Ed Driscoll

I'm Laurence Harvey and I Approve This Message

Watching the hysterical reaction from the left yesterday over Romney choosing Paul Ryan as his veep makes you wonder how much was pre-written boilerplate, with the Republican candidate’s name simply dropped in at the last minute, once Romney formally made his announcement. It’s sort of the Bizarro World version of the riff brainwashed into the skulls of Frank Sinatra and the rest of Laurence Harvey’s troops by the Soviets and Communist China in The Manchurian Candidate: “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.” Instead this weekend, we’re getting “INSERT NAME OF REPUBLICAN TO BE DEMONIZED HERE is the worst, vilest, sexist, homophobic, God-worshiping, Second Amendment-supporting, budget cutting, evilest human being I’ve ever known in my life:”

Yesterday at Commentary, John Podhoretz explored “Paul Ryan and Liberal Glee.” As Podhoretz wrote, “Doubtless, Ryan has provided some subject matter for Democratic attacks. But so, in different ways, would anyone else on Mitt Romney’s short list”:

More important is the quality of the glee itself. It’s an ongoing liberal political-character flaw. So insulated a are many, if not most, American liberals that they simply presume that which they despise is inherently despicable, and that what they fear is inherently fearful. As they gather in their echo chamber, all they hear are voices resounding with the monstrousness of redesigning Medicare and the parlousness of cutting the federal budget. They genuinely do not know that budget cutting is popular, even if only in theory, and that tens of millions of voters do understand the notion that the government is living far beyond its means. From what we can gather, in fact, these are exactly the sorts of ideas that speak to independent voters and have since the days of Ross Perot.

Ryan is a formidable presence in American politics. Generally speaking, formidable players do formidable things. The glee of the Left suggests its folk are so excited by what the Obama campaign can dish out that they are unprepared for what Ryan and Romney can dish out right back.

One of my favorite leftwing freakouts, which perfectly sums up this weekend’s apocalyptic tone from Democrats, although it predates the Ryan announcement by a couple of days, is 85-year old Harry Belafonte blurting out that electing Romney will bring about the “end of civilization.”

Ironically though, with his doomsday rhetoric, Belafonte accidentally backed into the argument that Americans will be debating this fall, but not in the way he thinks. As Glenn Reynolds notes in USA Today on Romney choosing Ryan, “the math shows our spending is unsustainable. Nothing can save it: Not higher taxes, not lower interest rates on federal borrowing, not financial jiggery-pokery from the Fed. If we continue on this path, the result will be disaster: We’ll be Greece, with nuclear weapons”:

Romney’s selection of Ryan shows that he understands the dire nature of the problem, and that he’s serious about addressing it. But it also lays down a marker.

If Americans take the future of their country seriously, they’ll reject the Obama approach, which has been disastrous, and elect Romney-Ryan, along with a substantial number of fiscally conservative members of Congress. That will give America a chance to avoid financial ruin.

But Back To Basics has its risks. Though most Americans realize that our spending is irresponsible and unsustainable, there remain quite a few who aren’t prepared to end it, at least if doing so might interfere with their ability to suck, unmolested, at the government teat. The Ryan choice leaves them certain of where Romney stands. Only some of them will be patriotic enough to vote against their own pocketbooks.

But even if the Romney-Ryan ticket loses, it will have provided a valuable moment of clarity. If Obama is re-elected, there will be no doubt where the responsibility lies when the inevitable financial catastrophe occurs. And clarity, sometimes, has a value all its own.

It’s a choice between the “Party of Reform and the Kick-the-Can Party,” John Steele Gordon writes at Commentary today. “The liberal alternative to the Ryan reform plan, to the extent that there is one, is to demagogue all reform proposals, kick the can down the road and hope, like Dickens’s classic deficit financier, Wilkins Micawber, that something will turn up.”

But then, you can only kick the can down the road for so long before you risk becoming a pancake under an oncoming Mack Truck — something that the exchange between Ryan and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner back in February made plain:

GEITHNER: You could have taken [the chart] out [to the year] 3000 or to 4000. [Laughs]

RYAN: Yeah, right. We cut it off at the end of the century because the economy, according to the CBO, shuts down in 2027 on this path.

And that’s it — this is what America will be voting on in November. No wonder Democrats are sounding rather robotic in their efforts to kick the can just a little further down the road:

Or to put it another way, as Orrin Judd writes today, “Rather than get bogged down in the details of his own budget, [Ryan] needs to answer every attack with one line: ‘I’ve told you exactly where I’d make cuts, where do your automatic $1.2 trillion in cuts come from?'”

Related: “Flashback: Paul Ryan Destroys Treasury Secretary Geithner On Fiscal Policy:”

More: “Liberal Journalists Hate Paul Ryan, A Look at their Top 10 Most Outrageous Attacks.”

OK, One More: Speaking of Manchurian Candidate-style programming:

Host: Should the Democrats be releasing an ad that accuses a presidential candidate of being responsible, through inference, of being responsible for a woman’s death?

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz: First of all, that’s a Priorities USA ad.

Host: I understand…

DWS: It’s a priorities USA Super PAC ad…

Host: Correct

DWS: … and we have nothing to do with it.

Host: Do you deny that they’re Democrats?

DWS: I have no idea of the political affiliation of the folks associated with that Super PAC.

Host: So, Bill Burton, who used to work in the White House, who worked for the Obama campaign in 2008? Not a Democrat?

DWS: That is a Super PAC ad, not affiliated with the party or the campaign.

Axelrod coordinate! Axelrod coordinate! (To mix-sixties era pop culture references.)