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Dems Give Their Best Shot, Ryan Still Standing?

The Washington Post‘s ‘The Fix’ blog has some bad news for Democrats: their attempts to paint Paul Ryan as an extremist fringe candidate seem to have failed.

A new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll asked Americans to say what one word comes to mind when they think about the GOP vice presidential nominee. And people have a hard time finding negative things to say about him.

None of the top nine words people use to describe Ryan are are negative, and six of the nine are positive (“intelligent,” “good,” “energetic,” “honest,” etc.).

Not until you get to the 10th- and 11th-most-cited words do Democrats’ attempts to define Ryan begin to register. That’s the point at which people start describing Ryan as an “idiot” and “extremist.”

And of the top 27 most-cited words, twice as many are positive — 16 — as negative — eight.

The reason for the messaging failure, in our view, is that while many people have doubts about the solutions Ryan (or anybody else) has brought forward, there is deep public unease about the sustainability of the current entitlement state. That means that issues that used to be the “third rail of American politics” aren’t quite so deadly anymore.

Voters may well end up rejecting the GOP message in November, but they no longer dismiss concerns about key government programs out of hand. On entitlements, as on education and public unions, the country continues to drift away from the orthodoxies of the blue social model. There is not a lot of confidence out there in GOP proposals to replace it, but that seems to matter a bit less and underlying confidence in the financial future of the entitlement state starts to fade.

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  • thibaud

    Wrong. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

    The “best shot” against this puerile, silly man was only just published, in an elite journal by one of the nation’s best and most brilliant writers, and his message has not yet been distilled for the limited understanding of the low-information voter.

    Leon Wieseltier’s brilliant demolition of Ryan’s adolescent Ayn Rand fantasies is based on two main points:

    – in the wake of his father’s death, Ryan’s embrace of the “foul spell” of Ayn Rand’s over-the-top, adolescent egotism is a very “strange form of mourning” that suggests the man is emotionally deficient;

    – Ryan’s intellectualism is a complete joke. He’s a lightweight.

    Wieseltier doesn’t speak bumper sticker, but Team Obama’s wordsmiths will very soon distill this brilliant summation of Ryan’s weird and wildly overrated character into a simple picture that the voters will get, and laugh at, and recoil from.

    As any intelligent person beyond the age of 14 would recoil from Ayn Rand’s vicious and repugnant comic books.

    Here’s Wieseltier on Ryan: “His Grief, and Ours: Paul Ryan’s nasty ideal of self-reliance”

  • thibaud

    A question for the devout Christians here: Do you know any believer who, having lost a beloved parent, came away from his mourning with a deep belief in the moral superiority of selfishness and self-absorption?

    Could you explain, to those us trying to make sense of this bizarre man’s intellectual trajectory, just how grief could lead a Christian to embrace a belief that the poor and weak deserve not pity or “caritas” but contempt?

    A man who claims to follow both Jesus Christ and the cartoon character John Galt is a fool.

    It’s like a Trotskyite bond trader, or a Jewish Nazi.

    Ryan’s own party strategists call him “Palin with a PowerPoint” behind his back. The nation will view him likewise within a few months.

  • Steve W from Ford

    Thibaud if you actually think that Ryan’s juvenile flirtation with Objectivism along with some academic then tieing that to a, supposed, lifelong character defect is actually going to move the political needle then you are a deluded fool who is blinded by partisan bias. Ryan is obviously far too likeable as a person to be dragged down by some leftist professors critique and NOBODY will care!
    You’ve really jumped the shark this time in you continuous need to demonstrate what a contrarian you are no matter how foolish the precept you derive.

  • thibaud

    Of Ryan’s ludicrous plan, Mead decorously writes, ” There is not a lot of confidence out there in GOP proposals to replace [our current safety net].”

    You can say that again. Especially glaring that Ryan and Romney themselves have so little confidence in their own plan that they are now pretending that they intend * preserve * one of the biggest entitlement programs against the mendacious claim that Obama wants to starve it.

    Why the 180-degree turn?

    What would John Galt say about such weaseling spinelessness?

    Could it be because the entitlement program in question is dearly beloved by the most important voter group in the swing state of Florida?

  • cacrucil

    The reason they are moving away from “the blue state model” is that most ameircans are broke, not because they believe that a libertarian utopia is on the horizon.

