For a party that’s supposedly so thrilled at the opportunity to run against Paul Ryan’s budget plan, the Democrats are spending an awful lot of time focusing on unrelated social issues. Here’s the DNC’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz hammering Ryan’s pro-life views in an email blast today (via Weekly Standard):
As a member of the House Budget Committee, I’ve seen firsthand just how extreme Paul Ryan is, so I’m not going to mince words: Paul Ryan in the White House would be a nightmare.
Over the last two years, we’ve seen an unprecedented number of attacks on a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions — and Congressman Ryan has been at the forefront of all of them.
He wants to end Medicare as we know it. He co-sponsored a radical “personhood” bill that could have banned the birth control pill, in vitro fertilization, and all abortions — even in cases of rape or incest. What’s more? He wants to allow states to criminally prosecute women who choose to have abortions and the doctors who perform them.
We cannot afford to let this man be a heartbeat away from the presidency.
There’s only so much mud the Democrats can sling at Paul Ryan’s deficit plan before the public starts to catch on that the Democratic Party has no plan for tackling the problem whatsoever. So they’re still going to have to continue to make this election about small issues — hence the completely irrelevant attack on Ryan’s views on abortion. Planned Parenthood is also ramping up its Paul Ryan fear mongering, lest the American people elect a pro-lifer “a heartbeat away from the presidency” (ignore the fact that Romney, who would be the actual president under this scenario, is also pro-life).
Republicans have been optimistic about their chances of making gains in the U.S. Senate this fall or perhaps even gaining control in the upper chamber. But a couple of races in the Northeast demonstrate just how grave the party’s problems have become. If Republicans had even a semblance of statewide party organization or talent, they might have had a chance to knock off Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, an undistinguished freshman whose transformation from moderate to liberal has attracted little notice since her surprise appointment to replace Hillary Clinton. But there is no New York Republican Party, so the little-known Gillibrand will skate to re-election this fall. But as infuriating as the utter collapse of a once vibrant New York GOP may be, in some ways the party’s dilemma in Connecticut is even worse.
It’s true that the Constitution State is as deep blue as New York and the rest of New England. But Republicans might have had a fighting chance to snatch the open seat that Joe Lieberman is leaving this fall. The likely Democratic nominee, Rep. Chris Murphy, is favored but is eminently beatable. But instead of nominating a Republican who might have a chance to steal a blue state seat, state Republicans are likely to choose a candidate in tomorrow’s primary who isn’t much more likely to be sworn in next January than Wendy Long, the New York GOP’s sacrificial lamb, who will be slaughtered by Gillibrand. Linda McMahon is probably going to be the GOP winner in Connecticut tomorrow. That will be no reason for anyone, Republican or Democrat, to celebrate.
Last week’s terror attack on Egyptian army troops by jihadists whose ultimate aim was to kill Israelis provoked an unexpectedly harsh reaction from Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. The chaos in the Sinai is the direct result of the revolution that brought down the Mubarak regime. The Hamas government looked to benefit from the triumph of their Muslim Brotherhood allies, but the embarrassing slaughter of Egyptians by anti-Israel terrorists has led the new government in Cairo to shut down the smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Gaza. The prospect of increased security cooperation between Egypt and the United States is slightly encouraging, though Israel’s exclusion from talks concerning its border is both spiteful and foolish.
But while the crackdown in the Sinai and along the border with Gaza may be a hopeful sign the new Egyptian government is unwilling to be dragged into conflict with Israel by the Palestinians, the real news in the aftermath of the shooting is very bad indeed. Morsi’s sacking of Egypt’s intelligence chief (who ignored warnings from Israel about a possible terror attack) is one thing, but the decision of the Egyptian leader to fire two of the country’s leading generals is more than just a personnel shuffle. If Morsi has assumed power of the country’s military, the notion that the army would or could act as a brake on the Muslim Brotherhood has been shown to be a myth. His firing of Egypt’s defense minister and the army chief of staff makes it clear the Brotherhood is now completely in control of the country. This calls into question not just the future of regional stability but the Obama administration’s equivocal attitude toward the Brotherhood’s push to power.
