THE POLITICAL PERILS OF RYAN’S RADICALISM…. Shortly after the ridiculous House Republican budget plan was unveiled this morning, GOP presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty praised Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) “leadership.” Pawlenty did not, however, endorse the plan itself.

Be prepared for a lot of these kinds of reactions.

The assumption in Republican circles is that their budget plan will be politically popular. Indeed, they expect to be “rewarded” for an agenda that eliminates Medicare and guts Medicaid. David Brooks gushed that the GOP plan “will become the 2012 Republican platform, no matter who is the nominee.”

But before the right gets too excited, it’s worth remembering that the Republicans’ plan isn’t popular. Election analyst Charlie Cook reports today that he’s been talking to GOP “pollsters, strategists and veteran campaign professionals,” and he’s heard “sounds of concern,” in part because their party is pursuing an agenda Americans don’t actually like.

[T]hese party insiders believe that taking on entitlements, specifically Medicare, could jeopardize the party’s hold on the House, its strong chances of taking the Senate and the stronghold that the party has been established with older white voters — not coincidentally, Medicare recipients. […]

It is much too early to suggest that the Republican majority in the House is in danger, but the sequence of events that Democrats would need to have a legitimate chance are so far looking increasingly plausible.

House Dems need to gain 25 seats next year to reclaim a majority, and they figure the easiest way to get from here to there is to watch Republicans overreach, then target the vulnerable incumbents, especially freshmen, who go along.

Right on cue, the House GOP has presented a truly ridiculous budget plan, which they know can’t pass, but which they’ll vote for anyway. The devastating campaign ads will write themselves.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.