  • WigWag

    It’s hard to know which is more ludicrous; the Washington Post poll or Professor Mead’s commentary on the Washington Post poll. According to the poll, 77 percent of Americans have a neutral or negative opinion of Ryan or don’t know enough about him to form an opinion one way or the other. The precise results were: positive view: 22 percent; neutral view: 17 percent; negative view: 21 percent; no view: 39 percent.

    The *unweighted word count* included diverse comments such as *intelligent,* *unknown,* *honest,* *young* and *idiot.*

    From this, Professor Mead concludes,

    *The reason for {Obama’s} messaging failure, in our view, is that while many people have doubts about the solutions Ryan (or anybody else) has brought forward, there is deep public unease about the sustainability of the current entitlement state.*

    It is astounding that Professor Mead thinks that he can extrapolate how Americans view the “entitlement state* from the results of this poll. If a college freshman raised his hand in his Political Science 101 class and made a statement this obtuse his teacher could be excused for concluding that the student in question was spending entirely too much time at the pub.

    Whatever one thinks of the Washington Post poll and whatever one thinks of Paul Ryan or entitlements, the idea that the poll sheds any light at all on what Americans feel about the *sustainability of the entitlement state* is beyond absurd.

    Grade for Professor Mead’s post: F

  • WigWag

    The authors and editors of Via Meadia are truly brilliant seers when it comes to divining the political views of the American public. They would have to be to reach any conclusion about what Americans thought about the sustainability of entitlements from the individual words mentioned to describe Paul Ryan.

    Given their clairvoyance, maybe they can share with us their political insights about what we should conclude from the television ratings that the networks scored from broadcasting the Republican Convention.

    Some of the data can be found here,

    Apparently NBC beat CBS and ABC when it came to convention coverage. It also seems that “Master Chef” is on fire but “America’s Got Talent” is dipping.

    NBC received a 1.3/4 rating for its convention coverage. CBS squeaked out a 0.6/2 and ABC was the laggard with a 0.5/2.

    NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” scored significantly higher ratings (2.4/7) than NBC’s convention coverage. I admit that my political antenna is not nearly as acute as Professor Mead’s political acumen but it seems to me that this suggests that whatever “talent” America might have, Mrs. Romney’s speaking ability is not included.

    Apparently Master Chef on Fox also beat NBC’s convention coverage. Fox broadcast a repeat version of Master Chef which scored a 1.5/5 followed by a new episode that scored a 2.8/8. Can we conclude from the fact that both the repeat episode and new episode of “Master Chef” beat NBC’s convention coverage that American’s find the fare cooked up on Fox more appetizing that the fare being cooked up in Tampa? Inquiring minds want to know.

    I have a very strong suspicion that the relative ratings success of “America’s Got Talent” and “Master Chef” versus the Republican Convention must say something about the failure of the blue model. I’m just not smart enough to figure out what it is.

    Given Professor Mead’s uncanny ability to extrapolate very large conclusions from very skimpy data, I am hoping he can help me out and explain it to me.

  • thibaud

    Steve W – “Ryan’s juvenile flirtation with Objectivism”

    Ryan to this day demands that his staff members read Atlas Shrugged. (What did those poor people do to Ryan to deserve such torture?)

    Which book, as Wieseltier hilariously points out, appears to be the only one of his cited texts that Ryan has actually read.

    I especially like how our Palin with a PowerPoint asserts that Democrats don’t know that the author of “A Theory of Moral Sentiments” was, um, a moral philosopher.


    “Has Paul Ryan ever read the very first sentence on the very first page [of Adam Smith’s “Theory of Moral Sentiments”]?

    “… [it] is the least Galt-like, least Rand-like, least Ryan-like sentence ever written. And from there the conservatives’ deity launches into a profound analysis of ‘mutual sympathy’. … If there is anything that Adam Smith stands for, it is the reconcilability of capitalism with fellow feeling, of market economics with social decency. But Ryan is a dismal student of Smith, because he likes his capitalism cruel….”

  • Corlyss

    @ tibaud

    I can’t wait to read your posts after we send that sorry pair, Obama and Val-Chelle back to Chicago.

    O The Humanity!!!!

  • thibaud

    Corlyss – why the exclamation marks? What is this, Yelp?

