you think that government should be toothless and serve the m0neyed interests, if you think the social safety net is a bad thing, if you think social darwinism is the pinnacle of civilization, then Paul Ryan is your man.
You’d think this would be an easy sell to voters. You like Medicare? Don’t vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket. You like public education? Don’t vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket. You like maintained highways? Don’t vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket. You like Curiosity and want more like it? Don’t vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket. In short, if you like the things that government does for, then you shouldn’t vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket.
However, this isn’t an easy sell. People simply don’t believe that Romney and Ryan’s budget priorities are what they say they are. Chait has the perfect summation in a related article:
In the same passage, Draper explains that Burton and Sweeney couldnt effectively sell voters on Romneys support of the Ryan plan, since cutting Medicare in order to clear budgetary headroom for tax cuts for the rich, while an accurate description of the Ryan plan, struck those voters as so cartoonishly evil that they found the charge implausible. ([T]he respondents simply refused to believe any politician would do such a thing.)
Even when told the truth about what Romney and Ryan want to do, people refuse to believe it.
What doesn’t help matters is the propensity of the Republican ticket to lie. Despite evidence to the contrary, Paul Ryan denies that he’s an Objectivist. And the easiest way to see if Mitt Romney is lying is to see if the day ends in the letter Y. (Check out the latest of Steve Benen’s “Chronicling Mitt’s Mendacity and work your way backward from there.)
So, not only do people not believe that Mitt Romney will do what he says he’ll do (because it strikes them as proposterous), but he’s also demonstrated an unending willingness to divorce himself from reality for his own political gain.
There’s nothing “cartoonishly evil,” to use Chait’s phrase, about this. It’s genuinely frightening that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are willing and able to lie their way into the Oval Office by playing upon the gulliability of the electorate.