Courageous Ryan Pick Mystifies Me

Does the Ryan pick make Romney a political Jedi Master?

I have combed through dozens of articles, by conservatives and liberals, but I cannot get away from this fact: Ryan was known only for his ‘Ryan Budget.’  Without it he is just 1 of 435 House members.  And I do not know why Romney wants to make the Ryan Plan central to his campaign.  Regardless of whether you like it or not, the Ryan Plan is objectively quite unpopular.

I feel like only a couple of years ago, most everybody, Republican and Democrat, appreciated and respected Ryan, but saw him as politically toxic because of his entitlement reform plans.  In fact, he was never seen as having a chance at President or Vice President, or any greater ambition really.  His was an important voice that deserved applause but not an embrace.  While the Republican party might have changed recently, I do not see his views as any less offensive to moderates and independents.   Romney’s embrace of Ryan also reinforces the narrative that “rich Romney loves tax breaks for the rich” (the Ryan Plan calls for tax cuts for the wealthy paid for by spending cuts in entitlements that come into effect a decade or so later).

This choice also undercuts Romney’s talk about how governorship and business experience (executive experience) is what America needs right now.  As I argue in Boardwalk, Park Place, & Veepstakes, he should have put all his chips into one argument:  America, hire the uber-competent team of Mr. Fix-Its.   There was a degree of magic in a Pawlenty pick.  Though a bit boring, that would have been in fact a strength: it would have made the campaign about Obama’s record instead of an extremely unpopular budget proposal.  (And it looks like the Obama high command was very afraid of a Pawlenty pick too.  But Ryan is great to run against.)  In contrast, Paul Ryan has DC legislative experience only and has “never run anything”–not a business, city, or state–much like criticism someone else received  in 2008 (his name rhymes with Osama).

Maybe Romney picked Ryan to show that he is capable of making tough choices?  This choice certainly makes Romney appear substantive.  Ryan is bold, smart, and offers specific policies, but I’m not sure the substance is something they can win on.  However, this is the one of the best arguments I have read.  Romney needs to look like less of a sleazy hair-do.

Maybe Romney picked Ryan to get Wisconsin?  But Ryan has not campaigned statewide; most Wisconsonians have never heard of him.  And even if picking Ryan does get him Wisconsin, that is only 10 electoral votes.  Florida, with 29 electoral votes, is almost certainly lost because Ryan’s entitlement reforms don’t play well with older populations, and the Ryan pick will drag down the vote in older populations everywhere else in the country.  In contrast, picking Rubio would have helped Romney win Florida (Rubio was a Senator), and help with latino turnout in ever single state with latino populations, including important swing states like Nevada and New Mexico.

Maybe Romney did it to keep the focus on the economy and domestic policy, compared to foreign policy where Obama has a comparative advantage?  But that did not need to be done; the conversation was already going to be about the economy and domestic policy.

Maybe Romney did it because he wanted to leave the party with a legacy of thoughtful articulate conservatism?  He did not want to elevate a Sarah Palin.  Laudable, but I feel that Romney wants to win now.

But Romney is smart and savvy, s0 here I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Until then, this VP pick looks like courageous political suicide.  I am kind of impressed actually.

Romney, we hardly knew you. 

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About Jer Clifton

Look up, friend. The world is too beautiful for my eyes alone. View all posts by Jer Clifton

7 responses to “Courageous Ryan Pick Mystifies Me

  • J. Palmer

    If I were Romney, I would have gone with Rubio. I think the Ryan pick says that Romney has completely conceded the Hispanic vote.

  • Anonymous

    As one conservative blogger put it. “Paul Ryan represents Obama’s most horrifying nightmare: Math.”

    If we can agree that we are in a fiscal meltdown. I think this is obvious those who don’t agree can go take their unicorns for a gallop this afternoon. If you want to fix it the problem you can’t keep double counting this and ignoring that. Social Security, Medicare and Welfare need to be addressed. You can not balance the budget without making cuts to them. Even if you cut 100% of the defense budget and tax those who make over $250,000 at 100% of their income the budget still doesn’t balance.

