By Cliff Kincaid
Mitt Romney’s pick of a Democratic punching bag, Paul Ryan, as his vice president, enables Obama and the Democrats to shift the debate from jobs and the economy to pushing grandma off a cliff. The latter actually took the form of an anti-Republican ad on Medicare from a “progressive” group supporting Obama. It has now been resurrected for dramatic effect.
Bulletin News, a good summary of how the major media are framing the campaign, reports, “The consensus media view on both TV and print is that Ryan’s selection is likely to spark a prolonged debate on his budget plan, diverting the public’s attention away from the economy and thus boosting the President’s reelection hopes.”
In order to counter this liberal media bias, Romney and Ryan went on one of the top liberal shows, the CBS News “60 Minutes” program, to defend their proposed reform of Medicare. It was nearly the equivalent of Sarah Palin going on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric to discuss her reading habits. As Palin herself has written, that was done at the suggestion of a John McCain adviser, Nicole Wallace, who used to work for Couric and CBS News. It was a trap designed to carry on a narrative about what the liberal media wanted the public to believe about the Republican ticket. That narrative then was that Palin was not qualified to be vice-president.
The narrative has now been changed from jobs to entitlements, a shift that could cost the GOP many thousands of votes from seniors scared of losing their benefits. Liberals are gleeful. Many conservative commentators, including Rush Limbaugh, are falling in line behind the Republican ticket.
The problem in 2008 went beyond advisers, as the HBO film, “Game change,” made clear. Despite elements of Palin-bashing, it accurately depicted McCain as a candidate who did not want to take the gloves off when attacking Obama. McCain was shown being offended when Republicans suggested Obama and/or his associates were anti-American or had Muslim sympathies.
Now, McCain, who has ridiculed conservatives for raising security concerns about Obama State Department dealings with the Muslim Brotherhood, has emerged as Romney’s most vocal defender on outlets like Fox News. It is telling that McCain has been announced as a major speaker at the GOP convention in Tampa while Palin, who took the fight to Obama and his radical allies, will not be there.
To provide another example of where they are missing the boat, or ship, in this case, consider the announcement of Paul Ryan as the VP.
While pushing grandma off a cliff is an image that grabs one’s attention, another was in evidence during Romney’s announcement on Saturday of Ryan as his running mate. The pick was announced as Romney and Ryan descended from a battleship, the U.S.S. Wisconsin. It was an impressive display of America’s military strength.
However, both candidates then proceeded to give speeches that included no references to national security. This is comparable to giving a foreign policy address in front of the IRS building. Who in the Romney campaign is setting up these events and missing great opportunities to draw a contrast with Obama? Is this stupidity or sabotage?
The use of a battleship as a prop in this instance is doubly curious because Romney issued a foreign policy white paper last year that advocated building more ships for the Navy. It is an impressive document. The pick of Ryan would have been the perfect opportunity to talk about a strong national defense. What better place to talk about a strong Navy than in front of a Navy ship in Norfolk, Virginia, flanked by many veterans?
Romney could have given this talk, while Ryan could have followed with remarks about how fiscal problems threaten America’s national security.
Perhaps the omission was deliberate, since Ryan has no foreign policy experience, a major Achilles’ heel for the campaign. Ryan gave a foreign policy speech on June 2, 2011, to the little-known Alexander Hamilton Society, which was hailed by The Weekly Standard as hard-hitting and pro-defense. But some of the comments, especially on a “liberalizing China” being “integrated” into the international community, the Arab Spring outcome in the Middle East, and our “Saudi allies,” seem extremely naive.
In the speech, he didn’t address the Russian threat, except to say, “Take a moment and imagine a world led by China or by Russia,” even though Romney has referred to Russia as America’s number one geo-political foe. Ryan talked about “our victory in the Cold War,” without noting that the Russian government led by former KGB officer Vladimir Putin has many of the same characteristics as the old Soviet regime.
Ryan expressed the hope in the speech that while the revolutions sweeping the Middle East would “result in governments that respect the rights of their citizens,” one form of “autocracy” could be “supplanted by another.”