In 2009, the Sacramento City Council designated Bethlehem in Israel as one of Sacramento’s “Sister Cities.” Tomorrow, the council is set to vote on whether to make Ashkelon, Israel, a Sister City as well, and anti-Israel groups are frantically working to kill the initiative:
Supporters and protesters are expected to pack Sacramento City Council chambers when it decides whether to become a sister city with Ashkelon, Israel.
The council has a vote planned Tuesday on whether to add Ashkelon, a frequent target for bombs from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The California capital already has joined up with nine cities, including what it calls “Bethlehem, Palestine,” and has been discussing adding an Israeli town for several years.
Those opposed to becoming a sister city with Ashkelon have waged an active campaign, claiming that Arabs there are second-class citizens and that other Arabs were evicted from the area following Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.
“Resounding praise for the ordinary fictional article of commerce is so much the order of the day that when a novel appears which truly demands praise, the task of reviewing it presents special difficulty. Words worn threadbare in the service of mediocrity look appallingly perfunctory when returned to their intended uses.” — Dorothea Brande opening a review of Caroline Gordon’s None Shall Look Back in the American Review (February 1937)
The Obama campaign is in full attack mode this week, and President Obama’s campaign speech in Iowa today shows the level of cynicism in the Democrats’ attempt to bash Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. While stumping in the Hawkeye state, the president criticized Ryan for blocking a farm aid bill that is before the Congress and which he described as vital to helping rural communities survive both drought and an economic downturn. But does Obama really think voters are dumb enough to believe this?
The president’s Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act isn’t a legislative equivalent of a farm aid concert. It is a mini-stimulus package aimed at playing favorites in the agriculture industry and represents exactly the sort of massive government spending that both sides in last year’s budget impasse agreed could not be sustained. But the farm bill isn’t just yet another example of the Democrats’ penchant for crony capitalism; it is also an attempt to preserve farm subsidies that virtually everyone in Washington knows are an unsustainable boondoggle that represent the worst in patronage politics. Far from the president’s championing of this issue being part of a coherent plan to demonize Ryan, his backing of farm subsidies merely illustrates why Ryan’s reformist ideas are needed now more than ever.
An often-overlooked aspect of an Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities is the second stage in what officials expect to be a two-pronged response from the Islamic Republic: the unleashing of thousands of rockets and missiles from Hezbollah’s stronghold in south Lebanon. When Israeli officials speak openly about a looming conflict, it is often to prepare the public for any eventuality, especially unpleasant ones. So it is notable that former Mossad head Danny Yatom spoke frankly today about that second phase.
The Jerusalem Postreports that Yatom was trying to avoid predicting too much doom and gloom, but the reality is not a particularly sunny forecast:
While acknowledging that Iran has a few hundred missiles that can reach Israel, and that the price would be horrible if those missiles were equipped with either nuclear or chemical warheads, Yatom said the central concern are the tens of thousands of rockets in Hezbollah and Hamas storehouses in Lebanon and Gaza.
Those rockets, he said, can “cover all of Israel, and that is the main problem.”
Thanks to Ed Morrissey for bringing attention to this priceless video of Erskine Bowles, the Democratic co-chair of the Obama Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, praising Paul Ryan and his budget plan during a lecture at the University of North Carolina last September:
The assumption among liberals is that the more the public learns about Paul Ryan, the easier it will be to brand him (in the words of Obama campaign honcho David Axelrod) as a “certifiable right-wing ideologue.” The core of that strategy is the belief liberals can demonize Ryan’s budget and his effort to reform entitlements. But another aspect of it is the notion that the Republican vice presidential candidate’s social conservatism is also an easy target. As a New York Times article details, Ryan is pro-life, an opponent of gay marriage and opposes the federal mandate that all employers must be compelled to pay for contraception and abortion-inducing drugs even if it contradicts their religious scruples. The assumption is that the mere listing of these positions that so offend liberal orthodoxy will ensure the defeat of the Republicans.
