Tampa—Ever since Mitt Romney selected radical right-wing extremist Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his running mate, Republicans have been patting themselves on the back for telling hard truths to the American people.
Ryan has cultivated a false image of being politically brave and intellectually honest, because he has presented a budget that would (eventually) be balanced. But how would it do so? Not by demanding sacrifices from the Republican Party’s current base of older middle-class white people. Rather, it would snatch the safety net out from under young and middle-aged people when they reach retirement age, while cutting taxes for the wealthy. Ryan even indulges the fantasy that we can be fiscally responsible while militarily outspending all our potential adversaries combined by orders of magnitude. This is not political bravery, it is cowardice. Republicans are telling their voters that they can solve the country’s fiscal problems without sacrificing anything. All the suffering will be borne by the young and the poor.
But Republicans insist that their generational and class warfare is actually a bold effort to level with the American people and to tackle hard problems that President Obama avoids confronting.
Choosing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as the Republican National Convention keynote speaker was perfectly in keeping with that campaign theme. Christie is a belligerent man. He delights in bullying citizens who have the temerity to argue with him in public. This is what passes on the right for forthrightness.
Christie’s speech on Tuesday night was meant to demonstrate the stakes in the election, but in a more positive statesman-like frame than the churlish hatred of Obama and liberals that one typically sees from movement conservative figures. Christie was there to tell us what the GOP is all about. So he started by touting his own record of attacking public employees in New Jersey, and segued into how this willingness to slaughter sacred cows defines his party. In the most crucial section of the speech, Christie implied that the Romney/Ryan plan to gut entitlement spending is a manifestation of that admirable quality:
Here’s what we believe as Republicans and what they believe as Democrats.
We believe in telling hard-working families the truth about our country’s fiscal realities. Telling them what they already know—the math of federal spending doesn’t add up.
With $5 trillion in debt added over the last four years, we have no other option but to make the hard choices, cut federal spending and fundamentally reduce the size of government.