In fact, maybe he never should have brought forth such a politically counterintuitive budget plan in the first place. There's little that is smart, courageous or innovative in Ryan's conceptual approach to deficit reduction; he's just the latest new media-hyped "deficit hawk" to put something like it on the table. Ryan's axe-murderer M.O. has been in use since the time when he was barely out of his Underoos (Remember them? "Underwear that's fun to wear). It came about as a consequence of the trickle-down effect of Reagan-era federal tax cuts on localities.
The response to that conundrum was exactly the kind of fiscal approach on the local level that Ryan's federal deficit reduction approach parrots today. Back then, lost federal revenues caused many city and state governments to impose draconian austerity measures and deep budget-cuts as a means of balancing their budgets.
Today, Reagan is gone, but so are many other things, including federal programs where budget cuts can offset tax cuts. There has been over 30 years of reducing tax rates; cuts in governmental waste, fraud, and abuse; reductions in the federal workforce; and consolidating or eliminating arguably unnecessary or overlapping government agencies. There aren't many areas of government left from which cuts that significantly address deficit reduction can be made. Ryan doubtlessly realized this forcing him to summon the "courage" needed to propose turning Medicare into a voucher program; privatizing Social Security; and gutting Medicaid as a means of staking out further tax cuts for millionaires. Hey, the money's got to come from somewhere.
In Too Deep
So why would a candidate serious about winning but struggling to attract the independent middle-class and elderly voters needed to win the election select someone with Ryan's kind of baggage as his running mate?
Over the course of his campaign, the traits of other-worldliness that marked Mitt's endless gaffes have caused many to wonder if they were the result of some kind of here-to-fore unknown set of manifestly post-rational thought processes -- in other words; utter cluelessness. That makes sense if a candidate's rationale for running is to win. But what if the goal is simply to run? For some competitors, having merely made it to the starting line is tantamount to "mission accomplished."
It's certainly possible that Mitt's gaffes were simply the unforced errors of a candidate for whom politics is out of his realm but for whom running for president addresses some kind of oedipal drive, namely, to atone for his father's inability to secure the 1968 GOP nomination and a shot at the presidency.
So it could be that with his "up next" status on the GOP presidential pecking order expiring as of November 2012, perhaps Mitt felt compelled to try to move a step or two beyond the point which marked the end of his father's political journey.
But of late, things have changed. The rosy logistical parameters that by the 2010 mid-terms had so clearly defined the GOPs road back into the Oval office -- a design in which a business wonk seemed the key element -- have been significantly altered over the course of this brutally hot summer.
Now, in the ever-shortening days of late summer, polls are showing the odds he'll beat Obama to be growing longer. At this point, perhaps Romney has come to realize that he's finally found his fate. Perhaps he has come to know that either his competitive drive for the Oval office wasn't deep enough or, as the gaffes unfolded, that he was in too deep.
What with the persistent media focus on his tax returns; the jaw-dropping nature of his gaffes; and the possibility that some deaths in this country may be related -- directly or indirectly -- to the peculiar way Bain Capital practices capitalism; if you're Mitt, at some point you're probably saying to yourself: "Hell, I'm too rich for this crap. Driver: To the Hamptons!"
But after it's all over Mitt's mark on politics is likely to take the form of a bumbling footnote -- little more than a reference marker for similar political fiascos like Bob Dole's 1994 campaign (where, at one point the 72-year-old candidate toppled head first off a stage ) or the entire 2012 GOP nomination process. But he'll likely still rest easy knowing there's one factor he can parlay into some suitably self-redeeming spin -- his father. The old man never even made it to the presidential starting gate back in 1968 ironically, for reasons that mirror issues dogging Mitt's candidacy today: no love from the hard-right and a penchant for gaffes .
So okay, maybe Mitt doesn't become president; at least he can boast of having achieved a political goal his father was unable to attain -- the GOP presidential nomination. That's his fallback. At least he made it to the starting line.
At this stage, Mitt's probably thinking: "That's good enough for me."
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