David Frum, a conservative who makes a habit of upsetting other conservatives, had an interesting take on Rep. Paul Ryan in the aftermath of the Republicans' upset loss of a House seat in a New York special election:
"Paul Ryan is the Barry Goldwater of 2012."
Ouch. That seems a bit extreme though maybe not extreme in a Goldwater kind of way. There's a lot of time between now and Election Day 2012, though it's difficult to see how House Republicans could walk away en masse from their embrace of Ryan's Medicare plan.
But Frum's point is certainly directionally right. Ryan's proposal to privatize Medicare does for the time being right now at least seem to be an albatross around Republican necks.
Frum points all of us to an analysis of the election results, conducted in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, by Henry Olsen of the American Enterprise Institute.
In a post on the National Review The Corner blog Olsen says the results from New York's 26th Congressional District carry an ominous warning for Republicans. Many blue collar voters who voted Republican in the past didn't this time.
To this Frum, who was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, has this anti-Panglossian observation:
Now we're likely headed to the worst of all possible worlds. The GOP will run on a platform crafted to be maximally obnoxious to downscale voters. Some may hope that Tim Pawlenty's biography may cushion the pain. Perhaps that's right, at least as compared to Mitt Romney, who in the 2008 primaries did worst among Republicans earning less than $100,000 a year. And yes, Pawlenty is keeping his distance from the Ryan plan. But biography only takes you so far. The big issues of 2012 will be jobs and incomes in a nation still unrecovered from the catastrophe of 2008-2009. What does the GOP have to say to hard-pressed voters? Thus far the answer is: we offer Medicare cuts, Medicaid cuts, and tighter money aimed at raising the external value of the dollar.
No candidate, not even if he or she is born in a log cabin, would be able to sell that message to America's working class.