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Posts for September, 2012

Paul Ryan: Denial of Same-Sex Marriage Is Part of “Agenda of Prosperity”

Jim Burroway

September 25th, 2012

Speaking at a campaign stop in Cincinnati today, GOP Vice Presidential candidate Rep Paul Ryan tied the denial of marriage equality for same-sex couples to the Romney campaign’s “agenda of prosperity.” Because, I guess, we can’t be prosperous if gay people are allowed to marry:

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The things you talk about like traditional marriage and family and entrepreneurship. These aren’t values that are indicative to any one person or creed or color. These are American values, these are universal human values. And so what Mitt and I are offering is an agenda of prosperity for everybody to have a chance to climb the ladder and get out of poverty in the lives of self-suifficiency. That’s the whole point we’re offering with this five point plan.

Paul Ryan: Reinstating DADT Would Be “A Step In The Wrong Direction”

Jim Burroway

September 24th, 2012

GOP Vice Presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan told a Florida TV station that while he voted against the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2010, he believes that DADT should not be reinstated now that so many gay soldiers have come out:

“Now that it’s done, we should not reverse it,” Ryan told WPTV NewsChannel 5 during a visit to Miami. “I think that would be a step in the wrong direction because people have already disclosed themselves.”

…”I talked to a lot of good friends of mine who are combat leaders in the theater and they just didn’t think the timing of this was right to do this when our troops were in the middle of harm’s way in combat,” Ryan said. “I think this issue is past us. It’s done. And, I think we need to move on.”

Two weeks ago, Rep Jim Jordan (R-OH), who chairs the influential 170-member Republican Study Committee, told an audience at the Values Voter Summit that he was “’certainly supportive of going back to the previous policy.”

Next President Ryan

A Commentary

Jim Burroway

August 11th, 2012
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Calling Dr. Freud. In this morning’s rollout of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice presidential running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney introduced Ryan as “the “next president of the United States” instead of as the next vice-president. After Ryan appeared on the stage erected in front of the U.S.S. Wisconsin — after all of the music, applause, and general fanfare died down — and just as Ryan was about to launch into his speech, Romney approached the microphone and said, “Every now and then, I’m known to make a mistake” to more laughter from the crowd.

Romney then said that he didn’t make a mistake in picking Ryan. Pundits will be debating that point over the next several months. As a caveat, I’ll remind you of my biases — I’m a Democrat and an Obama supporter (in case that somehow escaped your notice, although I have been critical of the President’s timidity at times) — and so I doubt that my saying that this is a mistake on Romney’s part will persuade many folks. But I do think that a look at the evidence is in order.

The Human Rights Campaign rates Rep. Ryan a “zero” on its scorecard, although I do think there’s room to argue  whether the HRC’s criteria are all that informative on the bigger issues. They certainly don’t help in drawing distinctions between Ryan and Romney — or Obama and Biden — since the HRC only rates representatives and senators. Romney, for his part, has a few silver linings on LGBT issues if you look hard enough, but sometimes you have to squint to see them. He says he doesn’t want to reimpose “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (although he says that repealing it was a mistake), he opposes marriage equality (and supports a federal marriage amendment banning same-sex marriage) but he had said that he supported civil unions (that was before he dumbed it down to, essentially, hospital visitation rights and couple of other bones). And, oh yeah, he kinda sorta thinks Boy Scouts should allow gay kids to sign up.

Ryan’s positions appear to be even more to the right on these issues than Romney. In 2006, he supported Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment which banned both same-sex marriage and civil unions. He voted against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act. He voted for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act five years ago, but he’s withdrawn his support since then.

I don’t know Ryans position on gay Boy Scouts. But that looks like our last hope for a possible pro-gay position. I’m not optimistic.

And this, I think, is just one example which strengthens the argument that Romney’s choice for a running mate is a mistake. Romney is down by a significant number of percentage points in just about every poll out there, and the gap has only been widening in many of the swing states. Conventional wisdom holds that the election is going to come down to those who are still undecided — which means that it comes down to those who think Romney and Obama both are similarly good (or similarly bad) candidates. Ideologues and true believers have picked sides long ago, and now it’s down to those who find things about both candidates that they like. You know, moderates.

Which is why it was presumed that Romney was going to have to find some way to appeal to those moderates, either by moving toward the center or by filing down some of the sharp edges from those points that scare moderates off. It’s why Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rob Portman (R-OH) were seen as having the inside track. They both represented swing states, and they both represented constituencies that were not solidly in Romney’s camps.

But when you look at it, Ryan also represents a constituency that is not solidly in Romney’s camp as well: tea partiers, a group that is increasingly seen in a negative light among moderate voters. They’ve never trusted Romney, and they remain a rebellious, restive constituency.  Ryan is their darling, and they’ll pick Ryan over Romney any day. And that appears to be the calculation that Romney’s making. But if he was going to make a play for moderates, this is not the pick he should have made. Tea partiers are famous for their disdain of moderates.

But here’s the thing that I find even more interesting. Ryan’s claim to fame is his very detailed budget proposals, which are solidly aligned with the tea party line. Romney’s campaign has been built almost entirely on not being specific about much of anything. He’s worked hard at perfect opacity on as many  issues as he can get away with. Ryan’s budget proposals, on the other hand, are filled with some very frightening specifics. The debate will now shift to Ryan’s policy proposals and not Romney’s, largely because it’s often hard to figure out what Romney’s policy proposals really are. It’s not at all difficult to figure out Ryan’s.

Romney’s gaffe today in introducing Ryan as the next president will undoubtedly generate a lot of laughs. But I suspect that it will serve as a fitting metaphor for where the campaign is headed. It’s no longer the Romney campaign. It’s the Ryan-Romney campaign. And that’s what makes Romney’s selection a huge mistake.