One of the things I enjoy about social networking is that I rarely have to seek out news items of interest anymore. A quick scroll through the ol' Facebox gives me a selection of political reading material ranging from the mundane to the fascinating. My policy of not "friending" morons, high school classmates, or moron high school classmates pays off. A former student who is now several years into a successful career in journalism shared a rather dull news item about the House Republican budget proposal accompanied by a stock photo we've all seen before:


Then I looked a little more closely and realized that the photo was not the same "Paul Ryan holding binder next to podium" shot to which we were treated in 2011 (during the debt ceiling BS) and most of 2012. This is a new Ryan-Binder shot. Like, a recent one. And he's no longer holding the Roadmap to Prosperity; that's the Path to Prosperity, thankyouverymuch. They're quite different. Unlike the Roadmap, the innovative Pathway proposes

I left that sentence unfinished on purpose. Is there anyone, even the most casual follower of American politics, who cannot finish it on his or her own? If so, it may shock you to learn that it proposes repealing "Obamacare", cutting taxes, reducing spending (Pentagon excluded, of course), and balancing the budget through miraculous, unprecedented economic growth that is sure to happen as soon as we pass more tax cuts.

I've seen Babe. I've been to funerals. I've paid to see Episode II: Attack of the Clones in a theater. Yet reading this news item is among the saddest things I've ever experienced. Can you wrap your mind around a group of people so sad, so bereft of the slightest intellectual spark, that they are resorting to the exact same tactic they've been using unsuccessfully for two solid years – standing Paul Ryan next to a podium holding up a binder full of the same ol' shit – because they literally cannot think of anything else to do? They frantically flipped through the playbook and realized that this is the only play; even if it doesn't work, they have no choice but to keep running it.

Paul Ryan is poison, which is why the Romney campaign basically kept him on Fund Raiser Only duty for the last two months of the election. Balancing the budget is an idea that is not only implausible, but which also has almost zero appeal to the voting public (Technically the concept is popular, but people find the things that would be necessary to accomplish it positively abhorrent). There is no grand public backlash against health care reform, despite the constant flogging of Fox News and the for-profit medical industry.

Nobody likes any of this stuff – Paul Ryan, 1990s Gingrich-esque balanced budget rhetoric, railing against Obamacare, promises of magic beans that grow from tax cuts. The Republicans know, or should know, that nobody likes any of it. They have evidence (I bet a handful of them are swayed by that sort of thing, no?) that nobody likes it and that this strategy does not work. They know it doesn't work because they just tried it. For two years. And here they are doing it all again anyway because they cannot think of anything better to do, or perhaps anything at all.

When we can look at a news item and sincerely question whether it is from March 2013 or October 2011 it might be time to retire that "Party of Ideas" slogan.