David Brooks, Serious New York Times TypistWhat is Paul Ryan’s biggest mistake, you might be wondering — and yes, we know! It’s hard to pick just one! But if, for some reason, we were going to try, would we pick Ryan’s sponsorship of a personhood amendment? Or maybe the Ryan Plan, which would turn Medicare into a voucher program? Or oh — what about saying that voting for the Iraq War gave him “more foreign policy experience than Obama”? No, stupid, it was none of those things, it was refusing to vote for the Simpsons-Bowles Proposal, as David Brooks explains to us in a column called “Ryan’s Biggest Mistake.”

A few years ago, President Obama established a debt commission that was led by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles and had a group of eminences, including Representative Paul Ryan.

Yes. “Eminences” like Tom Coburn (R-Tenth Amendment) who wants to eliminate the Department of Education because it’s unconstitutional, or Mike Crapo (R-Koch Brothers) who has an entire page of his Senate website devoted to arguing (among other things) that solar flares and volcanoes have contributed to climate change. So yeah, sounds like a bunch of real geniuses.

When that commission came up with its proposal, some conservative Republicans, like Tom Coburn and Judd Gregg, voted yes, but Ryan voted no. This was a devastating blow. If Ryan and the other House Republicans had voted for the Simpson-Bowles proposal, it would have gone to Congress for up-or-down votes, regardless of how President Obama reacted. We would have had national action on debt reduction.

Sorry to interrupt again, but let us please note how Brooks refers to “some conservative Republicans” as if Ryan isn’t one of them. Let us also note how easy it is to prioritize a “national action on debt reduction” over, say, “national action on unemployment” or “national action on student loan debt” when you are a rich white guy who somehow managed to get a four million dollar house in exchange for typing columns and appearing on PBS once in awhile.

Ryan voted no for intellectually coherent reasons. He argued that the single biggest contributing factor to public debt is the unsustainable growth of Medicare. Yet the Simpson-Bowles plan did nothing to restructure Medicare, and it sidestepped health care issues generally. Ryan said that it was silly to come up with a debt-reduction proposal that didn’t fix the single biggest driver of the nation’s debt.

Did you ever think that you’d see the word “Ryan” in the same sentence as the term “intellectually coherent reasons”? Actually, we did, because we read David Brooks a lot. So the joke is kind of on us.

This is the sort of argument that makes a lot of sense in a think-tank auditorium. The problem was there were almost no Democrats who endorsed Ryan’s Medicare reform ideas. If Ryan was going to pinion debt reduction to Medicare reform, that meant there would be no debt reduction.

But Ryan had another way forward, noting: We’re going to have an election in 2012; the country will choose between two different visions; if we Republicans win, we’ll be able to reform Medicare our way and reduce the debt our way.

In other words, Ryan was willing to sacrifice the good for the sake of the ultimate.


Paul Ryan has a great campaign consciousness, and, when it comes to things like Medicare reform, I agree with him. But when he voted no on the Simpson-Bowles plan he missed the chance to show that he also has a governing consciousness. He missed the chance to do something good for the country, even if it wasn’t the best he or I would wish for.

Ah yes, something good for the country. For those of you unfamiliar with the Simpon-Bowles recommendations, they include reducing cost-of-living increases for current Olds, reducing Social Security payments to future Olds, raising the retirement age to 69, laying off more government workers, and charging more for participation in VA programs. See, it’s very important that we screw Poors, Olds, and Our Nation’s Heroes in order to bring down the deficit, which is suddenly a very pressing concern now that a Democrat is in the White House. So Ryan’s biggest mistake, apparently, is not voting for all of these things, because his refusal to vote on these things was premised on the idea that the GOP would eventually be able to destroy these programs anyway once they won in 2012. Here we were, thinking his biggest mistake was threatening to destroy Medicare in the first place, but we don’t have four million dollar houses, so what do we know.

[New York Times]

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  • LibertyLover

    Apparently, Brooks just doesn't know how to quit Ryan.

    • Come here a minute

      And Ryan wants to fuck the Poors, Olds, and Veterans up the ass. (But not in the good way.)

      • dmnolan

        In a legitimate way?

        • SavageDrummer

          Well, if you're raped in the bum you're very unlikely to get pregnant, perhaps that's the only "legitimate rape" there is then…

          • dmnolan

            What about the Butt-Babies?

