C’mon, Victoria Jackson, Dennis Miller…
The Real Romney
By DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times
Published: August 27, 2012
The Romneys had a special family tradition. The most cherished member got to spend road trips on the roof of the car. Mitt spent many happy hours up there, applying face lotion to combat windburn.
The teenage years were more turbulent. He was sent to a private school, where he was saddened to find there are people in America who summer where they winter. He developed a lifelong concern for the second homeless, and organized bake sales with proceeds going to the moderately rich.
Some have said that Romney’s lifestyle is overly privileged, pointing to the fact that he has an elevator for his cars in the garage of his San Diego home. This is not entirely fair. Romney owns many homes without garage elevators and the cars have to take the stairs.
My friends said I was crazy. They said you weren’t who I thought you were. Paul Krugman said you were a fake fiscal conservative. Scott Lemieux called you a standard-issue right-winger. Jim Surowiecki compared you to Barry Goldwater. I didn’t believe the naysayers. Sometimes they said you were too extreme. Sometimes they said you were a squishy hypocrite for supporting TARP and the auto bailout. It seemed like they just wanted to make you look bad one way or the other. I thought they were just playing politics.
I knew you weren’t perfect. I didn’t like your vote against the Simpson-Bowles debt reduction plan. I worried that your weakness for tax cuts would squander the savings from your budget cuts. But I should have studied your record more carefully. I didn’t understand how pivotal you were in sinking the budget deal between President Obama and Speaker Boehner. I paid too much attention to what you said about cutting the defense budget and not enough attention to what you did. You accused the military of requesting too little money-a concern that makes no sense to anyone familiar with the acquisitive habits of government agencies. You also objected to setting financial savings targets and forcing the Pentagon to meet them, even though that’s how you proposed to control domestic spending.
I hate to admit it, but Krugman nailed me on this one. I was looking for Mr. Right-a fact-based, sensible fiscal conservative-and I tried to shoehorn you into that role.
That’s where you let me down, Paul. Since Mitt Romney tapped you as his running mate, you haven’t stood for fiscal restraint. You’ve attacked it. You warned voters in North Carolina and Virginia that cuts in the defense budget would take away their tax-supported jobs. And I cringe when I recall what I said about you and Medicare. “Ryan destroys Romney’s ability to continue making the dishonest, anti-conservative argument that Obamacare is evil because it cuts Medicare,” I wrote. “Now Romney will have to defend the honest conservative argument, which is that Medicare spending should be controlled.”
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Four days after Romney put you on the ticket, you began parroting his Medicare shtick. You protested that Obama’s $700 billion savings in the future growth of Medicare payments to providers-a spending reduction that any sensible conservative president would have sought, and that you had previously included in your budget plan-would “lead to fewer services for seniors.” You depicted a horror scenario: “a $3,600 cut in benefits for current seniors. Nearly one out of six hospitals and nursing homes are going to go out of business.” You assured seniors that the Romney-Ryan agenda for Medicare “does not affect your benefits.” And you promised future retirees “guaranteed affordability” of health care.
In short, you adopted every tactic in the liberal playbook. You framed a reduced rate of growth as a draconian cut. You inflated the likely impact of the reduction. You denounced any loss of services as unacceptable. You promised not to touch seniors’ benefits. And you reaffirmed a fiscally unsustainable guarantee. By my count, you’ve now done this in at least six speeches and rallies. Every day, you’re reinforcing the culture of entitlement and making it harder to rein in retirement programs.
Oh, Paul. And I thought you were so rugged.
Ok, you’re right. There is no such thing as conservative humor. The funny (in the sense of disconcerting or odd) part is that there is already a “Mr. Right-a fact-based, sensible fiscal conservative” who supports all that gutting of our social insurance contract.