The latter is precisely what is happening in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood is consolidating power and ordinary Egyptians are protesting Obama Administration collaboration in this outcome. But while the Hosni Mubarak “autocracy” was pro-American, the new “democratic” government of Egypt is run by adherents of a global Islamist theocratic movement that has spawned many of the anti-American terrorist groups of the modern world.
So Ryan’s “cautious hope” about the Arab Spring has been dashed.
Has he followed up with a denunciation of Obama’s embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood? I can find no record of that. He was certainly not one of the five brave members of Congress asking for an official investigation of security problems and Muslim Brotherhood influence in the State Department. On his website, Ryan calls Hamas an Islamist terrorist group whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction, which refuses to recognize Israel’s existence, and calls Osama Bin Laden a “martyr.” Left unsaid is that Hamas is a spin-off from the Muslim Brotherhood, the same group now running Egypt.
Many conservatives, including media personalities such as Glenn Beck, were warning that the Arab Spring would be co-opted by anti-American forces. But Beck was labeled a conspiracy theorist and forced off the air at Fox News.
Conservatives had recalled that the Democratic Jimmy Carter Administration helped bring the Ayatollah to power in Iran, on the grounds that the previous government was autocratic and corrupt and should go. The Arab and Muslim sympathies of the Obama Administration were even more pronounced, a warning sign if there ever was one.
What has been happening before our very eyes, in contrast to the downfall of the Shah, is not stupidity on the part of the U.S. Government but deliberate strategy. Obama, a figure described as Louis Farrakhan and Karl Marx rolled into one, is not the incompetent Jimmy Carter. Obama is a true believer in the faux concept of “Muslim democracy” that Robert Kagan of the liberal Brookings Institution has been advising Romney to accept. It means the leadership of both political parties remains blind to the threat.
Now that the Arab Spring has given us an Islamist takeover of Egypt, the most important Arab state, the Romney campaign is silent about the emerging threat. The candidate himself refuses to discuss possible Muslim Brotherhood agents of influence in the Obama Administration, saying the issue is not part of his campaign.
Although Fox News commentators have been cheerleading for the Romney-Ryan ticket, Fox also struck a somewhat discordant note by interviewing former Bush official and advisor to the Newt Gingrich campaign Christian Whiton, who worried about Ryan’s youth and lack of foreign policy experience. He also said he didn’t yet see any significance difference between how the Obama Administration and a Romney Administration would handle the growing Islamic and other threats. He explained, “There’s just nothing in the past that indicates that either of these men will really change the way Washington has been handling threats like Islamism, Arab Spring, a growing China, etc. etc.”
Perhaps this helps explain why Romney and Ryan, during their appearances before the U.S.S. Wisconsin, failed to mention a rising China, a resurgent Russia, or global Islam. Instead, they want to fight this out completely on economic grounds, in a manner that plays into Obama’s strengths as a class-warfare demagogue.
But Ryan has some further explaining of his own to do on the national defense issue. The House-passed Ryan-authored “Path to Prosperity” budget included $78 billion in “defense efficiency savings” or cuts from the military budget. But he also voted for $487 billion in cuts over the next five years in the debt deal with Obama. In that deal, the debt ceiling was raised, in exchange for mandatory spending cuts. In a flip-flop, Ryan now opposes automatic cuts to the defense budget.
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, has written about Ronald Reagan’s approach to assembling a coalition of economic, social and national security-oriented conservatives capable of winning national elections. Gaffney argues that Romney has campaigned as if he only wants to maintain one leg of that three-legged stool – fiscal discipline. The Ryan pick represents the same leg of that stool.
Except for Romney’s brief reference to the value of human life and Paul Ryan being a Catholic, the social issues were invisible as the new ticket talked about dollars and cents. “A faithful Catholic, Paul believes in the worth and dignity of every human life,” Romney said. That was it.
“Unfortunately,” Gaffney wrote, “it seems increasingly that today’s Republicans want to bet that they can regain the White House by cutting off two legs from that stool, disregarding, if not dismissing, outright conservative social issues and national-security themes.”
His comments are even more apt after the Ryan pick. Going on “60 Minutes” in order to woo the liberal media after this roll-out makes the whole thing even more inexplicable. It is as if Romney is playing to lose.