August 11, 2012


Romney Picks Paul Ryan of Wisconsin (JEFF ZELENY, August 11, 2012, NY Times)

In choosing Mr. Ryan, Mr. Romney was looking for a running mate to help shake up the race in the final three months. Mr. Ryan is seen as a rising star in the Republican Party and a favorite among conservative activists who view him as deeply committed to their fiscal principles.

But Mr. Ryan, a member of Congress since 1999, is also a lightning rod for Democrats who view him as the epitome of the Republican vision of deep cuts in social spending and entitlement programs. Unlike Mr. Romney, Mr. Ryan has spent nearly his entire career in Washington either in or around the federal government.

As chairman of the House Budget Committee, he pushed his colleagues to boldly stake out an uncompromising position on the nation's fiscal burdens.

The Ryan alternative to the Obama administration's budget -- once seen by many Republicans as too politically fraught, with its blunt talk of overhauling Medicare and Social Security -- has become the core of the party's fiscal plan. He was a central pillar in winning a Congressional majority in 2010 and persuaded his party to embrace a "Roadmap for America's Future," and promoted himself as one of the party's leaders who called themselves the Young Guns.

Now, Mr. Ryan's budget becomes the centerpiece of the debate in the presidential campaign, with Democrats eager to pounce on a program, which is politically risky. Even for Republicans, the dangers were underscored by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich last year, who called the plan "right-wing social engineering," but was quickly scolded by conservatives.

Picking Mr. Ryan would indicate that Mr. Romney wants to double-down on his basic message, making his case for a conservative overhaul of the nation's economy.

The GOP also won the 2000 and 2004 presidentials and the 2002 midterm running on the Third Way reforms that Mr. Ryan advocates.  Likewise, he's nearly as Open Borders as W. The biggest downsides, and they are considerable, are that taking him out of the House makes it harder to pass reformist legislation and were something, God forbid, to happen to President Romney, he's as unprepared for the executive job as the UR was.  As W's choice of a running mate who added nothing to the ticket but had basically already been a president reflected his personal/political strength, so too does Mr. Romney's choice of someone who remakes the race ideologically but should not hold the higher office reflect his personal/political weakness.  

Posted by at August 11, 2012 9:01 AM

blog comments powered by Disqus