  • Steve W from Ford

    I repeat. NO. ONE. WILL. CARE.
    You and WigWam remind me of those mindless lefties that inhabit the Daily Kos and Wonkette and who obsess about every perceived “failing” of the Republicans, each time just sure that,this time, all Americans will join their outrage over what color tie Mitt wore and how outrageous it was that he was so disrespectful as to wear red when blue was clearly the right color, only to be, once again, disappointed to find NO. ONE. CARES about the trivia.

    I’m just wondering but did Professor Mead kick you and WigWams a$$’s when you were all kids or what? You both seem tremendously invested in being as derogatory as you can in your comments which seems kind of weird. Not sure why you would hang out just to flame every opinion put forth by the good Doctor unless you have some personal grudge. Might be good if you two took up knitting. I understand it is quite restful.

  • rvastar

    [Leon Wieseltier’s brilliant demolition of Ryan’s adolescent Ayn Rand fantasies]

    Yeah, that’s some “piece” by Wieseltier.

    Let’s see how many Lefty memes he crams in:

    Republicans are hyprocrites…check.

    Republicans are stupid…check.

    Republicans are selfish…check.

    Obama is awesome…check.

    I won’t waste any more time with it, as it’s run-of-the-mill, puffed up Lefty windbaggery at its finest.

    [Ryan’s own party strategists call him “Palin with a PowerPoint” behind his back. The nation will view him likewise within a few months.]

    Doubtful. Besides, you should probably be more concerned with how the nation views Barack “Your Boy” Obama in a few months, because as things stand right now, it’s not looking to good:

    And while we’re at it, here’s a few more numbers for you to digest:

    August 2008
    Party ID: 37%D – 27%R – 37%I
    With Independents choosing who they leaned towards: 53%D – 40%R
    Voter Enthusiam: 61%D – 35% R

    August 2010
    Party ID: 30%D – 28%R – 41%I
    With Independents choosing who they leaned towards: 45%D – 47%R
    Voter Enthusiam: 45%D – 45% R

    August 2012
    Party ID: 29%D – 26%R – 42%I
    With Independents choosing who they leaned towards: 44%D – 41%R
    Voter Enthusiam: 39%D – 51% R

    Down, down, down…and Mitt hasn’t even opened the piggy-bank yet.

    On the bright side: this may prove to be ObamaCare’s one shining moment…considering all the defibrilators you Lefties are going to require come Nov. 7th. That is, before it’s repealed 🙂

    [I have a very strong suspicion that the relative ratings success of “America’s Got Talent” and “Master Chef” versus the Republican Convention must say something about the failure of the blue model. I’m just not smart enough to figure out what it is.]

    Nor, obviously, are you smart enough to figure out that those numbers will increase with each successive night.

    And as for what the ratings say about “the failure of the blue model”, check back with us after the Dems upcoming “Up With Abortions!” bananza.

  • thibaud

    Unless the economy gets worse – and Bernanke shows every sign of easing yet again, making a collapse extremely unlikely – this election won’t even be all that close.

    Again, the math here is simple. Romney would have to run the tables on EVERY ONE OF THE SWING STATES – not just Florida, not just Florida and Virginia and Ohio, but FL and VA and OH and NC and IA. All of them. Won’t happen.

    More fundamentally, what we’re witnessing is the last gasp of the GOP/Dixiecrat Southern Strategy.

    There are simply too many nonwhites and whites with an education for the ol’ Atwater magic to work anymore.

    Romney’s a truly dreadful candidate – worst since the Duke – but he still would have been favored had he the sense and courage to pick a moderate, or even, maybe, a latino like Rubio.

    With his overgrown teenage running mate, Mr Palin-cum-Powerpoint, the only hope for Romney is economic collapse between now and Nov. Not likely.

  • Jim.


    You illustrate the point Mead is making about Sound and Fury beautifully.

  • Corlyss

    “Bernanke shows every sign of easing yet again”

    As well he should. The other two, QE and Son of QE, were so successful they DEMAND a 3rd Sequel, QE’s Revenge. LOL

    I agree with thibaud, it’s going to be a blow-out election: but for Republicans.

  • rvastar

    [Romney would have to run the tables on EVERY ONE OF THE SWING STATES – not just Florida, not just Florida and Virginia and Ohio, but FL and VA and OH and NC and IA. All of them. Won’t happen.]