But as Politico notes today, as much as Ryan helps energize the conservative base behind a Romney candidacy about which they were lukewarm, placing the articulate congressman from Wisconsin on the ticket also helps put the votes of Catholics who are independents or conservative Democrats into play. While those who look to the editorial page of the New York Times for guidance may be outraged about Ryan’s positions on social issues, the number of those voters — including those whose support might be up for grabs in November — who share his view of ObamaCare as well as on abortion, gay marriage and guns is far greater. Ryan’s impact on the working-class Catholic vote that helped make the difference for Barack Obama in some states four years ago is a factor that many analysts are underestimating.
Watch this clip of Mitt Romney sparring with a heckler at the Paul Ryan homecoming rally in Wisconsin last night and tell me where this candidate has been the whole campaign. This is not the same stiff, cautious Romney we’ve been watching for the past year and a half:
Many Democrats are outwardly cheering Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan. But I wonder what’s actually going through the minds of Obama’s inner circle. David Axelrod has probably run enough campaigns to realize that Paul Ryan is an exceptional political talent whose star is rising just as Obama’s is fading. And what’s the president thinking? Back in 2007, this was how Obama’s personal frustrations with his self-identity were described to the authors of the book Game Change:
“[Obama] wanted to be seen as substantive. He was substantive. And not being viewed that way was hurting his chances, he thought. I’ve spent my whole life caring about policy, he told his staff. I want to have new ideas. I want them to be specific. I want to make sure that no one can say they’re not specific enough. Obama had imagined at the outset of the campaign that he would set aside hours to consult with world-class experts, delving into the issues, devising innovative solutions. He kept asking for more time to do that, but his schedule was too jam-packed with fund-raisers and campaign events.”
The liberal assault on Paul Ryan has commenced. But the first round of attacks can’t provide much solace to Democrats, who assume they will be able to demonize the Republican vice presidential candidate with ease. The first 48 hours of Ryan’s candidacy has already seen a deluge of abuse from the mainstream media editorial pages and columnists. If all you read is the opinion pages of the New York Times, which trotted out its second editorial rant against Ryan in two days, then you probably think that political strategist turned pundit Robert Shrum’s boast in the Daily Beast that by the time the Obama campaign is through with him, Ryan will be as toxic as Sarah Palin. Liberals like Robert Reich, who took to the Huffington Post to howl that Ryan’s ideas are “social Darwinism” or former Times editor Bill Keller who damned the prospective next GOP administration as a compendium of every wicked conservative idea ever conceived, clearly believe all they need to do is to just call Ryan and to a lesser extent Romney, every name they can think of.
But the problem with this effort to Palin-ize Ryan is that the first returns show it probably won’t work.
The chief attack on Paul Ryan electorally is simple: His now-famous Plan “ends Medicare as we know it,” thereby stripping the elderly of their health care. They should fear it and fear him and vote against him.
The next three months will be a test of something important: Whether this assertion, which is an out-and-out lie, can overcome the plain explication of the truth.
In the New York Post today, I explain that Paul Ryan has brought together two strands of conservatism that have been in an uneasy relation for decades: Fiscal conservatism and small-government conservatism.
The secret of Paul Ryan is that he is a blend of the two; philosophically a small-government conservative, managerially a fiscal conservative.
He wants to reduce the size of government for the reasons the Tea Party elucidated — that Big Government saps individual initiative and is a betrayal of the rights enumerated in the Constitution. But he has also mastered the language and the approach of the fiscal conservatives, and has used them to get very specific about the threat posed to the American future by the coming tsunami in entitlement spending.