In the aftermath of the Republican National Convention, I'm seeing one of those stupid things the media prints without thinking, so that in time it becomes part of the accepted narrative -- that Republicans are proposing to make the "tough choices" that need to be made to restore fiscal sanity to Washington.
There are a few of problems with this notion. For one thing, it has been pointed out by many that reducing the debt is not what the country needs right now. Also, Romney/Ryan's prescription for reducing the debt goes something like this: lower taxes, increase defense spending, rob from the poor, sprinkle a little trickle-down fairy dust, and presto! Actually, they are going to need a dump truck full of fairy dust, but that's basically how it works. Those are the kinds of tough choices that Bush II used to run up record deficits.
But what bugs me about the media narrative is the "tough choices" phrase. The tough choices Republicans are offering up amount to "You have to give us everything we want, or else!" Their choices will be tough for many Americans, but for Republican politicians, it's everything they could ask for. There is nothing "tough" about giving tax breaks to their wealthiest benefactors, who will turn around and reward them generously. It isn't difficult for them to take money away from Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, or to spend more and more on the military. Those aren't hard things for a Republican politician to support. It's their Christmas list.
What would actually be a tough choice would be to stand up to Grover Norquist, admit the Bush tax cuts didn't exactly work out, and vote to raise taxes. What would be tough, for Republicans, would be to work with Democrats, give some consideration to constituents who disagree with them, compromise, give up some of their wish list in order to govern, or put military spending on the table. That would require a little toughness. I don't see any Republicans these days making those kinds of choices, the actual tough ones. That would take actual courage. That would require leadership.
There is nothing challenging about sticking rigidly to ideology and insisting that you either get everything you want or you will hold the country hostage, or hold your breath until you turn blue. Any four-year-old can make that sort of tough choice. Someone should call them on that.