    Rasmussens August Polls

    Florida: 43% Obama – 45% Romney – 8% Undecided
    Virginia: 47% Obama – 47% Romney – 3% Undecided
    Ohio: 45% Obama – 45% Romney – 4% Undecided
    North Carolina: 44% Obama – 49% Romney – 4% Undecided
    Iowa: 44% Obama – 46% Romney – 6% Undecided

    Anywhere Obama doesn’t lead, he loses. Why? Several reasons.

    1) Historically, undecideds break for the challenger. That’s a death sentence for Obama, since if they’re not willing to commit to him after 3-1/2 years, then they’re not going to in 2 months.

    3) For the first time in 20 years, Republicans now lead in the area of party favorability over Democrats.

    Republican Favorability
    August 2008: 41% Favorable – 51% Unfavorable
    August 2012: 44% Favorable – 50% Unfavorable

    Democrat Favorability
    August 2008: 54% Favorable – 39% Unfavorable
    August 2012: 43% Favorable – 52% Unfavorable

    While the Republican improvements aren’t earth-shattering, they are improvements in both areas. However, for the Democrats, those are ASTOUNDING collapses.

    3) Republican voter enhusiasm is crushing Democrats.

    In the overall electorate, voter enthusiasm is lower than it was in 2008, the year of Obama’s “crushing” 6% victory; it’s even lower than it was in 2010, the year the Democrats suffered the biggest national electoral route since the Great Depression. This is devastating for Democrats because anyone with a shred of intellectual honesty knows that the reduction in overall enthusiasm is all coming from the Democrat side, as every Republican in the country will be out on Nov. 6th to vote.

    At the end of the day – and as the last two elections have amply demonstrated – voter enthusiasm decides national elections in the US. The problem for Democrats is that they have to have a big leads in voter enthusiasm to win, while Republicans can win landslide victories as long as they are at parity with Democrat enthusiasm.

    With all of that in mind – with a +12% lead in Republican voter enthusiasm – what do the numbers portend?

    Another 2010-style bloodbath for Democrats.

  • thibaud

    Twilight for the race-baiting GOP strategy, Corlyss.

    As one of the GOP strategists told Ron Brownstein, this is the last election in which the GOP will try to win by appealing to working-class racists.

    When Romney and Ryan go down to defeat in November, the GOP will face a hard decision: will it be a Tea Party-dominated, sectional party that appeals mainly to an overwhelmingly old, white, and undereducated population?

    The GOP leadership itself knows that they’re playing a losing hand.

    As evidenced by their Tea Party wonder boy’s rather amazing speech yesterday in which he chucked all his Ayn Rand baggage out the window and claimed, ludicrously, to be a staunch advocate of the safety net – with no ironic quote marks! What would Galt say?

    But getting rid of the insane Norquist and Club For Growth types won’t be so easy. Raise the gazillionaires’ taxes, and the GOP can kiss good bye the hundreds of millions – hell, the more than a BILLION dollars – that the likes of Adelson, the Kochs, the 2-and-20 scammers, the oilmen et al – in paranoid-capitalist slush money that’s poured into the GOP.

    In short, while there’s still a large number of working-class dupes who’d rather be [vulgarity removed] by rich white guys than accept any help from a black president, there just aren’t enough of them any more.

    It’s not 1988, or even 2004. Time for a new strategy, as November will make abundantly clear.

  • thibaud

    Sen. Graham yesterday: ” “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

    As an academic who’s closely studied the GOP’s base and its demographics said, “This Republican Party base is white, aging and dying off.”

    Twilight of the Atwater/Tea Party GOP.

  • thibaud

    Wonder what the working class GOP base will make of this breaking story, thanks to an FOIA request, of how Romney used his pull at the FDIC and blackmail-style threats to scam $10 million from the Feds in order to save his own firm – the one that he and Bill Bain had plundered and driven into the ground:

    “Romney’s initial rescue attempt at Bain & Company was actually a disaster – leaving the firm so financially strapped that it had “no value as a going concern.” Even worse, the federal bailout ultimately engineered by Romney screwed the FDIC – the bank insurance system backed by taxpayers – out of at least $10 million.

    “And in an added insult, Romney rewarded top executives at Bain with hefty bonuses at the very moment that he was demanding his handout from the feds….”

  • Jim.

    Thibaud’s pulled out the Race Card?

    The desperation is setting in. Twilight for Obama’s chances…

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