Friday, August 17, 2012

Taking my advice

Aha! On Monday, I wrote,
If I were the campaign director of the Romney-Ryan team, I'd send Paul Ryan down to The Villages in Florida and to Palm Beach and to five or six places where they can bring in a lot of seniors. Then have Ryan go through his presentation. Have him answer questions until there are no more questions. The national media might not cover it, but the local media would. They haven't ever seen something like a major party candidate doing something like that. The Romney team can put the whole show up on the internet or hand out DVDs in retirement communities.

And now the campaign has announced that Paul Ryan is headed to The Villages in central Florida on Saturday to talk about his plans on Medicare. And he's bringing his mother along with him.

I hope that is the first stop of many throughout Florida. And bring his mother along for each stop. CBS might have edited out Ryan's comment that his mother is on Medicare, but her presence can help get that point across. Using a candidate's mother to inoculate him from the charge that he wants to take Medicare from today's seniors is part of the successful strategy that the GOP has been touting that they used in a special congressional election last year to elect Republican Mark Amodei despite the accusations that the Democrats hurled at him for having supported Paul Ryan's plan on Medicare.

And it's not quite a powerpoint, but Romney is now using a white board to contrast his Medicare plan to Obama's.
It's reminiscent of Ross Perot. Romney is a bit awkward with it, but I think that that actually helps him come across as more sincere and straightforward. As Allahpundit approvingly notes,
Pulling out the white board does two things for him. One: It engages voters on policy on a level that rhetoric can’t. It’s essentially a visual cue for seriousness. If Romney’s committed to winning the Medicare debate, he needs to convince voters that the war of words with Obama isn’t election fingerpointing as usual but a real argument over hugely consequential policy differences. The better he is at conveying that, the more the public will resist liberal Mediscaring, I think. Two: It builds on the new identity Romney’s forged for himself as a policy wonk by picking Ryan as VP. I flagged that in my very first post after Ryan was announced: It felt like, until last week, Mitt’s campaign had been about nothing in particular except how bad Obama’s been on the economy. Now, suddenly, he’s an entitlement reformer par excellence, bold enough that he’s actually willing to bust out a de facto blackboard for his cause. I imagine undecided voters look at that and feel a frisson of technocratic competence, even if they’re not following along with every last number. That’s an essential feeling for them to have before they make the leap of replacing a sitting president with a challenger.
Democrats might think that seniors are so dumb that all they need is to demonize Romney and Ryan and that the seniors aren't open to a measured policy debate, but I have more respect for senior citizens. They're concerned about their own Medicare but they're also very worried about the future they'll be leaving for their children and grandchildren.

Charles Krauthammer adds in his own comments on how it benefits Romney and Ryan to talk about Medicare.
If Mitt Romney and Ryan can successfully counterattack Mediscare, the Ryan effect becomes a major plus. Because:

(a) Ryan nationalizes the election and makes it ideological, reprising the 2010 dynamic that delivered a “shellacking” to the Democrats.

(b) If the conversation is about big issues, Obama cannot hide from his dismal economic record and complete failure of vision. In Obama’s own on-camera commercial — “the choice . . . couldn’t be bigger” — what’s his big idea? A 4.6-point increase in the marginal tax rate of 2 percent of the population.

That’s it? That’s his program? For a country with stagnant growth, ruinous debt and structural problems crying out for major entitlement and tax reform? Obama’s “plan” would cut the deficit from $1.20 trillion to $1.12 trillion. It’s a joke.

(c) Image. Ryan, fresh and 42, brings youth, energy and vitality — the very qualities Obama projected in 2008 and has by now depleted. “Hope and change” has become “the other guy killed a steelworker’s wife.” From transcendence to the political gutter in under four years. A new Olympic record.

While Ryan’s effect on 2012 is as yet undetermined — it depends on the success or failure of Mediscare — there is less doubt about the meaning of Ryan’s selection for beyond 2012. He could well become the face of Republicanism for a generation.
Krauthammer goes on to trace through the history of how vice presidents and vice presidential candidates become future presidential candidates or presidents. By choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has done more to shape the future of the Republican Party than many would have thought possible a few months ago during the primaries when conservatives were gritting their teeth while planning to vote unhappily against Obama rather than for Romney.

As the WSJ points out, the standard rules just aren't working.
According to the usual Beltway rules, the Washington potentates call for an honest debate even as they defend or excuse the rank Democratic falsehoods in order to defeat even the modest reform that they will then claim we need, if only there had been an honest debate. The Republicans are supposed to act like Quakers amid the pummeling and are only allowed to appeal to columnists and wonks with their boring old budget charts and obscure details. And then lose elections.

Well, now we're learning that the same tactics can be used against Democrats too. The difference this time is that the Romney-Ryan ticket is trying to create a political shock absorber against Mediscare so voters can consider the substance of a genuine reform alternative that modernizes the entitlement state, rather than simply expanding it.....Either Mr. Obama's apologists can defend raiding one insolvent entitlement to finance another one and own the cuts. Or they can say these Medicare cuts don't really count as cuts, as the media fact checkers are suddenly finding ways to do. In which case it means repudiating Mr. Obama's repeated claims that the Affordable Care Act reduces the deficit and that "I have strengthened Medicare," as he put it in Dubuque on Wednesday.
And Obama's own plans to "fix" Medicare involve choices that will be very unappealing to voters.
What he rarely mentions is how he plans to fix Medicare under ObamaCare. First the government will do things like arbitrarily commanding providers to deliver the exact same benefits except for $716 billion less. When that doesn't work, as it surely won't, the feds will take control of the case-by-case decisions currently made between patients and doctors and substitute the judgment of technocrats. (See what's already happening in Massachusetts, "RomneyCare 2.0," August 6.)

ObamaCare does this by empowering an unelected 15-member panel to rule over medicine and tell doctors how to practice, with no legislative or judicial review. Before he decided to fire up Mediscare again, Mr. Obama used to concede that this form of rationing by elites was inevitable. In a 2009 interview with David Leonhardt, he mused whether his own grandmother's hip replacement after a terminal cancer diagnosis represented "a sustainable model" for society.
Obamacare made the GOP counterattacks possible because Obama himself was the one who signed a plan that Democrats wrote that changes Medicare as we know it. And he still did nothing for the looming insolvency of the plan. So it's a double-sided vulnerability for the Democrats.

Let the debates begin. Bring on the white boards and trips to Florida!