I’ve had my doubts about GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s commitment to fiscal conservatism in the past, but his mettle is being tested and this is his moment.
Beltway Republicans are going wobbly in the wake of the GOP’s NY-26 loss — seen as a referendum on the Ryan Medicare overhaul plan.
William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection draws bottom-line lessons from the NY race:
There were so many quirks about this race that it’s hard to draw simple conclusions, but I think the following apply (in no particular order):
* A third party candidate can make a difference, and in this case Davis certainly drew more away from Corwin than Hochul.
* The Tea Party brand is powerful. A phony like Davis, who petitioned his way onto the ballot and then chose to call his ballot line the “Tea Party” line still managed to draw a significant vote.
* National Republicans need to get their act together. This is not a district which should have been ignored for so long. The challenge from Davis was noted by me and others in early April.
* The ability of Democrats to scare grandma should not be underestimated. Republicans need to be very proactive and very hard hitting is getting ahead of Democrats and explaining not only that no one currently receiving Medicare will be affected, but that the current system will result in severe rationing if changes are not made.
* We need candidates who are fighters and are seen as fighters. Corwin was a perfectly good candidate, but she ran a fairly mundane campaign.
* In the face of the Democratic scare grandma machine, nice guys and gals will finish last.
* Motivation matters. There was a poor turnout by Republicans, who didn’t care much.
* Republicans should stop ignoring conservative bloggers. Many conservative bloggers, including Sam Foster of Lonely Conservative and Jazz Shaw who blogs at the HotAir Green Room, were all over this race long before anyone else.
* The MSM will message for Democrats all day long. Already last night the NY Times rand a banner “Rubuke Seen To Medicare Plan.”
Needless to say the media will draw too many pro-Democrat conclusions from this race. But we need to learn from the mistakes, which need not have ended in a lost District.
For his part, Ryan is not running from the fundamental battle over entitlements and free-market reform. While Democrats shriek and moan about seniors rolling off cliffs, Ryan’s out with a sober, serious, adult conversation on the long-term structural changes needed to keep the system solvent:
Tea Party activists need to stand by Ryan and buck him up when the GOP establishment cuts and runs. Fiscal conservatism must not be beholden to electoral cycles. This is what real leadership looks like.
This is what utter, shameless hackery looks like, via Harry Reid’s official Twitter page: