This seems to me to be politically insane. Ryan is the guy who wanted to end Medicare and replace it with a fundamentally different program based on vouchers whose value would not increase at the same rate as health care costs. The one concession to the clearly expressed will of the vast majority of the US was to call the new program Medicare. This tricked no one except for a couple of fact checkers. This was political fratricide, since it lead to a Democrat winning a special election in upstate New York.
Why did Romney do it ? It is as if he is still running for the nomination. I think it is not satisfactory to argue that he has no spine, balls, guts or other internal organs and so does what right wing Republicans tell him to do. For one thing, that just shifts the question to why are they attempting political suicide (look I’d really prefer Bernie Sanders in the White House to Barack Obama but I’m not stupid enough to vote for him in a Presidential primary, because I don’t want a Republican in the White House).
I think of all of the apparent dog wistling about how Obama doesn’t understand America. I suspect that it might not be cynical or strategic after all. What if they really think that most people in the USA agree with them ? If they think that most people in the US believe that obtaining great wealth is proof that one is a benefactor to humanity, so criticism of, say top bankers is unamerican, then they would think that Obama is out of touch.
If Republicans really think that what they need is an ultraconservative who is willing (eager even) to make ultraconservative policy proposals, then they don’t understand America. If they are living in their Foxbubble dream world, then they might sincerely think that Obama is out of touch. He is out of touch with their fantasy America.
For one thing it isn’t just Republican politicians. I recall sincerely shocked comments on an earlier post here in which I linked to the Gallup polls going back to 1992 showing that depending on the poll solid to huge majorities of respondents say that rich people and corporations pay less than their fair share of taxes. This fact hid in plain sight for decades. Almost all commentators agreed that Americans reject calls to soak the rich as class warfare (even those who lamented this perceived view) until the standard Gallup poll was supplemented by numerous* polls showing that most US adults wanted higher taxes on the rich. Somehow elite opinion about puglic opinion managed to be totally wrong.
Similarly, the VSPs all agree that Socialsecurityandmedicare are a huge problem (left of center Michael Kinsley called it our worst problem — evidently worse than cancer). A huge majority of US adults oppose any cuts to Social Security or Medicare. Following the views of the majority is considered unstatesmanlike cheating so thta true criticisms of plans to eliminate Medicare (I use the work with its conventional meaning just as I use all words) are rated to be outrageous lies. The outrage is against the VSP villager consensus.
But back to the Republicans. Somehow they don’t seem to have noticed that they blew a hard to blow opportunity to win the Senate too in 2010 by nominating extremists (some of whom won). They either don’t know about the polls showing vast majorities disagreeing with them or they are sure that if they just had a chance to explain their views to the public, the public would be convinced.
This reminds me of vague memories of the ultra-left in the very early 70s (and really vague memories of the late 60s). The new left was convinced that they spoke for The People even though the vast majority of, you know, people in the USA absolutely disagreed with them. They thought that their problem was that the establishment kept their arguments from the people. But they were kids. Also the establishment did keep their views from most of the people. Somehow conservative Republicans have managed to convince themselves that someone is suppressing their arguments when they are covered by the mainstream media and on top of that have their own TV network plust a gigantic think tank/propaganda mill budget.
Of course I can’t avoid the fear that I am totally out of touch. But I mean look at the polls.