    • Dudleydidwrong

      Brooks and Ryan obviously had a relationship. Ryan decided to flirt with other, um, ideas/people and left poor, poor David standing at the altar of conservative sacrifices (up to this point, unused). Now David is pining and whining and wants Paul back in his bed. "Come back to me, Paul…all is forgiven…"

      I hate these public romances and feuds! But if they get all kissy, kissy, then it is OK.

  • orygoon

    I like the way they get a camera angle on the Friday PBS News Hour that catches Brooks' getting-pretty-big bald spot.

    And lately, that is all that I like about anything Brooks.

    • Misty Malarky

      To be fair, constant rigorous tea bagging is hell on thinning mouse-brown hair.

  • Sorry, Ryan still sounds like a psuedo-intellectual college freshman coed with his Ayn Rand rants and Brooks knows this.

    • you got that right. david brooks makes paul ryan look like an intellectual lightweight.

      i really hope biden massacres him.

      with his words of course.

      • SavageDrummer

        A slightly-smarter-than-average sewer rat makes Paul Ryan look like an intellectual lightweight…

      • Wadisay

        Ryan will quote Sylvia Plath.

      • Negropolis

        And once Biden massacres him with words (of course), we can finish him off…with votes (mais oui).

  • Arborista

    If- as Brooks suggests- Ryan has the self-control necessary for delayed gratification, I am pretty sure he is not a true American politician, but is an enemy agent.

  • Fare la Volpe

    David, sweetie, everyone loves a bad boy. Nothing gets your blood pumping harder than when he threatens to take away your lifetime retirement benefits and reduce you to scrounging on the streets for healthcare. It's dangerous and sexy, I know, but he'll never love you back. LET HIM GO, BABY.

    • Negropolis

      It's so obvious that Ryan pushes Brooks right over his fiscal cliff. The sexual angst in his prose is almost palpable, "almost" being the operable and relieving word.

  • rocktonsam

    one of the most intelligent thing he has said was, wait who are we talking about

  • LibertyLover

    OT- and damn! Neil Armstrong has passed away.

    • C_R_Trogloraptor


    • Tundra Grifter


      I highly recommend the wonderful documentary "In the Shadow of the Moon." Neil Armstrong is a remarkable presence in that film considering he wasn't willing to be interviewed.

      Apparently he became an almost complete recluse after his experienced walking on the Moon.

      I highly recommend watching this one – particularly since we've now lost Mr. Armstrong.

    • The_Lucky_Wife

      Sorry, didn't see your comment before posting mine.

    • tejanojim

      Tough week for Armstrongs.

  • RadioBowels

    David Brooks would certainly know all about a smug know-it-all making mistakes.

  • el_donaldo

    At what point will it dawn on Brooks that his entire life has been a waste? That if your only constituency are timid and ineffectual "moderate" Democrats because the conservatives he claims to represent will have nothing to do with you, then you have affected absolutely nothing, persuaded nobody other than the people booking TV shows (and the NYTimes) who feel they need to include a conservative who won't froth at the mouth and bite the host in order to demonstrate a supposedly serious and valuable bipartisanship. That he has been the father of nothing. The spinner of dust.

    • He owns a $4mil house that someone else cleans for him. He gets regular sex. He eats regularly and well. He can afford nice clothes.

      Yeah, he's a worthless PoS, but there's a lotta people who would like to have what he has.

      • tessiee

        "He gets regular sex."

        *puts hands on hips*
        *tilts head*
        Oh, he *does NOT*!

        • C_R_Trogloraptor

          "Oh, he *does NOT*! "

          To be fair, it was not specified whether anyone else is involved.

        • No. I really really do NOT want to know how you might know this.

          OH, all right, yes. Go ahead. Tell.

        • SavageDrummer

          You're implying that he prefers the irregular kind?

          • Lookit that punim. You just *know* there's whole *rooms* in that house that the housekeeper has *never* been allowed in.

      • lessbs1

        Do you dream about living in the middle ages where you knew that it was gods' will that you were a serf?

      • el_donaldo

        I gotta believe that there's karma in there somewhere. Somewhere.

        • I'm waiting for a headline like "Police summoned to Brooks premises, find noted NYTimes columnist locked in deadly coitus with Burmese python, two Florida alligators, and a moose."

          THAT would be some wildly fitting karma.

      • Negropolis

        I can tell you right now, I'd not trade my life with, say, a Kennedy for anything in the world, regardless of how much money they have. Well, maybe except Teddy in his later years, but that's still a maybe.

  • viennawoods13

    Yesterday on All Things Considered, he actually agreed with EJ Dionne that he hopes that the convention lets the country find out who the REAL Mitt Rmoney is.

