There was a tone in Rush Limbaugh's voice that some have called "jubilant" but which seemed to me more apprehensive, even disbelieving, when he said that in picking Paul Ryan to be his running mate Mitt Romney had given right wing conservative true believers like him "somebody on the ticket who's us."
The right wing radio demagogue went on to explain that Ryan was somebody "who can explain all of this, who believes all of this in his heart, in his soul, and he can do it with optimism and a smile on his face."
The selection of the far right, Ayn Rand-idolizing Paul Ryan to be the GOP's vice presidential nominee, said Limbaugh, "signals a decision was made somewhere that we're going to go head-first, going to take it straight to them and we're going to win or we're going to lose [but we are going to] articulate exactly what we believe."
Which, of course, suggests that for years now right wing Republicans have been engaged in elaborate word games and deceptions, impressive acrobatic feats of Frank Luntz-inspired rhetorical legerdemain, in order to hide from the American people their true reactionary beliefs and agendas, just as many of us have accused them of doing in the past.
So now, the radical right has decided to run as the radical right and let the chips fall where they may?
I am still not buying. Old habits die hard and a whole language has come into existence to enable a radical right political movement to take over and reconfigure our democracy in a much more autocratic way while still pretending to be democracy's most committed protector. I don't see Republicans risking all of that on one roll of the dice.
I still believe there is no way the Ryan/Romney ticket can win next November if it is honest about its radical, survival-of-the-fittest vision for America.
So, expect lots of Fox Noise on the right calling President Obama a big fat liar who is wedded to an impractical left-wing ideology and who routinely rejects common sense solutions to America's most pressing problems. Projection -- accusing opponents of exactly those sins Republicans are themselves most guilty of -- has been the campaign tactic of choice ever since Karl Rove first began advising GOP candidates.
There are three basic ways to cover up for an unpopular agenda you don't want to come clean about: You can refuse to release details about it, as both Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney have done with their draconian tax cut and budget plans. You can lie about it outright. Or you can translate inconvenient truths into abstract philosophy as supporters of the laissez faire free market have been doing for years ever since supply-side economics turned out to be an empirical flop.
As E.J. Dionne writes in the Washington Post, by choosing Paul Ryan to be his running mate Mitt Romney guaranteed that the election will be about "big principles" but also that the Republican Party will be running on a platform of "abstract theory" rather than actual practice or demonstrable fact.
Forty years ago it was liberals who were "easily mocked as impractical ideologues," says Dionne. But now the tables have turned.
How does Paul Ryan justify Medicaid cuts at a time when the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation finds 14 million to 19 million poor people would be left without health coverage? Dionne asks. How can Ryan justify reducing the effective tax rate on Romney's "rather substantial income" to less than 1%. How can he say his budgets are anti-deficit measures when his tax cuts add trillions to the debt and postpone balanced budgets for 20 years or more?
As Dionne reports, for Paul Ryan such bothersome questions are beside the point. "Only by taking responsibility for oneself, to the greatest extent possible, can one ever be free," Ryan writes in the introduction of his Roadmap for America's Future. "And only a free person can make responsible choices - between right and wrong, saving and spending, giving or taking."
Dionne's Post colleague, Matt Miller, is even less sparing. He calls Ryan a "fraud" who enjoys an undeserved reputation as an intellectual, a fiscal conservative and someone intent on reducing deficits. None of those are true, says Miller.
Paul Ryan is not a "fiscal conservative," says Miller, since fiscal conservatives think we should pay for the government we want and Paul Ryan never has. Ryan's budget adds $60 trillion to the national debt in the coming decades, mostly through the the tax cuts he would give out to the rich.
At the same time Ryan is an extreme "small government conservative" who thinks government spending in an aging society can be kept to 20% of GDP when even Ronald Reagan in a much younger America ran government at 22% of GDP.
At those levels, Miller says "it's impossible to shrink the federal role in an aging society without eliminating vast swaths of what Americans have come to expect from government -- not to mention shortchanging already lagging investments in research and development and infrastructure. Over time, Ryan's 'vision' would decimate most federal activities beyond Social Security, Medicare and defense."
When Miller asked Ryan why he thought reducing government as a share of GDP was sound public policy given that we'd shortly be doubling the number of seniors on the biggest federal programs, Ryan replied: "Because we can't keep doing everything for everybody in this country."
