Paul Krugman's take on Romney's choice of Paul Ryan is, I think, spot on. He thinks Romney is relying on the politerati to just hunker down in their false equivalence bunker and treat Ryan as some kind of Very Legitimate Serious Guy.
What Ryan is good at is exploiting the willful gullibility of the Beltway media, using a soft-focus style to play into their desire to have a conservative wonk they can say nice things about. And apparently the trick still works.
With that in mind, I give CNN's Soledad O'Brien some serious props for staying right on the truth and not letting Romney spokesperson Barbara Comstock do her best impression of Reince Preibus and most of the Republican Party. This nonsense lie that $700 billion has somehow been "stolen" from Medicare played in 2010 when no one really knew what the Affordable Care Act would do. Two years later, senior citizens aren't "losing" anything. They've actually saved lots of money just on the prescription benefit itself.
Of course, that didn't stop Comstock from trying. And when O'Brien wouldn't let her go there, she fell back on the old "death panel" routine, hoping that would somehow leave viewers all shivery and afraid. It's pretty pathetic. Here's the actual exchange:
O'BRIEN: The budget, as I put it out earlier, was passed. That $700 billion was -- what Republicans, virtually every Republican agreed to that twice, twice in 2011 and 2012. So to say that it's -- the money is being stolen I think is the word that you used, that has been debunked.
COMSTOCK: That has taken -- that's taken --
O'BRIEN: That's factually not true.
COMSTOCK: No, that is taken from current seniors and our plan --
O'BRIEN: It is not. It is not taken from current seniors. It is not affecting the benefits.
COMSTOCK: Well, you have to look --
O'BRIEN: I am telling you, it has been -- the CBO and others have done a breakdown of it. And as you know this, they're not cutting the benefits to the elderly. They are cutting the benefit in fact --
COMSTOCK: We aren't, we aren't -- what about the 15-member board that can decide what procedure, whether my dad can get, you know, ablation again because he's 77.
O'BRIEN: Let's go --
COMSTOCK: And if this 15-member board decides that you can't get a treatment, that's how they plan on controlling the spending, is by having a 15-person on elected board decide what kind of treatment seniors can get.
O'BRIEN: So you're conceding --
COMSTOCK: We don't have 15-person board.
O'BRIEN: You're conceding that the $715 billion is not stolen.
COMSTOCK: No, that's -- they're -- whether cutting the $700 billion by having this 15-person --
The value of this exchange is less in the facts and more an exposé of Republican strategy. As soon as Comstock was confronted with the fact that Republicans have not only agreed to the same cuts, but also that Rock Star Ryan blessed them, suddenly she had to fall back on the old, tired 'death panel' canard, long debunked.
This was a rare "CNN forces the truth" moment, thanks to Soledad O'Brien. I'll bet they won't promote it on their home page, but she deserves recognition for actually acting like a journalist.
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