This time however, I don't have to go back and do a line by line take down of his most recent contribution to our public debate. Ezra Klein has done that for us, along with Dylan Mathews.
From Mathews piece we get:
Obama cut Medicare
Obama didn't solve the housing crisis
A GM plant in Ryan's district shut down on Obama's watch
The stimulus was the biggest expenditure in US history
The affordable care act increases taxes on millions of small businesses
The stimulus was full of fraud
The Affordable Care Act was a government takeover
Obama doesn't have a debt plan
Obama didn't support the Bowles-Simpson report
Obama caused the debt downgrade
Obama added more to the deficit than any other President
Ezra Klein then says, "after rereading Ryan’s speech, I went back to Sarah Palin’s 2008 convention address. Perhaps, I thought, this is how these speeches always are. But Palin’s criticisms, agree or disagree, held up."
Quite simply, the Romney campaign isn’t adhering to the minimum standards required for a real policy conversation. Even if you bend over backward to be generous to them — as the Tax Policy Center did when they granted the Romney campaign a slew of essentially impossible premises in order to evaluate their tax plan — you often find yourself forced into the same conclusion: This doesn’t add up, this doesn’t have enough details to be evaluated, or this isn’t true.
I don’t like that conclusion. It doesn’t look “fair” when you say that. We’ve been conditioned to want to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame, and the fact of the matter is, I would like to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame. I’d personally feel better if our coverage didn’t look so lopsided. But first the campaigns have to be relatively equal. So far in this campaign, you can look fair, or you can be fair, but you can’t be both.
This should have been obvious as soon as Paul Ryan was picked for VP, if not sooner. It is obvious from anything more than a cursory glance that the world view espoused in any of his documents is detached from any kind of a grounding in empirical reality or recent research (sure, the tax recommendations follow Feldstein's groundbreaking 1980s paper on the subject, but computer analysis of the effects of taxes have come a very long way since then and show many of those initial conclusions to be based on standard Keynesian multipliers and the effect of recessions on revenue). It is an expression of how they wish the world would be and the kind of opponents they wished they had, not the world of actual soil, water, and air or their flesh and blood opponents. This election comes down to one party dealing with some kind of ivory-tower reality composed of Platonic forms and another party trying to deal with the dirt and grime of the everyday, though that party shows the flabbiness that comes from their ideas not going through the tempering fire of critique and competition. But at least those weak, flabby ideas are composed of more than ether and faerie-dust. We need to have a real conversation to get through our current problems, and the current political dynamic is preventing that from happening.