First, he won the health care debate handily. President Obama had no answer to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’s charge that ObamaCare double-counted the $500 billion “savings” it had cut from Medicare to spend elsewhere. Later, even Obama’s own head of Health and Human Services had to admit that Ryan was right.
Then Ryan won the debate over the budget and the economy. His 2012 budget, which was the first in modern political history to tackle the fundamental causes of America’s long-term public debt, was so much better than Obama’s that the President asked for a “do-over.” Yesterday, he flubbed that chance.
In the foreign policy debate, Ryan has won by forfeit. (To be fair, almost anyone, aside from the tiny isolationist minority inside both parties, would defeat the President’s policy of appeasement and incoherence, which has drastically reduced American power and strengthened our enemies.)
What is even more remarkable about Rep. Ryan’s victories in these debates is that he has been able to bring the rest of the country along with him on some of the most controversial and consequential issues facing our Republic, arguing from conservative principles that the left had once dared the GOP to try.
When Paul Ryan joined me in Chicago last September–just seven months ago!–for my congressional fundraiser, only 13 Republicans in Congress had endorsed his fiscal Roadmap. The hard-left and their rent-a-crowd protestors picketed the event, even bursting into the hall at one point.
When he heard the shouting at the back of the room, Ryan smiled and winked. “That’s when you know you’re winning,” he told me quietly.
He has continued to win by focusing on the hard realities rather than the empty sentiments that are all Obama offers. Today, Ryan’s ideas are the yardstick by which other GOP politicians are measured.
The Democrats’ leaders have lost the vision of a market society with a safety net that was ascendant in the Clinton era–the framework that the far-left intellectual/activist vanguard derided as “neo-liberalism.” Today all they offer is the empty protest that they are protecting the poor and the vulnerable–even while condemning them to long-term misery.
Now Democrats are trying to win by demonizing Paul Ryan, a last resort to the tactics of Saul Alinsky. But Ryan is rising above it all, perhaps by adapting a passage from Alinsky’s playbook: judge them by their own rules. After all, President Obama cut Medicare first, to fund his disastrous health bill!
I don’t know whether Paul Ryan ever wants to run for president. He is so good at his present job atop the House budget committee that the country might want him to stay in it. Yet as Republicans continue to search for a candidate who can actually beat Obama, we already have an answer: Paul Ryan just did.