With his boy toy model good looks and Wisconsin accent, Paul Ryan comes off as earnest as a Lake Wobbegone boy scout. Although I had seen him before, his role and impact on the 2012 election came into sharp focus for me as I watched the video of Ryan on FTN. here
Schieffer, IMHO, was uncommonly aggressive in posting up President Obama's 'off mic' criticism of Ryan as well as bird dogging him about the debt ceiling. Ryan danced beautifully, dissembling, filibusting, spouting half truths. What was scary as I watched it, was the thought that 90% of the public wouldn't know he is lying. Not just because the public is disinterested in the facts or that they are too convoluted to spend one's time teasing out. More importantly, Ryan is a cypher for trustworthiness! So no matter his twisted logic, cherry picked factoids, and outright lies, Middle America will believe him. They will believe him because they know him, they understand where he comes from. He is someone in looks, demeanor, and speech that they have trusted before.
And he is the perfect counterpoint to the aloof, cerebral, brown, unfamiliar president.
That is when it came to me what 2012 was really going to be and what the GOP is trying to sell.
The 2012 election is going to be about tribalism pure and simple. And by tribalism, I mean the GOP is going to be selling white man/ woman: they will play into every dog whistle they can pull without using the n word. The sad fact is the wealthy white oligarchy is going to sell the struggling middle and lower class America that they too can become just like them--rich--as long as we get rid of the 'entitlements' for those undeserving, lazy (brown, black) people.
Sadly, this is a strategy as old as the Republic itself. Reagan, Bush, Nixon, Goldwater were all selling the same firewater. The GOP can't help itself: this strategy has worked for them too many times. They are going to be selling familiarity and comfort to an electorate that is wary of the demographic changes in America, as well as the loss of the American Dream. Whereas liberals wanted America back in terms of civil rights, Tea Partiers and their corporate master want America back to the 1950's (without the taxes) where everyone knew his/her place and America was a colossus striding the Earth.
Why do you think Trump is garnering such cache: he is emphasizing Obama "foreignness" while selling America on his own mythology as a down to earth, 'self made', billionaire. He is a hero to many who buy into his tough talk and decisiveness. They also believe that they too can become rich like Trump.
And don't write off Palin. She has shown herself adept at inserting herself into the issues in the least helpful or analytic way. But she still is able to portray herself as a victimized woman with legions of women who have been actually put down and put upon ready to fight her fight.
Serious mainstream politicians like Romney and Pawlenty (but don't sell him short) are being pushed out by the freak show that is gearing up to be the 2012 GOP primary season. Even Huckabee has been drawn into the fringes of this clown circus just to get a smattering of media love.
To win 2012, liberals, progressives and Democrats will need to leave their comfortable cottages of being knowledgeable and right on the facts. 2012 will not be about the facts--at least no one will be working from the same facts. We have to get away from being smug about our superiority on the facts and learn how to talk to the voter, the fellow citizen who is struggling to hold on--yes, clinging--to the hope of better times. They want the world set aright--they don't want the unfamiliar and they want predictability. Despite 21/2 years in the White House, many Americans do not know where to place Obama in their gestalt. And with the hard and difficult times of his Administration, most Americans are uncertain how good of a job he has done. Hence, the retreat to the familiar. It is in these times, that it is easiest to magnify the 'other' as the enemy. Unfortunately, the 'other' is being presented by skin color, not wealth, greed, and cynicism.
Just like 2008, WE will need to do a lot more listening and then talking to our neighbors.