A savvy debut that’s getting lots of play online today, including at CNN (which continues to flirt with tea partiers after making a horrible first impression). His subject: Are tea-party senators prepared to deal, or will they insist on principled conservative stands that no Democrat will ever agree to? To compromise or not to compromise; that is the question. Watch how cleverly he pulls from his home state’s history to frame the answer. Yes, there can be compromise on the nuts and bolts of solving a national problem, but on the essential question of whether there’s a problem and whether we’re morally bound to solve it ASAP, there’s no room for deals.

And in case you’re not yet convinced there’s a problem, especially in how ill-informed the public is about the magnitude of our fiscal predicament and what’s causing it, compare column one of the following table taken from Larry Bartels’s piece yesterday at YouGov to columns two and three. Even when you frame the question explicitly in terms of the dire need to reduce the deficit, you still see support for holding spending steady or even increasing it — except, of course, for defense, the environment, and the arts. We could eliminate the Defense Department and we still wouldn’t get out of this hole, and yet the public continues to labor under the idea that if we cancel some Air Force jets and cut off NPR, we’ll be back on track. Paul and his allies have a long, long way to go.