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Posted at 04:41 PM ET, 10/10/2012

The bizarre case of the Romney/Ryan position on Simpson-Bowles

Getting ready for the Paul Ryan-Joe Biden debate tomorrow reminds me of one of the strangest Republican ideas of this campaign season: Democrats should support Simpson-Bowles and in fact did something terrible by opposing it…while Republicans, however, oppose Simpson-Bowles.

This sometimes is presented dishonestly, as when Ryan pretended that he was just a bystander to Barack Obama’s supposed scuttling of Simpson-Bowles, when in fact it was Paul Ryan, a member of that commission, who was the person primarily responsible for the failure of the commission to vote out anything. But sometimes it’s just a straightforward claim of what the Democrats should be supporting:

LEHRER: Governor, what about Simpson-Bowles? Do you support Simpson-Bowles?
ROMNEY: Simpson-Bowles, the president should have grabbed that.
LEHRER: No, I mean, do you support Simpson-Bowles?
ROMNEY: I have my own plan. It’s not the same as Simpson-Bowles. But in my view, the president should have grabbed it. If you wanted to make some adjustments to it, take it, go to Congress, fight for it.

Doesn’t anyone else find this completely bizarre?

I’ve heard cases in which a candidate claims that their opponent’s position logically implies something which voters wouldn’t like; for example, a pro-choice candidate might claim his pro-life opponent must logically be for locking up women and their doctors if she really thinks that abortion is murder. It’s of course not unusual at all for a candidate to allege that her opponent’s stated position hides some “true” position. And then there’s the most normal version: Yhe opposition should support our position because it’s better.

But this one is just goofy. “We’re against Simpson-Bowles, but you should be for it. Just because.” I really can’t think of another similar example.

I’ve been trying to figure out the logic to this one for a while. The best I have is that it’s Republicans think so little of centrist budget-balancers (who absolutely love Simpson-Bowles) that they believe those centrist budget-balancers can be duped into turning against Barack Obama even though Republicans are supporting a tax plan which will almost certainly blow up the deficit, just because Republicans are willing to say nice things about Simpson-Bowles. Even though they oppose it.

But whatever the reason, I think it’s a very strange bit of rhetoric, and I’ll be listening tomorrow night to see whether Ryan uses it one more time — and what Joe Biden has as a response.

By  |  04:41 PM ET, 10/10/2012

 
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