In selecting Paul Ryan as his running mate Romney took the bold path today. He also picked knowledge and competence. Ryan’s various budgets and plans will now become the central campaign issue, and in a way Obama gets his election of “choice.” But Ryan will be able to keep the president’s record up front too. Today he called Obama’s polices a failure. He spoke of the failure of Obama’s policies as resulting in “debt, doubt and despair.” The Romney campaign needs to be persistent in emphasizing facts like increasing debt, slow economic growth, high unemployment, and that there has been no budget passed during the Obama administration. So the campaign is still a “referendum” on Obama too, and a warning of where continuing on this path would lead.
Here is a taste of some speeches Paul Ryan has given in the last year and a half or so at Heritage, CPAC, Georgetown, and the Ronald Reagan Foundation. In these speeches, he indeed follows the advice of Barney Frank that Pete mentioned—he sticks to what he knows, budgets and entitlements.
Given the occasion, there are interesting nuances in Ryan’s rhetoric. I would especially point out the Georgetown speech where he outlines his understanding of social justice because it cuts against the grain of his supposed “leave everyone except the wealthy on their own” ideology. After all, we had seen that he wants to roll grandma in her wheelchair off a cliff. I’m surprised that ad didn’t depict his body double with a well-read copy of Atlas Shrugged in his suit pocket.
Today Ryan said that the American people want and need to hear the truth about our looming fiscal crisis, but this will be answered with the charge of unfairly favoring the wealthy few, coupled with all kinds of “mediscare” ads. Peter notes that this is indeed scary stuff. I guess we’ll see how much truth is not too scary this November.
Ryan mentioned something today that he regularly mentions—that our rights come from nature and God and not from government. This gives the Romney campaign an element of high principle that it had been lacking in its technocratic emphasis on how Romney knows how to fix things.
But the skeptics have already weighed in on whether or not Ryan’s political talent and conviction will be wasted with its addition to the ticket. On Facebook, Bruce Bartlett quoted Eli Lake as follows: “The worst that can happen to Paul Ryan is that the ticket wins. Then Ryan–who has won a loyal following as the principled budget cutter–will have to line up behind Romney budgets. This is kind of like putting Eddie Van Halen in REO Speedwagon. Yes it makes REO Speedwagon rock a lot harder, but it totally ruins Van Halen.”