    • Butch_Wagstaff

      I heard that and thought: "Damn, I guess Brooks' started his weekend early."

  • Actually, I'm pretty sure Ryan voted against Simpson-Bowles at least in part because the plan called for raising revenues (OMG TAX INCREASES ABORT PLAN ABORT ABORT). But whatever, David Brooks, you fucking tool.

  • kittensdontlie

    Brooks is desperate. That four million dollar house is not going to pay for itself, but diverting money from social services to tax cuts for the rich, "That will do nicely, thank you."

  • Paul Ryan's biggest mistake is still thinking he can add and subtract. Fuck Republican math.

  • I can't quit you, babe, but I'm gonna go down on this rent boy for a while…

  • Ryan may want to kill old people and he certainly hates our troops, but he can tell the difference between some bathtub rubber duck Admiral and a General – even blindfolded!

  • BarackMyWorld

    "We’re going to have an election in 2012; the country will choose between two different visions; if we Republicans win, we’ll be able to reform Medicare our way and reduce the debt our way."

    Really? Because losing really doesn't seem to ever keep the Republicans from trying to claim a mandate from the people (i.e. "we lost because we weren't conservative enough" or "this isn't the change people voted for").

    • Biel_ze_Bubba

      "If we Republicans lose, we’ll make damn sure nobody reforms Medicare any other way and reduce the debt any other way."

  • The_Lucky_Wife

    OT: Neil Armstrong has died. Because of JFK's vision, in 1969, we put two men on the moon, and brought them safely home. Now, because of jerks like Ryan and Brooks, we can't afford to repair our infrastructure or provide the social safety net for ourselves when needed.

    • In keeping with the kinda guy he was Armstrong's family said:

      For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.

      Becca you better dash out soonly to wink, before the Nobama's hurricane Isaac washes the Rethugs into the sea.

    • Come here a minute

      Or send a man to Mars. That would be teh awesome.

  • Serolf_Divad

    Where's the part in Ryan's plan where a new constitutional amendment makes it illegal to vote if you're over 64? Because that's the only way you can drive a stake through the heart of Medicare the way Ryan and his buddies want.

    • tessiee

      Don't give them any ideas.
      In fact, you might want to delete your comment, because if they read it quickly, they may decide to drive a stake through the heart of anyone over 64.

    • Biel_ze_Bubba

      They'll grandfather in today's oldz, just to buy the fucking votes, and screw everyone else.

      • Serolf_Divad

        Yup, and when everyone who's 54 today turns 64 and faced with the prospect of buying insurance in the private market you're going to see lots of votes for extending the Medicare phase-out deadline. It's basically going to turn into the new Alternative Minimum Tax, where every year congress votes to put off privatizing Medicare, because not doing so would cost everyone their job.

  • C_R_Trogloraptor

    Dearest Paul:

    I can't quit you, Baby.

    Sincerely Yours, David

  • dmnolan

    Just think: A Ryan Nation.

    • That would be an Abomi Nation.

      I prefer A Ryan Brotherhood, myself.

      • dmnolan

        Then, that's what the Young Guns thing was all about? Eric must be seething.

  • Tundra Grifter

    How about the effort by Paul RAyn and Todd Akin to change the language in the Medicare abortion exception to "forcible rape?"

    • It's to keep the little girls who get raped by their fathers from having sinful, sinful abortions. (No violence, therefore Not Really Rape under A Ryan Definition.)

    • tessiee

      Chief Wiggum: How about this: just show me the knife … in your back. Not too deep, but it should be able to stand by itself.

  • dmnolan

    I suspect the only people who read Brooks' column with credulity are guys who still smoke pipes.

    • Do hookahs qualify as Dave Brooksian pipes??

    • MosesInvests

      Hobbit libel!

    • Negropolis

      Yeah, crack pipes.

  • DaSandman

    Was that Paulie's head on the spike in Game of Thrones? If not, why not?

  • Apocalypse Now: The Heart of Dumbness

    David Brooks plays the denial taking journo/apologist for Colonel Ryan.

    "Hey, man, you don't talk to Ryan. You listen to him. The man's enlarged my mind. He's a poet accountant in the worst sense. I mean sometimes he'll… uh… well, you'll say "hello" to him, right? And he'll just walk right by you. He won't even notice you. And suddenly he'll grab you, and he'll throw you in a corner, and he'll say, "Do you know that 'tax cuts" are the middle words in "Medicare? If you can stick to your policies when all about you are blaming it on them, if you can make up bullshit yourself when all men doubt you"… I mean I'm… no, I can't… I'm a sad little pathetic rat's turd not even a man, I'm a little shit, he's… he's a great man! I should have been a pile of whale shit rolling across floors of silent seas… "

    • The ambergris is strong Brooks. Poop, poop, ee, doo.

