No, Ryan isn't badmouthing Romney behind his back

Via Ace. The bad news? A swath of left-wing media, including Lawrence O’Donnell, bit hard on a lame “satire” at Politico. The worse news? This isn’t the dumbest Romney-related non-story that they’ve fallen for this week, which makes me wonder how far we should go in blaming the “satirist” for this rather than his audience. If the left really is so eager to demonize Romney that they were able to convince themselves, in all seriousness, that a 65-year-old frequent flier who graduated from Harvard Law doesn’t know that you can’t open the windows of a plane at 35,000 feet, then they’re beyond understanding satire. At least until November 7th.

The “satire” from Politico columnist Roger Simon:

Paul Ryan has gone rogue. He is unleashed, unchained, off the hook.

“I hate to say this, but if Ryan wants to run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him,” Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Republican Party of Iowa, told The New York Times on Sunday…

Though Ryan had already decided to distance himself from the floundering Romney campaign, he now feels totally uninhibited. Reportedly, he has been marching around his campaign bus, saying things like, “If Stench calls, take a message” and “Tell Stench I’m having finger sandwiches with Peggy Noonan and will text him later.”

If you’re going to take that at face value, the obvious reading is that Ryan’s joking. It’s not crazy to imagine him mocking the “stench” quote in the NYT story by referring to Romney that way tongue-in-cheek. It is a little crazy, notwithstanding Simon’s best attempts in the rest of the piece to suggest that Ryan’s gone rogue, to think of him openly referring to his running mate as “Stench” with sincere derision six weeks out from election day. He’s too disciplined a pol for that even if he did secretly feel that way, and there’s no evidence to think that he does. But in case there was any lingering doubt, the author dispelled it earlier today:

Simon told BuzzFeed: “Some people always don’t get something, but I figured describing PowerPoint as having been invented to euthanize cattle [elsewhere in the column] would make the satire clear. I guess people hate PowerPoint more than I thought.”

Follow that last link for a reaction round-up of the left’s greatest, most credulous hits. The only reason to take the column at face value was because Simon’s typically straightforward in his political writing, not given to flights of whimsy that coincidentally happen to involve the Republican VP nominee dumping on the top of the ticket a few weeks before a presidential election. On the other hand, this is the same guy who once wondered whether polls are actually a form of shamanism because they use smaller samples to guesstimate how larger samples will behave. Admittedly, that’s not an unpopular theory at the moment, but I’m pretty sure it’s … not correct.

Here’s clear-eyed newsman Lawrence O’Donnell going hook, line, and sinker to open last night’s show on a story that was way too good for him to check.

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David Strom 5:21 PM on March 31, 2023