August 24, 2012
Last week, the GOP and the new team of Romney-Ryan effectively shifted the public political dialogue from their most effective weapon, jobs and the economy, to Medicare and middle class-focused entitlement programs—usually a losing proposition for Republicans and one that seems likely to continue.
The early after-effect of Mitt Romney’s selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) as his vice presidential running mate appeared to draw a fairly tepid response from most Americans. The political dialogue indeed has shifted, but in a manner most Republicans hadn’t expected.
While their talking points still stress the economy as the top issue, approaching mid-week following the public announcement of Ryan’s selection at an event held symbolically on the battleship Wisconsin, the political discourse being actively discussed are details of the Ryan-authored GOP House budget proposal pertaining to Medicare. Discussions about what they would become under a Romney-Ryan administration versus a second-term Obama presidency are common. Most polls are noting how most Americans feel about a preponderance of issues that are likely to be exposed as directly opposite what Republicans have been espousing concerning the major federal entitlement programs and managing the deficit.
Having that public dialogue and discourse bodes better for the Democratic Party than the GOP to the extent that Republican congressional members up for re-election have expressed concern about what effect Romney and Ryan at the head of the GOP ballot in November will have on them in downstream voting at the state and local levels. The RNC is dealing with concerns expressed by some of its congressional members who are in contested election battles that could make them try to distance themselves from aspects of the Ryan plan for Medicare, or the evolving “Romney-Ryan plan," once it’s delved deeper into and details made known.
In contrasting the program changes going forward by each side, the Romney-Ryan plan entails the most radical changes which could be significant to voters in the still uncertain times that we currently face, and since not much detail has been provided by team Romney, despite his statements and assurances to the contrary. Stumping on the campaign trail early last week, Romney refused to discuss details and differences in the Ryan plan with the Romney-Ryan Plan at first. Although Romney appeared to be distancing himself from Ryan’s plans for Medicare in a televised interview, while still avoiding details and specifics, he was apparently content to leave viewers and media to simply "trust" his words.
The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released at the beginning of this week confirms there was no bounce from Ryan’s selection and that Romney is still trailing Obama. With Ryan's link to Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and the “forcible rape” legislation they co-sponsored, more focused attention has been on things other than the economy—potentially damaging things they’d rather not have many average Americans know and hear about—that Republicans caused by their own actions. It should be noted that “forcible rape” verbiage was removed from the bill’s second and third iterations before the GOP House passed it.
Beyond the temerity to invite this re-focused, offensive campaign in areas of demonstrated GOP weakness, Republican messaging already has been severely lacking, and their explanations offered did not really say much of anything to undecided or wavering voters who might be paying attention. Additionally, many might be uncomfortable voting for a change at the top and in direction for the country, with knowledge of what they currently have and the challengers’ platform including radical changes in existing programs that offer too few specifics, if any at all.
Medicare dominated the discussion last week and the Akin situation this week, with reports of Ryan under fire again regarding contradictory statements made about a constituent’s request for help obtaining stimulus funds a couple of years ago. All are likely to become prominent again following the convention in Tampa.
A copy of a letter with Ryan’s signature affixed was produced last week and could lead to further doubts about his veracity after being caught in two other mistruths in his first week on the stump. With only a few days to go before the RNC convention, an augmented Team Romney-Ryan still appears to take two steps back for every step forward. It adds credence to the notion that they’re making it up as they go, relying heavily on deception, a high percentage of senior advisors who are Bush-Cheney "alumni" and apparently broadcast directives from Rush Limbaugh.
Tropical storm Isaac might not be the only source of turbulence bearing down on Tampa next week.
If you like to write about U.S. politics and Campaign 2012, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.
Sources, resources and references: Allvoices, MSNBC, NBC,