August 20, 2012

Ryan and Medicare: Willard at the Drawing Board

Romney Whiteboard 1

Given the on-boarding of Ryan and the ramifications of his complex budget plan for the GOP ticket, these photos that circulated widely last week are some of the most interesting (and ambiguous) of the campaign so far.

Most of the debate surrounding the photo-op understandably has had to do with the nuts-and-bolts, specifically the inaccuracies in comparing Ryanomics to Obama’s healthcare law as it relates to the cost and viability of Medicare. Of course, the whole argument about Obama’s so-called “$716 billion raid on Medicare” is a red herring, designed to mislead voters and possibly also distract attention away from the Ryan plan. Sunday’s NYT editorial succinctly clarified the discrepancies.

I believe there are problems with the optics here on a more basic level, though. Specifically, I’m skeptical Team Romney can turn the campaign into a budget debate and, at the same time, fast-forward to particular comparisons without taking more time to translate the Veep-hopeful’s complex plan into a positive, dedicated and simple set of a,b,c’s for the American people.

Romney Whiteboard 3

If you step back and look at it, aren’t the photos saying that the addition of Ryan has put Romney in a situation where, as opposed to focusing on Obama, he’s now got a whole lot of explaining (and number crunching) to do, his most obvious task being to frame Ryan’s plan before Obama does it for him?

(It might be that my head is still in Yosemite, but it also seems a little odd to see Romney working this accoutrement of the boardroom outdoors against a naturalistic backdrop with no obvious visual context. Willard, ever like the odd kid on the playground, the scene to me is also a bit of a “plastic pocket pen protector moment.”)

When you look at these images “with the sound off,” it seems the real meta has the candidate trying to pencil out the Ryan budget — perhaps as much for himself as anyone else. And then, with these challenges in mind, the prop as pronounced as it is and the campaign inadequate when it comes to optics, might Romney also be flying in the face of the most obvious phrase that comes to mind about the object at hand: back to the drawing board?

Romney Whiteboard 2

(photos: Evan Vucci/AP caption: In this Aug. 16, 2012 file photo, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney points to a white board as he talks about Medicare during a news conference at Spartanburg International Airport in Greer, S.C. Democrats are eagerly renewing their fight against privatizing Social Security now that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has picked Paul Ryan as his running mate. It was a fight that didn t go well for the GOP back when former President George W. Bush pushed the idea in 2005.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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