"I wish I knew why the GOP has suddenly gone kamikaze on this Ryan plan"I don't think it is especially strange. It is conservatives and fundamentalists who hate social change and who are ready to accept any idiocy that might stop it from happening. It's essentially panic.
The panic comes from the feeling they have that they are an oppressed minority whose society is being stolen from them by some amorphous group they label "Liberals" together with the MSM. They were really, really down when Obama easily was elected President.
But then the cabal of conservative American businessmen who have been out to eliminate the New Deal created the astro-turf "tea-baggers" (quickly renamed when they realized their mistake) and took advantage of the down economy, the Citizens United decision, the right-wing preference of the big corporate media and the battle against the Affordable Care Act (which politically weakened Obama) to reverse the election results in the otherwise low-turnout midterm elections. Suddenly the conservatives feel like they are winning after a long and hopeless down period.
Groups do not conduct a revolt when they are down. The do it when they have been down and feel like things are looking up. That's where the conservative-dominated GOP is right now. This is an attempted coup-de-etate by the money Republicans and their allies and foot soldiers the social Republicans.
The frenzy is because it is not a sure thing. They think they have a chance to succeed in taking over the American government system, but right now they have to ram through everything they can as fast as they can, especially the voter suppression projects and the weakening of Democratic organizations like unions and Planned Parenthood.
The Ryan plan to kill Medicare is something they have said to each other in private since it was passed, and they were certain that they could get their senior voting block to agree as long as it didn't affect them. They considered the exemption of anyone over age 55 to be a masterstroke. They were playing to the conservative base. Inside their conservative hothouse it seemed like a really good idea, and no one was allowed to question it. We've seen what happens to Republicans who question the conventional wisdom by the attacks on Gingrich when he dared to question the Ryan budget. It became typical group-think. As smart as some Republicans are, as a group they are authoritarian in nature and extremely susceptible to group-think. That's in fact normal behavior for fundamentalist religious groups.
Also, the Congressional Republicans had no budget alternative, so to circle the wagons the Ryan budget was the only "flag" they had to defend. Since they believe only other conservatives and conservatives speak to each other only in conservative double speak it seemed like a really good idea when they trotted it out. Now it is hung about their neck and they simply can't back down. They have to go all the way with it.
Finally, since the conservatives are a top-down organization with messages centrally controlled, individuals are not expected to integrate messages. One message can be diametrically opposite to another and the individuals will be expected to present the group-think set of messages without trusting their one judgment. Again, this is a characteristic of authoritarian organizations. It should not be a big surprise since the Republicans are an alliance of several groups that each strongly disagree, but what happens is that each gets their own area carved out for them and the rest let them have it. That is the way the money Republicans and the Social Republicans deal with messages and with packing the judiciary.
Steve Benen has written two posts today about the Republican loss of connection to reality.