    If someone has a plan, a real plan, that can do this without addressing those three entitlements I would love to hear it.

    Show me the MONEY!

    • Jer Clifton

      I feel you are making a number of unsubstantiated overstatements here.

    • Whit

      I know it’s poor decorum to leave comments on crappy blogs, no less replying to crazy commenters, but I just can’t help myself; I’m feeling dynamic, attractive and drunk.

      “Fiscal meltdown,” really, you poor soul, you’re confused, you must think it’s still late 2008, how adorable, you’re like that old lady in The Notebook. Don’t worry, I’ll be your Ryan Gosling, I play this game all the time. The fiscal meltdown was four years ago and it’s ok, we got passed it. It’s 2012 now; unicorns still don’t exist you big silly, and Obama and Bernanke pulled off fiscal alchemy. We were headed into a second great depression, you’re right about that, but thanks to stimulus spending (which was largely made up of tax cuts) and QE1 and 2 our economy everted disaster.
      Yay!
      But don’t forget: (and I know this doesn’t mesh with your political paradigm) the economy didn’t just magically stop itself from tumbling over the brink. Ben Bernanke will surly go down in history along with Volcker as one of the all time greats.
      Our large national debt which causes uncertainty and sluggish growth is a side-affect of the good medicine Obama and Bernanke gave us in order to prevent us from dying. So maybe you should stop being such a whining ungrateful patient. This isn’t even that complicated to understand, hell, even George Bush understood it, which is why he started TARP and the bailouts.
      So in conclusion, three things: tax breaks and cuts are Keynesian tools too, just like government spending. Secondly – we’re not in a fiscal meltdown and any economist worth his salt agrees. (maybe some gloomy times ahead, sure, but we’re way better off then in 2008.) And lastly I think Romney/Ryan is actually a great ticket. Seriously. In 2016 after we ride out the waves of Europe unfuckingitself I could totally see voting for them. I just think now isn’t the right time to make the kinds of cuts that Ryan wants. But I could be wrong, and I’m open to persuasion. But every time I hear a supporter like yourself spew out such uneducated nonsense it pushes me one step closer to the left in search for intelligence.
      I’m one of the few undecided voters left in this country but the self-righteous sore-losermanship of the tea-party GOP makes me want to vote for Obama out of spite. He hasn’t and isn’t going to destroy America; Rome is not burning down no matter how entertaining that sounds on talk radio.

      wow, this came off a lot meaner then I meant it too. I’m sorry. You’re probably a wonderful person, I don’t mean to be so catty.

      Oh, and Simpson-Bowles I think was imperfect but mostly a splendid bipartisan budget plan that Ryan helped kill; putting dogmatic ideology over country. But again, I could be wrong. (Obama didn’t support it either)

  • Andrew Loucks

    You give any credence to the rumors that he fought his campaign to go with Ryan? They’re talking on Diane Rehm about how this is more like a CEO hiring a guy he likes instead of a politician picking a running mate.

    Seems to me a blunder or at best, a missed opportunity. It seems to me a lot of conservatives are making the same faces they make when they get a Christmas gift they don’t like but don’t want to offend the giver.

  • Jer Clifton

    Romney does seem to like Ryan personally, but I really have no idea. The only reason the rumor makes some sense to me is that, at this point, Ryan seems like a bad political gamble that political strategists would advise against. Having said that, I think it is easy to over do the “Mitt the CEO” story. He ran for senator, he was governor of Mass., he’s run for president twice now, and he was raised the governor of Michigan who also ran for president. He’s got politician in the blood.

    Your metaphor is beautiful…but I think I might disagree. I feel conservatives (many at least) are genuinely excited by the pick, but worry that it will make them lose.

    We will see!

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