In The News
POLITICAL NOTES: Ryan, desperate to be a Dem?
By Dominique Paul Noth
Editor, Labor Press
We should be exporting American products, not American jobs. Let’s stop giving tax breaks to companies that outsource jobs and start rewarding American companies that keep jobs here.
Sounds like an ad for Obama, doesn’t it? But this Democratish refrain and sudden angry concern for the workingman is the main, almost endless TV campaign for Rep. Paul Ryan, who carefully avoids using or even embedding the word “Republican” in his commercials.
Residents of Wisconsin’s First Congressional District who want to find Ryan’s true fiscal philosophy – which still blames Medicare and Social Security for the nation’s economic woes -- have to sign up for his mailings. To hear his disproven solutions in privatized retirement and health savings accounts, you have to check his blogs and website.
Hidden from the airwaves are long-held beliefs in an unchecked Wall Street and unfettered free market. Nor do the ads get anywhere near his vote in favor of the $700 billion economic bailout necessitated by such unfettering, since he is seeking the mantle of opposition leader (though he was not one of the House members who held out against it).
What is going on here is the headlong flight from the policies of both Bush and John McCain by their own established GOP leaders.
Ryan, top Republican on the House Budget Committee and staunch advocate every year that Bush has been in the White House, is now leading the fraidy-cats as they run from the ideology they once framed and supported.
At 38, Ryan is still touted as the fair-haired boy of the GOP future who can talk rings around statistics and even proposed an economic platform for the GOP He was actually touted as a VP choice for McCain, but turned out to be the wrong sex (once Obama passed on Hillary Clinton). He was apparently not snide enough to serve as a Sarah Palin style attack dog, nor appealing enough (curiously, maybe gender again) to the religious conservatives.
He may be quietly grateful this cup passed from him. Today’s economic disaster does imperil his calling card as a Greenspan deregulator and blind believer in the stock market.
Nationwide he’s hardly alone, a week before the Nov. 4 election.
In North Carolina, Sen. Elizabeth Dole is in deep trouble and actually begging voters to make her the Crackerjack surprise in the split-party theory of leadership. In other words, keep the Dems from getting the White House, the House AND the Senate. It is a rather remarkable admission of how bad McCain is doing. Similarly, Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith is actually trying in his commercials to pretend to be a Democrat, so deeply has he hidden his GOP record.
Even Senate Minority (once Majority) Leader Mitch McConnell – who with Labor Secretary Elaine Chao has long been the third power couple in D.C. (behind Bush and Cheney) -- could lose his seat in a state still viewed as safe for McCain (Kentucky). And if McCain also sneaks into victory in once-solidly GOP Georgia, it might be without senate lap dog Saxby Chambliss, who is in the fight of his life against relatively unknown Democrat Jim Martin.
Like Dole, Chambliss did this partly to himself. She did little for North Carolina unlike the experienced Democrat now leading against her, Kay Hagan. Chambliss can’t shake the nastiness of how he won against war hero Max Cleland in a notorious 2002 TV campaign that linked the disabled veteran to Osama bin Laden (and today links Bush, Karl Rove and Chambliss in the history of dirty tricks).
Which brings us back to Ryan’s Dem-like TV campaign. Credit Democratic opponent Marge Krupp with a good race and an effective attack, but no political pundit thinks she has much of a chance against Ryan’s entrenched reputation and money.
Except, it seems, for Ryan himself. He’s running as if Krupp were the hound from hell.
Or more likely he thinks it’s McCain. Though co-chair of the Wisconsin GOP presidential campaign, Ryan is now criticizing how McCain has run the race. It seems both his safety and reputation require separation from the blinking senator from Arizona.