Their generational difference is slight, but the disparity in intellectual maturity is immense.
Here's a pastiche of Michael Gerson of the Bush-Cheney era, in which magical thinking became the Republican Party's guiding methodology:
The Republican ticket will go large ... Romney’s admirable, unexpected goal ... the emergence of a leader ... [Ryan] combines a sober realism about a teetering, unsustainable entitlement system with a bubbly, Jack Kemp-like belief in the promise of unleashed enterprise ... the bold, controversial Romney.
And here, also from this morning, is David Stockman of the early Reagan administration era, in which empirical thinking was still permitted at least a small foothold on the GOP's slippery slope:
Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have no plan to take on Wall Street, the Fed, the military-industrial complex, social insurance or the nation’s fiscal calamity and no plan to revive capitalist prosperity — just empty sermons.
Stockman is gun-shy, and it's hard to fault him. He experienced firsthand his party's embryonic descent into fiscal madness and he emerged from that mortifying encounter incubating irrational fears of all deficits and essentially all modern economic management. He is the ideological equivalent of the old Trotskyites turned communist witch-hunters.
But he's not nearly unhinged as Gerson, who's been marinating in political fantasy so long he reeks of it. To Gerson, fantasy is normal, fantasy is even real, because fantasy is all he's really known.
So we've the older, repentant bulls, begging forgiveness and seeking redemption; and we've the playful pups, flopping and bouncing around carefree, cracking their heads on hard inconsistencies without bother or even notice.