Public policy is so much easier when there are no living, breathing human beings to worry about. But those sounds you hear are the airy abstractions of Paul Ryan channeling his philosophical hero, Ayn Rand, author of The Virtue of Selfishness.
Miller quotes Ryan as saying that on our current path the nation will "transform our social safety net into a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency."
Personally, I find it offensive to be lectured to about "able-bodied people" leading lives of "complacency and dependency" just four short years after the wealthiest in our society crashed our economy by cheating their clients, lying to the rest of us and then taking handouts from the taxpayers to escape responsibility for their own recklessness and greed. But Miller asks: why all this talk of hammocks and morality when the real issue is an aging population challenge and a health care cost challenge?
Neither is Ryan a truth-teller, says Miller. Ryan and Romney boast of "the courage to tell you the truth." But Miller says "political courage means telling your base things they don't want to hear." And one of those truths Ryan and Romney won't tell is that taxes need to rise as the boomers retire if there is any hope at all of reducing deficits as Romney and Ryan say we need to do.
Which brings us to the lying part of the Ryan/Romney plan.
Republicans like to portray Barack Obama as "the worst" or "the most radical" president in US history because faced with a Great Recession he irresponsibly turned away from common sense conservative solutions that might have returned our economy to prosperity by now in favor of left wing give-aways to reward key Democratic constituencies that are economically counter-productive.
And because the President stubbornly refused to reach out and grab these proven free market solutions, conservatives call him anti-freedom, anti-business and even anti-American.
Ezra Klein, resident policy wonk at the Washington Post, exposes why this is such a farce.
As Klein reports, Romney recently released a paper by four economists associated with the campaign - Glenn Hubbard, Greg Mankiw, John Taylor, and Kevin Hassett - that tried to lend some empirical heft to the otherwise intellectually hazy "Romney Program for Economic Recovery, Growth, and Jobs."
The paper makes three points, says Klein: Recovery has been slower than other post-financial crisis recoveries; the Obama administration made a grievous error by relying on stimulus; and Romney's tax and economic plans would usher in an era of rapid growth that would both be good for the country and provide the boost to revenues and employment necessary to make their numbers work out.
Klein contacted the economists used to support the Romney campaign's assertions. Except for the economists directly linked with the campaign all said Romney had seriously misinterpreted their work.
"The historical record is clear," write the Romney campaign's economists. "Our economy usually recovers quickly from recessions, and the more severe the recession, the faster the subsequent catch-up growth."
But as Klein reports, Michael Bordo of Rutgers University, whose work Romney cites, says "this recession is really quite different."
Neither did Bordo see government policy as the obvious cause, reports Klein. "We found that a lot of the difference between what would've been predicted by the normal behavior of recessions and what we observed now is explained by the collapse of residential investment. Put another way, if residential investment were what it was in a normal recovery, we would have recovered already."
The Romney campaign also claims that the "negative effect of the administration's 'stimulus' policies has been documented in a number of empirical studies." A survey of the literature shows 15 studies, all but two of which found the stimulus had a positive effect, says Klein.
Of the remaining two, one is by John Taylor, a Stanford economist who also advises Romney -- and who wrote the campaign's report in the first place. The other didn't even write about the stimulus program at all, but rather the much more limited $4 billion "Cash for Clunkers" program that aimed to jump start Detroit car sales.
"We weren't saying anything specific about broader stimulus programs," said one of the study's authors. In fact, he said, "most of the research is pretty positive on stimulus."
Klein runs through a similar list of economists whose work was misused and abused by the Romney campaign to support conclusions the authors of these reports do not themselves support.
"Even the studies that the Romney campaign's economists handpicked to bolster their case don't prove what the Romney campaign says they prove," says Klein. "And some of the key policy recommendations that flow from those studies are anathema to the Romney campaign."
As Time's Joe Klein recently put it: How stupid does Mitt Romney think we are? "Every day brings a mind-boggling act of untruth-telling. Last week, he told Sean Hannity that his economic plan 'is very similar to the Simpson-Bowles plan.' Except for the fact that Simpson-Bowles raised $2 trillion in revenue over the next 10 years and Romney's plan raises...well, he won't say, but so far he hasn't identified one red cent. I can't remember a candidate so brazenly allergic to facts. What a travesty.
There are lies, damned lies and statistics. And then, it turns out, there is Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney.