Poor Salesman Great Grasp of Policy
I am aware of all internet traditions (with notably rare exceptions) and I think this might be another classic.
In a generally very good article in Politico Tim Alberta wrote “Ryan is poor salesman with a great grasp of policy” [skip] “After he unveiled the bill, leading health care experts on the right like Yuval Levin and Avik Roy trashed it as a poorly conceived mess; ”
So having a great grasp of policy is consistent with writing an immensely important poorly conceived mess. I am googling [Ryan salesman “great grasp of policy”] which only gives 142 results. Does seem twitter has taken over the snark industry. This thread burns. Also at least 1% of the US Senate took Alberta to task.
update: I was wrong. The classic is actually
So the fact that Ryan’s polics don’t withstand scrutiny shows that Ryan has a great grasp of policy. OK I fell for it. Tim Alberta is just trolling me. He. will. not. make. my. head. explode. No he won’t.
I think the crazy claim shows a few things. One is that conventional wisdom is invulnerable to evidence. Ryan has been declared a super wonk by the cool kids, so the assertion is riskless. Another is that Alberta wasn’t thinking about policy (he wrote almost nothing about the content of the AHCA). Another is that he assumes that the problem for Ryan with Levin and Roy was that he didn’t flatter them enough and not that his bill was a poorly conceived mess (the preceding sentence was “There was no such effort on Ryan’s part, and it showed. (Several allies argued he had done some outreach, but they failed to provide any specific examples.)”). Finally, symmetry is dangerously tempting. The whole crazy claim is “If the bill failed because Trump is a great salesman with a poor grasp of policy, it also failed because Ryan is a poor salesman with a great grasp of policy.” This is symmetry at the expence of accuracy. Ryan is a brilliant salesman who has a weak grasp of policy.
I foolishly said that ignoring policy and discussing inside baseball is what Politico does, then found out that they also published an excellent article by Harold Pollack “Paul Ryan Failed Because his Bill was a Dumpster Fire”
Trump is a salesman that is so arrogant he thinks he can sell a complex product without knowing the product or enlisting the help of experts. He is a terrible salesman. In my opinion, he is a marketer not a salesman. Details bore him, facts are distractions, all he thinks about is the commission. I have known many salesman like Trump. They look for one big score and move on. No one ever buys anything twice from these types of people. I would fire him if he was on my staff.
The comment that Ryan is a dumb person’s idea of a wonk hits the mark. I never understood why anyone mistook Paul Ryan for smart.
Like Joel, I never did figure out who in fact thought Ryan was smart. So if somebody on AB can link me to those who thought Ryan was smart please don’t hesitate in posting those links. I assume by “smart” were not taking about Breitbart editorials, Fox News pundits, or the WSJ editorial pages.
A note on Ryan’s logic as a salesman.
Ryan crafted a bill with the intent to pass it before the CBO even had a chance to evaluate and report. But had that occurred, then the Senate was exposed to the CBO report, in which case it would have been killed in the Senate anyway. But Ryan knew this so his stated intent to pass the bill by the House before the CBO report was published was rhetoric aimed simply to make it appear to be a ‘done deal” in the House.
But it wasn’t a done deal in the House and Ryan more than anybody knew this as well. I’ll get back to this in a moment.
Ryan’s knew a-priori his bill as he crafted it would cut millions of poor and needy out of any real form of affordable health care. Since he knew this up front but perhaps not the level of magnitude … though even a cursory quick analysis would show in the range of at least 10 million losing insurance,.
So Ryan had the time while crafting his bill to do more than get a cursory analysis of how many low and poor income earners would lose coverage.
But now note:
1) He never told the public of the cursory estimate of those numbers even by innuendo in vague terms.
2) He never told the public that he was “endeavoring” to or “waiting” for some estimates
So with that one can conclude (can only and must conclude) that Ryan didn’t care what the numbers of uninsured his bill would create if passed. By not care, I mean that it wasn’t relevant to the interests of the GOP leadership in obtaining passage.
Then what was relevant?
1) Reducing the costs of the ACA by replacing it. The savings mattered and had to be not insignificant to gain GOP passage.
2) .Eliminating the individual mandate in any real sense. The individual mandate has been and remains the major propaganda based issue with gov’t health systems… the most populist aspect with conservatives.
