If any of you went back and looked to see what I've written about Rep. Paul Ryan in the past, you found that the answer was "almost nothing." There's a couple of reasons for that:
1) I think his heart is in the right place, but,
2) I think his brain is in the wrong place.
I haven't wanted to be too critical of a man who wants the right things, and who was clearly fighting in the right direction, but I also don't think his famous plan begins to approach the scale of the problem we face. I think I know why, too: Rep. Ryan has spent literally his entire adult life in Congress, and so his framework for understanding the problem is the CBO math. He's clearly familiar with the CBO numbers down to the minutiae. The problem is that the CBO numbers intentionally refuse to take account of the true costs we face in terms of entitlements and Federal pensions.
Thus, Rep. Ryan's critics are right: his plan is entirely inadequate. It fixes the problem as the CBO sees it, though not for fifty years: but it doesn't begin to fix the real problem.
I would not have chosen this as the starting line for the battle we are about to wage. If we end up compromising from here, as we are likely to do given that is the political process, we will be beginning from a position that already fails to solve the problems. The NYT is already blasting Rep. Ryan's plan as Armageddon for everything good and right in America, but the truth is that plan pales by comparison to what really needs to be done.
On the other hand, as mentioned, Rep. Ryan's heart is in the right place. If he doesn't understand the scale, he does understand the stakes. When he talks about these things, he talks about saving the country. That's really what is at stake: if we don't come to a repair on these issues, the tensions will tear us apart. If we get to the crisis point without having fixed the entitlement and pension crisis, our nation will dissolve into factions over the question of who gets cut most. These will be life or death questions for everyone involved, because they will have come to be dependent upon the programs that are no longer viable.
That leads me to believe that Rep. Ryan is educable on the question of the scale. This also provides an opportunity for those who have been following this issue, like USA Today (and Mr. Steyn, whom Tex mentions below), to bring the issue to the level of the national debate.
It's a chance, which is more than we seemed likely to get out of this election. In an hour of grave danger, one must be bold in seizing on any chances that Fate sends.