Political Animal


September 24, 2012 4:30 PM Eddie Haskell Maintains His Mask

By Ed Kilgore

The day Mitt Romney put Paul Ryan on the ticket, my immediate reaction was to speculate that this was a definite effort to get conservative activists off Mitt’s back and liberate him to run whatever kind of campaign he wanted: “Here you go! Now STFU!”

If that was the idea, the memo didn’t seem to get around, because Ryan’s presence on the ticket has become an actual irritant to many of the Wisconsin’s fans who are increasingly agitated that this isn’t the Randian anti-entitlement firebrand they know and love. WaPo’s Felicia Sonmez and David A. Fahrenthold have the low-down:

Conservatives had hoped that Mitt Romney’s choice of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) as his running mate would make Romney act more like Ryan — bold, specific, confident.
Instead, in the six weeks since Ryan became the GOP vice presidential nominee — and particularly in the three weeks since the Republican National Convention in Tampa — there has been mounting concern among Republicans that the pick has made Ryan look more like Romney — vague, cautious and limited to pre-set talking points….
“I was wrong. When Paul Ryan was picked, I really thought this meant that the Romney campaign was shifting gears and was going to have a debate about big issues,” said Michael Tanner, an expert on health care and the budget at the libertarian Cato Institute.
He said that Romney’s campaign had previously cast the race as a referendum on Obama instead of as a choice between two clear visions. That hasn’t changed, Tanner said.
“Why do you pick somebody like Paul Ryan if you’re going to run a referendum, Obama’s-done-a-bad-job campaign?” Tanner asked.

That’s the question being raised by all sorts of people on the Right who weren’t informed or didn’t accept that the gift of the vice-presidential nomination was the last gift the Romney campaign intended to give them before November 6.

So the Eddie Haskell persona Ryan’s put on from the moment he was chosen—reassuring old folks he’s not the Social-Security-and-Medicare hater his record would suggest, and is instead actually their very best friend, determined to protect their benefits from mean old Barack Obama—is upsetting those who are fond of the smart-and-snarky Eddie who emerges when Mrs. Cleaver isn’t around. Indeed, Team Mitt is in serious danger of falling between two stools here, picking a vulnerable running mate whose downside can’t be made to go away even as his upside is obscured.

Before it’s over, Tim Pawlenty may look better than ever in the rear-view mirror.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on September 24, 2012 4:47 PM:

    In some respects, you've gotta love Conservatives!

    They want their candidates to sell Conservatism to the masses, and then wonder why they back away from doing that?


    Yeah, stupid as you pundits and believers may be, your candidates aren't anywhere near as stupid!

    YOU try selling a totalled Edsel, with no motor, no tranny, a busted steering-wheel, rusty axles, baby poo on the front seat, baby puke on the back seat, the corpse of a dead hooker in the trunk, for $1 million dollars, and blame the candidate when he says the car's a collector item of interest, because he/she knows it won't sell for more than $1.98 if they had to give details.

    "Why won't Candidate X tell the people that we want to cut taxes for the rich to nothing, and feck the poor and middle class up the @$$ with broken glass and razor shards to pay for it?
    Why, OH WHY, doesn't someone have the courage to explain our GREAT ideas?"


  • dalloway on September 24, 2012 4:53 PM:

    As they say in the Mob -- the fish rots from the head. If Ryan has a stink, it's the stink of Rmoney.

  • Josef K on September 24, 2012 5:10 PM:

    I'd find this far more reassuring if Romney's defeat were assured.

    Instead I fear we're going to see R/R squeak out a win. What that means for the country is...something I don't like to think about.

  • T2 on September 24, 2012 5:34 PM:

    Ryan's problem isn't that Mitt is muzzling him. His problem is that he's a bullshitter and a liar and once everyone found that out, they quit liking him.

  • NCSteve on September 24, 2012 5:41 PM:

    Conservatives: "When he picked Ryan, we thought we were finally going to have a grand debate about our pro-oligarchy, pro-starvation, pro-pollution agenda, but that damn cowardly Romney still flinches away and now he's got our hero Ryan doing it too. It's just completely inexplicable. If only they would explain the hard truth about the imperative necessity for for shifting more wealth into the hands of the wealthy, getting government out of the way of our financial sector and our getting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to the American people, victory would surely be ours!"

  • Joe on September 24, 2012 10:16 PM:

    Umm, I wrote about Paul Ryan as Eddie Haskell a few weeks ago...you reading my stuff? http://www.joesherrier.blogspot.com/2012/08/eddie-haskell-for-veep.html

  • murphro2 on September 24, 2012 11:34 PM:

    This is just typical right wing whining about how, when they tell people what they actually want to do, voters reject it. Now that Mitt's said exactly what they all believe (about those lazy no good 47%) and stood up for it, they are all like: Mitt's not a true conservative! They all loved Ryan because he was great at obfuscating, at saying one thing and meaning another (and this was before he met Mitt!). But now that he's on the national scene where there is more than one smart person in the room and he no longer gets a free ride. If Romney loses this election they will all run to Ryan's defense, oh it wasn't YOUR fault. But at the same time they will also lock his budget in a drawer and say, tut tut, we are talking about other things now. Go back to your committee and try not to upset the old folks so much. That's a good boy! That Congressional office is going to seem mighty small after this joy ride.

    Republicans are losing precisely because of their ideas, no doubt about it. Now if they would only lose the House as well than maybe more good could get done.

  • on a blog on September 25, 2012 12:01 AM:

    Best line on the web:

    "I saw firsthand how much Congressman Paul Ryan cares about foreign policy.
    Seated next to him on a flight from DC to Milwaukee after I had been serving at a provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan, Ryan after learning I was a foreign service officer serving in a tough place (as a woman) did not show any interest in learning more about ground truth in Afghanistan or about what life was like for a foreign service officer.

    He can talk a big game now about protecting our embassies and consulates when the spotlight shines upon him and he reaches for the second highest position in the land, but when he had the chance to connect with a Wisconsin voter and gain a greater appreciation for the work of foreign service officers representing our country in difficult places, he showed his true colors. His interest at that time was nil. Which is the real Paul Ryan??"

  • cwolf on September 26, 2012 3:37 PM:

    Not Eddie Haskell, Gilligan !

    Name-calling begins as reported rift opens between ‘Stench’ Romney and ‘Gilligan’ Ryan

    Vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has apparently “gone rogue” and is now openly mocking his running mate, former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) in front of reporters and staff. Ryan has gone so far as to nickname Romney “The Stench,” and top brass at the Romney campaign have taken to referring to Ryan as “Gilligan.”

  • Yellowdog on September 27, 2012 7:49 PM:

    Ryan's shtick does not wear any better than Eddie Haskell's did. With enough time and exposure, people will probably find him insufferably smug and self-righteous. The voters in a relatively blue district in Wisconsin have foisted this guy on Congress for more than a decade. They have a chance to atone for the error in November when they can boot him out of the House. This guy is not ready to eat at the grown-up table.