    • C_R_Trogloraptor

      A Crock of Shit Now: The Heart of Randness

  • OneYieldRegular

    I never like to waste a chance to bring up George W. Bush's brief tour of the country when he was waiving around four one-dollar bills at everyone and saying (taking one of the bills away) that we could afford a huge tax cut because, yuk yuk, we had a big surplus and see, you'd just be lopping off the top of the surplus and still have three whole dollars left. Little did I suspect that he meant that – with the exception of Mittens Romney and Co. – we'd each have exactly three whole dollars left after he was done wreaking havoc on the economy.

    • Native_of_SL_UT

      Silly us thinking this was a metaphor when it was actually the only math Bush got right in 8 years.

  • Native_of_SL_UT

    Dear David, Eminences doesn't mean what you think it means.
    Unless you think it means "asshole", in which case, carry on.

    • Angry_Marmot

      Eminence grease, éminence grise, quelle différence?

  • C_R_Trogloraptor

    Rick Scott's giving an Hurricane Isaac preparations press conference, carried live by TWC.
    I feel that I can read people pretty well and I think that this is a man who is very much out of his depth.

    • MinAgain

      And that's before the storm surge.

      • C_R_Trogloraptor

        He doesn't inspire confidence – at least to me. Perhaps it's the stumbling over words, or the "Bush-reading-My-Pet-Goat" glazed look in his eyes.

  • BoatOfVelociraptors

    That "Domestic affairs" book ad that asks "How much of this is fiction"? I'll tell you what's fiction. It shows a semi-respectable hill on Capitol Hill. THAT is total BS.

    Where I come from, you could launch hang gliders off of little mountain. If you could get a paper airplane down the steps I would be amazed.

  • Callyson

    In other words, Ryan was willing to sacrifice the good for the sake of the ultimate.

    Yeah, […] is pretty much my reaction whenever I hear Paul Ryan speak.

    Unless I have the energy to yell numerous obscenities, that is…

  • ttommyunger

    I googled "Nebbish" and a picture of David Brooks popped up, gap-toothed smile and all.

    • finallyhappy

      Nebbish would be kind for this guy!

      • ttommyunger

        Inept, insecure sold-out shill?Sent from my iPhone

  • i'm sure i'm not the first to think this but whenever i think of paul ryan – which i try not to do – i keep thinking of little lord fauntleroy.

    i'd love to put him in that foppish velvet suit.

    and then throw eggs at him.

    gah. now i have to go bleach my soul with shine a light or johnny depp or something.

  • BZ1

    Ryan: intellectually coherent, nope, don't see it.

  • DahBoner

    Shorter Brooks: Kill the Olds and Take their Money

  • Dudleydidwrong

    Paul Ryan is the 8th grade politician who knows that if he is elected president of the class he can change the lunch menu, get longer recesses, get the homework load reduced, and have the principal fired. David Brooks is the little ratty 8th grader who looks up to Ryan's foam-flecked lips and says "god, I wish I could be like him" and runs off to write something for the mimeographed school newspaper.

  • Negropolis

    My tired (yet beautiful) mind read "Simpson-Bowles" as "Simian-Bowels."

    I'm tired of this "restructure Medicare" bullshit. Medicare doesn't need major restructing. What needs restructing is how we pay for health care. There are few other sectors of the economy were price and payment are so out-of-whack and random from health care provider to health car provider. People in health care hate to here it, but there is too damned much money in the system, and it's not getting distributed anywhere near a fair level with certain doctors getting paid a killing while others aren't paid nearly their worth.

    There is no real reform without addressing what we pay providers. We spend too much on health care, and then to add insult to injury the results don't reflect the spending.

    Excuse my French but fuck "reforming/restructing" Medicare, which is just code for cutting services and/or benefits. It's long since past the time we cut out the middle man thus inserting some sanity into the system.

  • aboutheagora

    David Brooks is that worn out wrench in the Republican Tool Box, the one that will not quite grip that nut anymore unless you put way too much effort in to it. Then it slips and you smash your hand on reality. Good thing for him that Paul Ryan's nut is already loose.

  • finallyhappy

    Simpson-Bowles isn't something about roast beef and Camilla? You Americans!(ok, I'm American too)

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