Last Tuesday a Democrat came from behind to win a special election in New York’s overwhelmingly Republican 26th Congressional District. Kathy Hochul’s surge coincided with heavy, issue-specific campaign advertising, reminding NY-26 voters that Republicans in Congress supported a plan to turn Medicare into something like a benefit-limiting voucher program, aka Not Medicare.
Rightbloggers quickly grasped the true lesson of the event: That the man behind the GOP program, Congressman Paul Ryan, should run for President.
Earlier this month the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, smelling blood, pumped $250,000 worth of ad money into Hochul’s race against Republican Jane Corwin. Hochul flooded the airwaves with ads like “Look for Yourself,” which aligned Corwin with the “Republican budget that would decimate Medicare.”
More hilarious was this charming viral video of a dapper Republican throwing an old lady off a cliff, produced by The Agenda Project.
We hardly need tell you what rightblogger reactions to this were like, but it’s a holiday weekend so let’s enjoy a few:
“The same people who are all for euthanasia and death panels are essentially calling Paul Ryan a murderer for trying to save Medicare,” groused Creative Minority Report.
“The Dems conveniently leave out the part that any change in Medicare will not affect people on Medicare now,” said The Conservative Lady, “only those who are younger than 55.” So, seniors, it’s only your children who’ll get pushed over the cliff when they get old and sick — why you stressing?
Some plotted a response ad.
“Maybe some conservative group should produce a sequel in which the granny pushes young children off the cliff?” tweeted The Weekly Standard’s Philip Klein. “An ad that’s truer to life,” rejoined Allahpundit of Hot Air, “would have [kids] tossing money at granny and then diving headfirst off the cliff voluntarily.” (Oh, please make that ad.)
Allahpundit wasn’t the only one thinking big. At the Daily Caller, Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel put their heads together and came up with several sure-fire responses. Sample: “For nearly 100 years, this country has been the world’s greatest power. Thanks to the cowardice and shortsightedness of the current Congress and administration, the American Era is coming to an end. This is a self-inflicted disaster of historic proportions.” Add LOLcats and you’ve got a hit.
In the days before defeat, some rightbloggers saw the electoral writing on the wall and were preemptively embittered.
Ace of Spades, asserting that the Democrats would let Medicare go bankrupt and bring in “death panels,” said, “if, faced with these facts, seniors not only acquiesce to this outcome, but in fact affirmatively choose it, then they’ll have no one to blame but themselves, and they can cry to someone else when they can’t get coverage.” Nobody’s gonna tell him Republicans don’t care about seniors, including seniors.
Jazz Shaw of Hot Air tried to rally GOP voters with this battle cry: “One seat more or less isn’t going to make tsunami level headlines. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the effort.”
What goes around, comes around.[/caption]
The impact of Medicare policy in the race was evident: Late polls in the district showed voters were as concerned with Medicare as with jobs or the deficit. But right after the results came in (and, for some early despairers, a little before), some rightbloggers tried to minimize it.
Conn Carroll of the Washington Examiner expostulated on “the complete irrelevance of NY-26.” “The GOP Loss In New York Was About New York, Not Paul Ryan,” said RedState’s Erick Erickson. “Republicans suck in New York. Period. End of Story.”
Erickson’s colleague Nikitas3 spun more intricately: Though he agreed with the conservative consensus that the race’s “Tea Party” dark horse Jack Davis was merely “a shill” for the Democrats, Nikitas3 insisted that Davis’ 9 percent showing should be counted with Corwin’s, and that “51% of voters in NY 26 apparently agreed that Medicare must be reformed,” which meant “truly is a new day dawning, and Democrats should be running scared.” Haw! Who’s the loser now, libtards?
At Smart Politics, Eric Ostermeier‘s spin was also impressive: “NY-26 has only had a partisan voting index of +6 points for the Republican Party over the last two presidential elections,” he said. For some reason Ostermeier did not mention that, when it came to congressional elections, the GOP has held the NY-26 seat for 137 of the past 154 years, and that Republican Chris Lee, whose resignation in a sex scandal necessitated the special election, won in 2010 by 47 points.
“The MSM will message for Democrats all day long,” sniffed Professor William A. Jacobson of Legal Insurrection. “Already last night the NY Times rand a banner ‘Rubuke Seen To Medicare Plan.'”
Which is funny, because Ryan himself acknowledged that fear of his Medicare plan was a factor in the race (“If you can scare seniors into thinking that their current benefits are being affected, that’s going to have an effect”). Even Mitch McConnell seemed to be getting cold feet about Ryan’s plan.
Rightbloggers decided it was time to push harder for Ryan’s Medicare reform — against Democrats, but also against “wobbly*” Republicans who, like the Republican voters in NY-26 who bolted, don’t endorse every radical idea conservatives present to them. (* This usage refers to both Ryan’s own words and to Margaret Thatcher’s. Rightbloggers love their secret codes.)
