ICYMI Tumblr Fans: The New Republic’s post-election issue features Timothy Noah on obstacles to the Obama agenda, Alex Pareene on jokes and the political class, John B. Judis on permanent majorities, and David Greenberg on the myth of second term failure. Also, don’t miss Joshua Cohen on the ghosts of Atlantic City, Will Blythe on how to save college basketball, Jed Perl on Andy Warhol’s legacy, and Leon Wieseltier’s lessons from Hurricane Sandy.
Could the selection of Paul Ryan be a means to escape blame in defeat?
There are two ways to think about Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan this morning. The first is how it affects Romney’s prospects for winning in November. The second is how it affects the internal struggle between conservatives and moderates within the GOP.
Regarding the first question, the Ryan pick is, of course, lunacy. Ryan’s claim to fame is a long-term budget blueprint that would massively cut Medicare over the coming decades while essentially zeroing out domestic spending oneverything else but defense. It would pair this unprecedented austerity with enormous tax cuts for the wealthy. All of these things are, to varying degrees, wildly unpopular. Which makes it hardly surprising that the only time the Ryan budget actually came before voters—in a 2011 congressional special election in upstate New York—it was a political disaster, handing a safe Republican district to a little-known Democrat.
Noam Scheiber — “Just One Reason to Pick Ryan: Blame the Loss on Conservatives”
Jonathan Cohn offers a guide to understanding Paul Ryan.
Many millions of working-age Americans would lose health insurance. Senior citizens would anguish over whether to pay their rent or their medical bills, in a way they haven’t since the 1960s. Government would be so starved of resources that, by 2050, it wouldn’t have enough money for core functions like food inspections and highway maintenance. And the richest Americans would get a huge tax cut.
This is the America that Paul Ryan envisions. And now we know that it is the America Mitt Romney envisions.
Of course, we should have known that already. Romney committed himself to the Ryan agenda during the presidential primaries, both by embracing the Ryan budget rhetorically and specifically proposing key features of Ryan’s agenda, starting with a tight cap on federal spending. But if anybody doubted that Romney was serious about these commitments, the Ryan pick should put those doubts to rest. Maybe Romney sincerely believes these ideas are right for the country and maybe he feels that endorsing them is necessary to please his party’s base. It really doesn’t matter. It’s the way he intends to govern.
Jonathan Cohn — “Six Things to Know About Ryan (and Romney)”
Will North Carolina’s electoral votes make a major impact in November?
The campaigns are pouring millions of dollars into North Carolina and the polls show a tight race, but Nate Silver doesn’t think that the state is worth the investment. While he is certainly right that North Carolina is unlikely to prove decisive, it’s easy to envision how the Tar Heel state could play a pivotal role in 2012. The state’s demographics, a small number of undecided voters, and Obama’s elevated standing effectively ensure a tight race—whether Obama wins or loses.
There’s plenty written here on the fundamentals in North Carolina, so let’s start by slightly reformulating Silver’s maxim: The most important states are not those that are closest in an absolute sense, but rather those that are closest to the national average in a close election. This slight reformulation is important, because while North Carolina isn’t the closest state to the national average right now, it could be pretty close to the national average in a close national election. Silver doesn’t think that’s likely because he believes that the current sequence of the states is likely to hold through November: If Obama is doing better in Colorado than North Carolina today, then it is very unlikely that Obama could win North Carolina without winning Colorado.
Nate Cohn — “The Campaigns Should Keep Spending in North Carolina”
Has the news media mishandled the “You didn’t build that” story?
The 2012 campaign got off to a hopeful start in the never-ending battle between truth and cynicism. When the Romney campaign put up an ad last November that took a 2008 line of Barack Obama’s blatantly out of context—“If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose,” a line that was paraphrasing a John McCain adviser—the political press corps jumped all over it, and essentially shamed the Romney campaign into backing off that attack, no easy thing to do given that Romney advisers initially defended the ad with an “anything goes” breeziness. Similarly, when Democrats jumped all over Romney’s “I like to fire people” line, plenty of reporters—including some at liberal outfits—dutifully noted that, amusing as the line was, Romney was actually making a point about health insurance, not laying off workers. And, to the Obama campaign’s credit, I’m not aware of any big ads they’ve run trying to snatch that line out of context for an easy hit.