With these relevance’s, let me get back to the point that Ryan knew a-priori that the bill wasn’t in fact a ‘done deal’ for passage. It didn’t satisfy enough of the Freedom Caucus, and would have at least some lack of support on the other end with the Tuesday Group. He knew this before he made the bill public.,, long before he made it public.
So Ryan’s strategy for passage relied on two assumptions.. judgments.
1) That the lack of support by some on the far right and some of the centrists could be patched up enough to get at least enough votes for passage, but only if it was predicated by assumption # 2..
2) That the option of not passing his bill and thus leaving the ACA in-tact was not in the least bit palatable to even the Freedom Caucus or Tuesday Group in sufficient numbers to keep the bill from passing.
In other words Ryan assumed the ideological interest (eliminating Obama’s and the Dems “socialist” ACA) would over-ride any “minor” remaining adjustment issues the far right or centrists would have after patching up some of the differences between the two groups.
But that’s one take. I, on the other hand think that Ryan had more than enough experience and inside knowledge to know that the ideological interests would more than likely NOT be enough to over-ride the “minor” unpatchable differences between the Freedom Caucus and Tuesday Group.
In real terms then Ryan knew a-priori that the bill couldn’t pass or that it was very, very unlikely to be passed by the House. If that was the case then what must have been Ryan’s real interest in bringing the bill to Committees in the first place, much less bringing it to the floor for a vote?
The primary reason I think was that Ryan’s strategy is to undermine Trump and Bannon’s power (what-ever of it they have) and make it clear to the administration that Ryan will run the show his way. By failing to pass a signature GOP and Trump priority, and doing so as visibly as can possibly be done in the U.S. political arena, he made Trump look awful.. a President who has no persuasive capacity to coerce the congressional GOP. Trump is not a Reagan in other words.
Ryan makes Trump look like an amateur out of his element, thus also ineffective as a leader. Ryan takes a temporary hit in the short term to put Trump further behind in power and make sure Ryan is in control. Ryan’s job as speaker is safe.. nobody else can replace him (vote-wise) so his loss of passage of the bill, as public as he could possibly make it with intent and purpose is a temporary set-back for the speaker in the public’s eye.. though not in any political real politik.
I think Ryan has a bigger picture in mind. You can’t insure that the House or Senate retains a majority if you put 10 or 20 million people, at least half of which voted for the GOP, out of possible reach of affordable health care. That’s too big a risk to take this soon after the election. You can campaign on replacing the ACA again in the 2018 campaign with the same vote getting benefit campaigning against the ACA has had with the base for the last 7 years.
Think about it this way. To govern, the GOP congress needs to increase the size and ranks of the Freedom Caucus or increase the size and ranks of the Tuesday Group in the mid-terms. It cannot govern with the split as it currently stands. If the splits remain relatively the same (proportionally) they lose nothing relative to where they are now. So the bet Ryan is making is that the mid-term will promote either the far right to more power or to less power., so the Ryan can govern.
Trump is, to Ryan and the congressional leadership, an albatross of no particular benefit, so reducing Trump’s power is to Congress’s benefit in governance Trump will sign whatever legislation congress hands him.. that isn’t at risk. In four years at the next presidential election Ryan’s hope is that Trump’s power is near ‘nil with voters and the Establishment GOP can be brought back to power in the Oval Office.
That’s the objective.
Ryan is a great salesmen in the same sense as an anesthesologist is a great salesman to the patient lying on the operating table. The press is so desperate to buy what he is selling and say something good about him — balance, you know — that it ignores what a ridiculous excuse for a public servant he is. What has he ever sold other than this absurd image?
i always knew politics was devious, but i never imagined it could be that devious. I suspect you are probably right.
On the other hand, to answer the original question:
Paul Ryan was once asked to explain his claims about policy (I think it was Social Security policy.) He told the reporter, “You don’t want me to go all wonky on you.” The reporter slunk away.
Ryan didn’t want to go all wonky because he doesn’t know anything about Social Security or he is lying about it or both. But since the reporters don’t know anything either they are intimidated by someone who says “I am smarter than you.” And that is the sum of Ryan’s wonkiness.