Saving Private Ryan
Republicans are quickly learning that not every one of their members is Paul Ryan. And that's becoming a problem as the party's rank-and-file tries to defend his far-reaching entitlement reform package to constituents back home.
And as many effective television appearances, PowerPoint presentations or online infomercials Ryan can offer to articulate his plan, the vast majority of voters simply aren't paying attention.
That's what happened to Republican Jane Corwin on Tuesday in New York's 26th District special election: she was ill-equipped to defend the controversial proposal.
"I probably would have addressed the Medicare message -- coming out at my opponents -- quicker," Corwin said on Monday, in a stroke of self-reproach.
But it wasn't just the timing of Corwin's response. It was the fact that she came out early on in support of Ryan's plan, but didn't even attempt to sell the voters on the details of the proposal. She later backed away from some of the specifics, and tried to turn the table on Democrat Kathy Hochul, accusing her of being the one trying to cut Medicare. That's not a way of inspiring confidence or winning support.
Contrary to some accounts of his town hall meetings, Ryan actually received a predominantly positive reception at his town halls back home -- in a district that's less Republican than the one Democrats picked up in New York. But while Ryan's natural policy chops allow him to be an effective messenger, a nuanced and convincing message may not come as easily for other Republicans.
Privately, Republican officials fretted that some members - not well-versed in fiscal policy - returned home to their town halls without a persuasive case for altering an entitlement that seniors have come to depend on.