Ryan? Really?

Your VP pick should be someone who compliments you and kind of fills in for your weaknesses. Ryan is charismatic, no doubt, so I get that. But it seems to me that Romney has two groups of people he’s failed to excite–the Republican everyday folks and undecideds. I’m not a campaign strategist, but I would think that, unless you’re afraid regular Republicans are so grossed out by Romney that they’re going to stay home, you’d pick a VP candidate that appeals to moderates.

I think the thing that strikes me is that Ryan is a great vice-presidential candidate for a strong presidential candidate. He could really be a good compliment for someone who plays better with the middle.

But who is enthusiastic about Romney? I’m not a Republican, but he seems to be almost everyone’s “Well, at least he’s not Obama” candidate.

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Republicans, but I do feel bad for them that they’re running a guy whose main qualification is that he’s not they guy they hate. We went through our “Anybody but Bush” years and they were not pleasant.

And I think that the problem with Romney choosing Ryan is that it just reads like Romney is afraid his base won’t turn out. That’s not a good place to be in either.

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8 thoughts on “Ryan? Really?

  1. I’m reading this differently. I think Romney knows that his actual record is nearly indistinguishable (and somewhat to the left, sometimes) from a person that his base thinks is a socialist. What he got with Ryan is a white guy who has had recent success as the national voice of the non-Tea Party conservatives. With an RR ticket, I think he’s trying to signal that he’s not going to be driven by the lunatic fringe of his own party and thus trying to peel away the unsettled right-leaning swing voters who broke for Obama last time. He’s betting that the Birthers and other grab-bag of loons are on board anyhow. He doesn’t need to cater to them because they sure as hell aren’t going to vote Democrat.

  2. Interesting. The best take I’ve read so far on Paul Ryan comes from Charles Pierce:

    Paul Ryan is an authentically dangerous zealot. He does not want to reform entitlements. He wants to eliminate them. He wants to eliminate them because he doesn’t believe they are a legitimate function of government. He is a smiling, aw-shucks murderer of opportunity, a creator of dystopias in which he never will have to live.

    Read more: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/paul-ryan-romney-vp-pick-11562917#ixzz23GAd9I56

    In a sense, this is the best of all possible picks for Romney. I’d call it genius if it weren’t being played to the easy pickings of a godawful electorate made up of self-serving, violently ignorant rubes. Today’s Democratic Party (led by Obama and the millionaire Dems in the Senate) is busy serving up social policy treacle to its cowed base while it continues to protect and solidify the corporate, financial, and imperial status quo. So for Romney to distinguish himself from that conservative/faux-progressive pastiche while trying to look competent and still not lose all the 25-30% of U.S. voters who’ve completely lost their shit, he needs to ally himself with someone who can offer radical, self-immolating cruelty as if it’s actually sane and rational. Enter Paul Ryan. Voila.

    If you pay attention to the details (such as they are) of Ryan’s policy prescriptions, they read like scorched-earth right-wing lunacy. But Ryan’s appeal is that he’s white, male, young, good-looking, and he’s able to serve up reactionary batshit with a calm voice and a straight face. The corporate media will fall all over themselves treating him like a serious policy wonk, and right-wing media (bit of redundancy there, I know) will translate the message so that enough of the teabagging crowd will understand that Ryan’s plans promise to bring a lot more pain to niggers and bitches. Again, given the corner into which we’ve all painted ourselves over the last couple or twenty decades, this is a brilliant move. Match it up with enough success from the GOP’s vigorous vote-suppression program, and I think you might see a close outcome in November.

  3. I dunno, though. The older white/unsettled right-leaning swing voters who might be reassured by Ryan’s whiteness are going to be put off by attacks on Social Security and Medicare. So it may be a wash.

  4. I suspect that the Romney people wanted to get the VP selection done as soon as possible and that Ryan was the best available option. Had he waited until the Convention, the pressure from various groups to pick a Ryan or Rand Paul or similar sort would give the impression that the choice was forced on Mittens.

    Sam,

    In a better world, Romney would have picked a Mitch Daniels or a Condi Rice or a John Huntsmann {the idea of American having two Mormons in the Executive would be a delicious turn on the ideal polygamy or, in the case. polygamitt} or a Tim Pawlenty. But in a better world, the Republican nominee would be a Huntsmann or a Jeb Bush or someone with principles and good judgement.

    As for Ryan being a ‘dangerous zealot,’ all I can say is that often one man’s zealot is another man’s principled leader. For example, you might consider allowing children in public schools to give each other ‘Christmas’ presents to be a violation of the Establishment Clause where I would consider that, in light of American History, to be a dangerously extremist view.

    One can reasonably object to Ryan’s position on entitlements based on philosophy or on public policy but it is unfair to suggest that he is wrong to question the idea of entitlements over other forms of government assistance. Especially since the current major entitlements are imposing costs on the public that cannot be maintained without confiscatory levels of taxation {see France and the proposed 75% rate on high incomes}.

  5. I’d like to respond to your comment, Mark Rogers, but I can’t be sure how much of it is irony. Your characterization of Jeb Bush as someone with ‘principles’ and ‘good judgement’ is a key point of confusion. Between the strangely irrelevant (and specious) analogy in your third paragraph and the word salad of GOP talking points in the fourth, I’m leaning toward full irony, or at least that you haven’t actually read any of Ryan’s ‘proposals.’

  6. A friend of mine pointed out that this is the first ticket in American presidential history to have no Protestants on it. Likewise, the US Supreme Court has no Protestants on it. That’s going to freak some people out.

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