But cynicism has regained the upper hand this week, in a big way, with the Republicans’ out-of-context trumpeting of a single, infelicitous line from Obama’s recent riff, echoing Elizabeth Warren, about the need for public investment to sustain economic growth:
Alec MacGillis — “Beltway Media Cynicism? Yeah, You Built That”
"Congressional leaders announced last week—after months of bickering—that they finally reached a deal to prevent student loan rates from doubling, just days before the July 1 deadline. This may be good news for the many Americans who are currently suffering from an aggregate total of over a trillion dollars in student loan debt. But it’s decidedly more ambiguous for one of the loudest supporters of the issue: President Obama.
As we know, the youth vote was a crucial part of Obama’s successful 2008 coalition. This year, pollsters have confirmed that the youth vote is still incredibly important. But they’ve also determined that it’s highly unreliable. Gallup reported in late April that while Obama leads Romney by 35 points among 18-29 year olds, only 6 in 10 eligible voters in that age group are registered to vote and only 56 percent of those registered report that they will definitely show up to the polls in November. Indeed, any informal survey of students about this year’s race yields dispiriting conclusions: Young voters are much less excited about 2012 than they were about 2008. Further underscoring the point is a recent New York Times article discussing the ideological toll that the recession has taken on voters between the ages of 18 and 24. On the whole, they’ve become more skeptical of government intervention in the economy.”
—Jose A. DelReal, “Has Obama Lost His Best Chance to Rally the Youth Vote?”
Should Obama’s campaign focus on inequality?
"For political purposes, it doesn’t much matter how an argument is received by people who are sure to support you. What really matters is its effect on voters who may be open to persuasion. And for Obama, that means white voters."
-William Galston, Why the President’s Campaign Shouldn’t Focus on Inequality
(Photo Courtesy of Getty Images)
In case you weren’t convinced that we’ve reached the campaign’s silly season, the War on Dogs has arrived to erase all doubt.
"It started with Democrats poking fun at Mitt Romney’s dog-on-car incident. The Daily Caller retaliated earlier this week with a post “uncovering” the “shocking” “news” that Barack Obama once ate dog meat as a child (an event he had mentioned in his memoir). The battle moved to a new front when Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom alluded on Twitter to Obama’s dog-eating. And thus began the War on Dogs, just the latest of the innumerable wars waged this election cycle. We decided to look back at rhetorical wars of the past, from Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty to Rick Santorum’s war on pornography."
- Nick Robins-Early and Perry Stein and Eric Wen, “The War on [Insert Noun]: The Uses and Misuses of Martial Rhetoric”
Photo courtesy of Politico
If there’s a pro-mommy candidate, it’s not Mitt Romney.
"Broadly speaking, the candidate who helps parents the most is the one who will do more to promote economic growth, to look out for public health, and to keep the country safe. In other words, the candidate who does the most to help parents is the one who does the most to help all Americans—and that’s obviously a big, and complicated, subject. But raising kids also involves some very specific tasks and, for many American parents, carrying them out is a struggle.
Among parents, really, the only clear beneficiaries of Romney’s fiscal plans would seem to be the wealthiest ones. They depend least on the government programs Romney would cut and they’d benefit the most from the tax cuts he wants to pass. Of course, those parents are also the ones who struggle the least right now. They may be familiar with the difficult work of raising kids, but they’re frequently not familiar with the financial struggles that lower- and middle-income parents face—which, come to think of it, is precisely what Hilary Rosen was trying to say.”
- Jonathan Cohn, “Sure, Let’s Talk About Moms”
Photo courtesy of Politico