It's the mendacious stereotyping, first of all -- reminiscent of Ted Kennedy's tirade nearly 25 years ago concerning of a comeback for racism should Robert Bork win Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court. Van Hollen finds he just has to stick out his tongue at a Republican trying to solve a problem. The habit is engrained in certain party leaders.
There's more, though, and worse. Congressman Van Hollen's own idea for slowing the runaway debt train is ... is ... well, come on, man, out with it. Whatcha gonna do yourself to help? Call for Slurpees all round?
The gentleman from Maryland isn't obligated to like the Ryan plan. He's got, as I see it, three obligations:
-- To acknowledge a sincere attempt to solve a national problem, viz., the prospect of national bankruptcy.
-- To offer or support -- in the event he thinks the Ryan response wrong or futile -- a more constructive alternative.
-- To avoid insulting the intelligence of people who suppose that even a Republican might have something to say worth hearing.
Talking things over among ourselves as a citizenry, as hopelessly romantic as the idea may seem, is the indicated strategy for coming to some agreement. Numerous voters in 2008 hoped Sen. Barack Obama might further that salutary impulse. One sees in this semi-precedent a useful model for moving forward: less carping; a minimum of old-fashioned demagoguing; some serious attention -- at last -- to the job at hand.