“Beltway Republicans are going wobbly in the wake of the GOP’s NY-26 loss,” warned Michelle Malkin. “…Tea Party activists need to stand by Ryan and buck him up when the GOP establishment cuts and runs.” “This is no time to go wobbly,” said Sissy Willis. The Washington Examiner denounced “Republicans who are going wobbly, distancing themselves from Ryan in search of a political advantage.” Etc.
Many rhapsodized over Ryan’s new video explaining his plan. “I think Paul Ryan’s explanation of why Medicare needs fundamental reform is greatly enhanced by his diagrams,” said Michael Williams. “Paul Ryan Is Not Giving Up,” said The Real Revo. “Another nifty floating charts video,” exulted Andrew Stiles of National Review.
So eager were they for affirmation that they even took crumbs from their hated nemesis of years gone by, Slick Willie Clinton.
Clinton said at a budget forum that “you should draw the conclusion [from NY-26] that the people made a judgment that the proposal in the Republican budget is not the right one. I agree with that.” But he also told Ryan in semi-private conversation that “I hope Democrats don’t use this as an excuse to do nothing,” which was recorded.
Good ol’ Bill, triangulating to the last! And rightbloggers went for it.
“The Video Democrats Don’t Want Voters To See OR Hear…. Bubba Saving Private Ryan….” elipsized The Last Refuge. “Heck, even fmr. Pres. Bill Clinton disagrees with his party on this,” said Virginia Virtucon. “William Jefferson Clinton Is Right,” proclaimed Daniel Foster at National Review. “Bill Clinton – The Only Adult Democrat,” said Professor Jacobson.
“Ryan/Clinton 2012?” asked Allahpundit. “Could be that he’s earnestly concerned about the Medicare time bomb and appreciates Ryan’s leadership on it.”
“So, is Clinton selling out the Democrats, making them look bad and giving Ryan a boost?” asked Ann Althouse. “…Or is Clinton out there on his own, peeling away from some or all of the Democrats, perhaps creating some kind of opening for Hillary?” “And do I hear a Hillary 2016 in the background?” asked Hyscience. Questions remain!
Actually, the brethren were less interested in a Hillary campaign, hilarious as that would be, than in a Paul Ryan for President bandwagon.
Ryan’s Congressional colleague Eric Cantor had already said Ryan would make a good President, and William Kristol included Ryan among his top contenders in his “The Next President Isn’t Currently Running” column.
And after the NY-26 election, columnist Charles Krauthammer suggested that Ryan should run as “the one man who can explain [Medicare reform], argue it and actually change minds on this.”
“No wonk on a white horse seems to be riding to the rescue” of the GOP in 2012, lamented Jonah Goldberg in his post-election “Run, Paul Ryan, Run” column. “Unless someone suddenly rises to the challenge, the cries of ‘Help us, Paul Ryan, you’re our only hope!’ will only get louder.”
“Draft Paul Ryan?” asked Andrew Stiles. “Conservative pundits have hardly been quiet about their desire to see [Ryan] throw his hat into what many see as a less-than-stellar ring of prospective Republican presidential candidates…
“Paul Ryan for President,” said Points and Figures. “Democrats are going to run against him anyway,” said John Brodigan of The Right Hook, “and all of our other candidates are one big ball of ‘meh,’ so why shouldn’t Paul Ryan run for President?”
When Ryan said, “This is a time for leaders to be leaders. This is not a time for us to follow our fears, this is a time to lead,” Brandon Kiser of The Right Sphere swooned, “Can you not see the man saying the exact same thing after being inaugurated in 2013, ready to tackle real problems with real solutions?”
Before they convince the rest of America, they have to convince Ryan. Having previously declined to run for Herb Kohl’s Senate seat, Ryan has also declined to run for President: “I really believe I can do more for this cause where I am right now as chairman of the House Budget Committee.” This Daniel Foster headlined, “Ryan: I’m Not Running for President ‘Right Now.'” William Kristol went the same way: “Not ‘Right Now’ — Paul Ryan opens the door for a presidential run.” “When asked on camera if he would consider running for president he never said no,” gushed Jonah Goldberg.
Keep hope alive, guys! Never mind that citizens nationwide currently feel as protective of Medicare as the ones in NY-26 — once they get to know Congressman Ryan the way you do, their hearts are sure to melt.
But you may have to postpone the draft campaign: Rudy Giuliani is the GOP front-runner of the week, succeeding previous title-holders Donald Trump and Herman Cain. Bright side: That position’s a real revolving door, so your chances of getting Ryan in there sometime this summer are good.