Hey, Congressman Ryan! Need some help pulling that knife out of your back that was stuck there by unnamed Republicans?
You’ve heard them on television and read them on POLITICO — cheerful, defiant statements from Republican political professionals about Mitt Romney’s bold masterstroke in tapping Paul Ryan as his running mate, and turning the 2012 presidential race into a serious, far-reaching debate about budgets and the nation’s future.
Don’t buy it.
Away from the cameras, and with all the usual assurances that people aren’t being quoted by name, there is an unmistakable consensus among Republican operatives in Washington: Romney has taken a risk with Ryan that has only a modest chance of going right — and a huge chance of going horribly wrong.
In more than three dozen interviews with Republican strategists and campaign operatives — old hands and rising next-generation conservatives alike — the most common reactions to Ryan ranged from gnawing apprehension to hair-on-fire anger that Romney has practically ceded the election.
It is not that the public professions of excitement about the Ryan selection are totally insincere. It is that many of the most optimistic Republican operatives will privately acknowledge that their views are being shaped more by fingers-crossed hope than by a hard-headed appraisal of what’s most likely to happen.
And the more pessimistic strategists don’t even feign good cheer: They think the Ryan pick is a disaster for the GOP. Many of these people don’t care that much about Romney — they always felt he faced an improbable path to victory — but are worried that Ryan’s vocal views about overhauling Medicare will be a millstone for other GOP candidates in critical House and Senate races.
Let’s get to the caveats: No one is asserting that Washington operatives in either party are oracles or seers. What’s more, it is not as if there is anything like unanimity in GOP circles about the merits of the Ryan pick, though the mood of anxiety and skepticism is overwhelming.
Most of all, if you are one of those people who thinks if someone has something negative to say, they should have the guts to put their name on it, you won’t find much to impress you in this article. Nearly all the Republican professionals interviewed for this story said they would share their unfiltered views only “on background” rules of attribution.
You can guess what the criticisms are: “too young;” “too radical;” and my favorite, “not ready to be president.” As if Joe Biden is ready for anything other than a straightjacket?? If this looks familiar, it’s because this is almost exactly what was done to Sarah Palin in 2008 by anonymous DC insiders who felt threatened by a genuine reformer and someone who wasn’t “in the club.”
Now it’s Paul Ryan’s turn: another young, charismatic reformer who actually believes one can be honest with the American people about the problems we face. More worried about preserving their cushy staff and consulting jobs than dealing with our looming fiscal train wreck, Republican “pros” run to Center-Left shill Politico to make their fears known (and suck up to the other side) –“But, oh, don’t quote me by name, but Ryan’s budget plan is just too radical, and his Medicare plan will scare the elderly, and… and… and can I still come to next week’s cocktail party?”
We are running out of time before the clock strikes midnight and we turn into a Greek pumpkin. The Republican ticket is the only one even close to offering a real solution, and yet these “wise old hands” are doing everything they can to tear it down — and for what? So they can a have a frisson of excitement from playing “Secret Source?” For a pat on the head and a reassurance that they’re still important?
As a friend suggested, I wonder how many of these “loyal-but” Republicans are ex-McCain campaign staffers?
God save us from our enemies, for our “allies” are bad enough.
*I had another word in mind, beginning with “chicken,” but this is a family show.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)