Skip to comments.Don't fear Ryan
Posted on 08/09/2012 8:09:45 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
If you are a Republican political consultant, you are almost professionally obliged to be shocked and appalled at the prospect of Rep. Paul Ryan as Mitt Romneys running mate.
With reliable reports that Ryans on Romneys short-short list, the weeping and rending of garments among the Republican political class has already begun. You mean, they lament, hes going to pick the Republican who embodies messing around with entitlements? The chairman of the House Budget Committee, for Gods sake?
Ryan is the guy political consultants see right before they wake up from a nightmare of a really bad focus group.
That the hyper-cautious Romney is seriously considering him counts as one of the biggest surprises of a campaign almost entirely lacking in them. Picking Ryan would represent a Romney revolt against conventional wisdom. And appropriately so since the conventional wisdom is wrong.
In political terms, picking Ryan is supposedly like hanging out with the No. 2 of an Al Qaeda affiliate somewhere in the badlands of the Middle East. Hes a target. If the missiles havent yet taken him out, its only because the drone is hovering silently overhead before hurling down its bolts of death.
Ryan tops the Democratic target list for the offense of proposing serious reform of Medicare, as part of a budget that puts federal obligations on a sustainable path. Its been a cardinal rule of Republican politics that its OK to talk about balancing the budget, so long as no one talks about touching the entitlements that drive the long-term debt. Ryan broke the rule.
Hes already featured in one attack ad, pushing an old lady in a wheelchair off a cliff. If hes on the ticket, this will seem quaint.
Theres no doubt that the heart of the Ryan budget, Medicare premium support, is a major political risk. But the GOP is wedded to it. House Republicans passed the Ryan budget twice. Romney himself endorsed it. He is already a little bit pregnant on Medicare reform. You dont get to re-cross the Rubicon once youve boldly marched your legions to the other side. Even if you wanted to, David Axelrod would block the way.
The Democrats assault over Medicare will be ferocious not to mention lowdown and dishonest. Hell, theyve already all but accused Romney of killing someone, and they havent even gotten around to Medicare. When the barrage starts, Romney wont be able to duck and cover or look at his shoes. Hell have to win the argument or at least hold his own.
This is the broader point. Romney has to carry the argument to President Barack Obama. The state of the economy alone isnt enough to convince people that Romney has better ideas to create jobs. Neither is his résumé. Romney needs to make the case for his program, and perhaps no one is better suited to contribute to this effort than Ryan.
Ryan is an ideologue in the best sense of the term. He is motivated by ideas and knows what he believes and why. But hes not blinkered. He is an explainer and a persuader.
Before there was a House-passed Ryan budget, there was Ryan meeting with Republican freshmen, walking them through the numbers and convincing them that true fiscal restraint was impossible without addressing entitlements. When the House took up and passed his budget, there was Ryan plugging for it as comfortable with Charlie Rose as Rush Limbaugh.
On top of Medicare, worried Republicans fear Romney becoming too identified with House Republicans. But anyone looking at Ryan for two minutes will realize he runs completely counter to the stereotype of the wild-eyed, bomb-throwing House Republican. He is invariably civil, sure-footed and good-natured. He never loses his cool, even under extreme provocation. If anything, he is over-earnest.
The debate would not become all about the budget, as some anxious Republicans fear. At least not for the duration of the campaign. The economy remains the biggest issue, and Ryan has always been clear that his budget is best understood as a tool of economic growth rather than an expression of austerity. He is, at heart, still the protégé of Jack Kemp, his sunny, growth-obsessed political mentor.
The idea that Ryan is too important to steal away from the House Budget Committee is also a misapprehension. Hes done his work there. Now, anyone else can take up the template.
At the end of the day, Ryan is not such an odd match for Romney. It would be characteristic for Romney to consider his VP choice as an employment decision. And characteristic for him to hire a wonky young talent. If Ryan had been into finance instead of politics back in the 1990s, you could easily see Romney picking him up for Bain Capital.
Romney is, at bottom, a data-driven technocrat. The question has always been whether he wants to bring that skill to managing the federal government or transforming it. If he chooses Ryan, the answer is inarguably transforming it.
Ryan would be Romneys adjutant in the most consequential turnaround operation of the former Massachusetts governors career.
