Thomas Edsall has a splendid overview of the far right's centripetal navel-gazing, which has of late bolted from a sinking despair to a dizzying, blues-begone mania.
Thank you, Mr. Ryan.
Here, for example, is a pre-Ryan, National Review suicide note:
Romney’s insipid message does not rise to the challenge this nation faces. Maybe the milquetoast pantywaist candy-assed soft-focus "Believe in America" shtick will prove sufficient under a relentless barrage of nakedly thuggish attack ads designed to Barry Goldwater the guy. But John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary, thinks not: 'This is a race he should be able to win,' he wrote, 'so if he loses, it won’t be because Obama won it. It will be because he lost it.' "
But now, a triumphant Weekly Standard declares:
Mitt Romney, the cautious candidate, wary of being specific, and counting on the bad economy to defeat President Obama – forget all that! The Romney who picked Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate is an entirely different person. He’s prepared to take the fight to Obama on the biggest bundle of issues – spending, debt, the deficit, taxes, entitlements, and the reversing of America’s accelerating decline under Obama. Specifics? There will be plenty.
Thus the Romney-Ryan ticket is less a national campaign than a fascinating case study in group psychosis. It's also a bookend, or the other shoe.
The National Review referenced Barry Goldwater--the '64 Ryan model which Bill Buckley & Friends were editorially just wild about. Goldwater conducted a campaign in close accord with Buckley's preexisting command to stand athwart history and yell "Stop!" A still-grieving yet optimistic electorate handed Goldwater his head. Yet he had managed (in part reluctantly) to unleash the snarling hounds of hypersimplistic libertarianism, liberalism-as-domestic-communism, hateful fundamentalism, medieval Catholicism, cultural militarism and pretty much every other variety of right-wing ideological charlatanism imaginable.
Presto, in a predominantly white, blue-collar, low-informational nation of Southernized sentiments we were cursed with infectious New Rightism, Reaganism, Gingrichism and W.-ism and now Ryanism.
But that party is over. They don't know it--"[Romney-Ryan is] prepared to take the fight to Obama on the biggest bundle of issues"! yelps a vertiginous Fred Barnes--but it is. Why? Because unlike the late '70s, we've now more than three decades of right-winging, supply-siding decay to view backward: the right's promises were a catastrophic bust. What's more, we're looking backward from a rising pool of off-white demographics, which the nativist right, incomprehensibly, has made no attempt to woo.
In sum, we're watching the last pathetic gasps of a radically mutated, progressively deformed Goldwaterism. And on the night of November 6th, we'll hear not so much a Romney concession speech as a plunk. There will remain abundant streams of resistance, of course, running down the Appalachians and seeping throughout the South. And the happy delusionists will doubtless keep paddling till 2016. But it's over. For them it's over. It's effectively all over--the end of an era of ravaging psychosis.