The Onion: Let's face it, Paul Ryan scares the hell out of the left

One pro-Republican Onion piece is a curiosity, two is a bona fide mystery. What’s going on over there? Did they get a new conservative writer or are they making a play for more right-wing readers? Or are they just as tired of Hopenchange at this point as the rest of us?

Presenting a new op-ed from “Paul Ryan” addressed to Democrats. Profanity ahead:

I’m young, I’m handsome, I’m smart, and I’m articulate. And that scares the ever-loving shit out of you. You can pretend like you have this thing in the bag, but you know good goddamn well that this race just got real interesting, real fast…

I have another question for you: How scared are you that I can convince people I’m right? Because I’m good at it. No, I’m really good at it. You see, I know how to turn up the charm and charisma without putting people off. Then I back up what I’m saying with arguments that, when they come out of my mouth, sound completely accurate and well-reasoned. And I do it with such passion that people automatically recognize me as a man with deep convictions he will stand up for, no matter what…

Yup, you should be scared shitless of me, because guess who isn’t? The people of Wisconsin. They love me. Republicans and Democrats there love me. Hell, I get Democrats to vote for me even if my policies make zero sense when it comes to their livelihoods. Do you know why? Because they like me. They like my story. Young, good-looking kid who pulled himself up by his bootstraps to make something of himself. Christ, I’m a storybook candidate. I balance out this ticket so well it’s almost too perfect. The people of Ohio are going to think that. And seniors in Florida—the state we supposedly lost when Mitt picked me—won’t be so scared as soon they know that my mother lives in Florida, and that all I want to do is reform the health care system so she can receive care that makes good fiscal sense.

Boy, I’m going to sell the shit out of that talking point. And I’m going to do a great job of it. Why? Because I’m Paul Ryan. That’s what I do.

That’s what he does. Meanwhile, what his counterpart does is draw fewer than 700 people to a rally in a key swing state. Funny thing: Reading that Onion piece, I kept waiting for the line about how he’s a right-wing lunatic who would destroy the country if given the chance, but it never comes. The closest they get is that blink-and-you’ll-miss-it line about not being good for Democratic livelihoods. Romney may have picked the one Republican in America who even some (emphasis: some) reliable liberals can’t get too cynical about.

Although, in that case, how come so many of his advisors were allegedly such a drag about the pick?

Romney’s aides have stressed publicly in the 24 hours since Romney electrified conservatives with his choice that the pick was the governor’s alone. They have been less forthcoming on the flip side: That much of his staff opposed the choice for the same reason that many pundits considered it unlikely — that Ryan’s appealingly wonky public image and a personality Romney finds copasetic will matter far less than two different budget plans whose details the campaign now effectively owns…

Another Republican in conversation with the campaign — though not a member of the inner circle of Romney advisers — said the early skeptics tended to be the political professionals, including consultants Stuart Stevens and Russ Schriefer, and pollster Neil Newhouse, while Myers, foreign policy advisor Dan Senor, and ultimately Romney himself favored Ryan. (Those involved declined to shed light on the campaign’s most confidential conversations; and others, including Myers, disputed that characterization; she said Saturday she kept her opinion to herself.)

Not sure I buy any of it. For one thing, it seems completely out of character for Romney to go with his gut on a momentous decision if his political team, who steered him through the primaries, is begging him to stay cautious. Beyond that, Romney aides told Politico that they conducted not so much as a single poll or focus group on Ryan as VP before Romney picked him. Really? The guy who came up with the most serious entitlement reform package in decades, whom Democrats have been dying to demagogue as a granny-killer, warranted not even one poll in Florida before Team Mitt bet the campaign on him? Does that sound remotely like the Romney approach to politics to you? I think it’s more likely that the whole team was okay with picking Ryan, albeit some perhaps with misgivings, but they’re bending over backward to make it look like Romney’s decision alone because they’re enjoying the respect he’s getting from the base for being so bold. Let’s face it: Picking Ryan is the most, ahem, “severely conservative” thing Mitt’s ever done. Why shouldn’t he get all the credit?

Which doesn’t mean, of course, that Mitt’s going to embrace Ryan’s budget entirely. Ed Gillespie made clear yesterday that it’s still a Romney/Ryan ticket, not vice versa. Via Mediaite, here’s John Sununu making the same point to Matthews a bit more colorfully. Exit quotation: “I’m not dumb enough to pick the fact that the guy at the second place is going to call the shots.”