Romney has other worthy VP options that dont provoke such agita. Overly safe is its own risk, though. Tim Pawlenty would offend no one, but might create a VP letdown in the party. Rob Portman is highly capable but is a former Bush official at a time when the Obama campaign is eager to define Romney as Bush redux.
Ryan would inject a jolt of energy into the campaign and reorient the debate around policy. The Romney campaign doesnt have to be reckless. It does have to have a pulse. It doesnt have to commit ideological hari-kari. It does have to have an unmistakable substantive content.
At times over the past few months, it has seemed that the Romney campaign has embarked on audacious experiment to see if its possible to run a presidential campaign devoid of real interest.
With the choice of Ryan, that would change in an instant.
-- Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review.
“I think we can balance the budget without touching entitlements.”
No, the current set up of “entitlements” creates long-term structural imbalance in the budget that CANNOT be rectified through other means. “Entitlements” must be addressed or we are going to go bankrupt, just like Greece.
And this is the hard part for everyone to accept; EVERYONE must give up something in order to make it work. NO ONE can be exempt, because once you start making exemptions, then you wind up reforming nothing.
Some “entitlements” need (social security) to be tweaked, others (welfare) gutted. But unless you accept the premise of making some significant changes AND sacrfices, we are just wasting our time. Might as well party until the crash.
Well you’re wrong in every part of your post, so at least you’re consistent.
If the options are Ryan, Portman, Pawlenty or Christie, I’m all in for Ryan.
That is precisely why Romney won’t pick Ryan. I’m afraid Willard is a candidate who thinks he can manage the welfare state better than the Democrats. And not that he wants to destroy it. The Mittster is trying very hard not to appear to be one of those awful Tea Party types who believe in the constitution and limited government. So we’ve got Mitt The Bland as our candidate. I’m prepared to eat crow if he picks Ryan. But I don’t think I’ll be wrong. (Where’s that bottle of ketchup?)
Best of the four, if you count Krispy Kreme.
Good list. His master is the party, not principle. Only the blind miss that.
I was very critical of his medicare ‘idea’ ‘proposal’. There were a number of things wrong with it and I could see early on that it was never serious anyway.
How are you going to sell a plan that promises all Seniors born before a certain date that they get the full golden medicare benefits that are given now, with zero cuts, and the rest born after a certain date are pretty much on their own to find a private insurer? Talk about high risk pools/
Then the defense was that that splitting of Americans was necessary to ‘get it passed’. Hell, only those over that magic age ~ 55 vote?? How could that possibly sell?
There was no real bill, nothing ‘passed’, Ryan convinced no one, in fact a Romney POTUS led Republican party congress would never write a bill like that symbolic one they all voted for. Nor would any Republican POTUS congress that had to run for re-election. The whole thing was a scam.
Romney/Ryan sounds good, but Romney/Rubio sounds better. This is a race mostly about demographics. Romney has the white male vote, and needs to appeal to either Hispanics or women much better than he currently does. If he picks Rubio or Martinez he grabs a lot more votes than he would by selecting a wonky white guy, and this type of VP pick more greatly neuters the rabidly leftist media. Like it or not, Hispanics and women will greatly decide this election and many more to come, so it’s high time for the GOP to get ahead of the curve.
So do we respect the idea and Ryan is not a bad choice at all. We just think the other option is better because Ryan can provide fresh new leadership in the House which is greatly needed. McDonnel as the VP is a great choice because he is a good Gov with solid executive experience
I will be most happy if Ryan is chosen, over all of the other front runners. Forty two, three kids, Catholic, sounds great to me. One odd, sinister item about him from Wiki, his great grandfather died at 59, his grandfather at 57, and his father at 55, all heart attacks....
This is what I think Sarah Palin would handle well. She took on the political establishment in Alaska with a "Make my day!" approach ... and WON!
” I’ve never been impressed with Ryan.
-Medicare Plan D
-Every Bush budget, no cuts
-No Child Left Behind
-And, his ‘plan’ increases the budget and his ‘cuts’ aren’t deep enough “
Ryan hasn’t shown anything, or proved anything....except that he has voted for TARP. Medicare Plan D, and “No Union Teacher Left Unfunded”.
By the way, it’s easy to advocate something you KNOW your own party won’t vote for : )