With a few days to digest the news of Mitt Romney's choice for his
vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, it can be observed that
some folks are misreading the choice.
Interestingly enough, most of those who misread it are not Democrats.
Publicly, of course, virtually all those who speak for Team Obama, and
those who think they speak for them, are verbally celebrating the "poor"
choice, now almost guaranteeing the president's election. That is the
inevitable and predictable spin. No matter who Romney chose, these
spokespersons would have said the same thing.
But the president himself, and most savvy Democratic operatives, are
speaking very respectfully of Paul Ryan the man and public official.
That's because you don't have to be a all-wise media consultant to know
that Paul Ryan has a formidable private and political persona. The
Democrats know that Romney not only made the best choice he could,
but that the choice is going to make it more difficult for them to win in
November. Of course, the Democrats are definitely not throwing in the
towel. They know that voters do not often cast their ballot for vice
president, and the liberals feel they can handily beat Mitt Romney, the
GOP candidate for president.
It really is some Republicans and faux-conservatives who are misreading
the Ryan choice. Of course, Mr. Ryan is not a perfect candidate, no one
ever is, but he is likely to do something few vice presidential candidates
ever do, i.e., notably help the top of the ticket.
In some ways, Paul Ryan brings some of the best attributes of most of
his rivals for vice president, and without their liabilities. He is as smart
and Washington-wise as Rob Portman. He is as young, blue collar and
articulate as TIm Pawlenty, He has much of the grass roots appeal, and
ability to talk back to Democrats, as Chris Christie. He brings almost as
many electoral votes to the table as Bob McDonnell. On the other hand,
he is an Irish-German Catholic, with a great family, a spotless
background, a fine personal story, and an informal, sincere manner that
is almost unprecedented in politics these days.
He does have some controversial votes (for conservatives) from his early
days in the U.S. house. His reform of government plan is not without
possible controversies, and he is also untested on the national political
stage. But these, as I see it, are far outweighed by the many pluses he
brings to the campaign, not the least of which is the seeming energizing
of his now-mentor Mitt Romney.
What some Republicans and self-styled conservative analysts seem to be
objecting to, ironically, is his conservative substance. "Ammunition for
Obama," "Makes the ticket vulnerable," "Too risky ideas," are what they
are saying, as if any GOP vice presidential choice could have by-passed
Team Obama attacks.
He has only been the vice presidential choice for a few days. It is always
possible he might make some gaffes, or not be up to the challenge he
faces. But he is far less risky than a Dan Quayle, Spiro Agnew, John
Edwards, or Sarah Palin, and so far he has energized his party as few
vice presidential choices ever have.
Before he was elected to Congress, Paul Ryan was a staffer in the nation's
capital. Among those he learned from was the late Jack Kemp, himself a
prominent congressman chosen to run for vice president. Kemp had his
shortcomings and idiosyncracies, but he was an extraordinary political
figure in his day, known for his mastery of economic issues and
conservative ideals, and for being liked and respected even by his
opponents. For those of us who remember Kemp with admiration, the
emergence of his protege Paul Ryan is a sign of rebirth and
rejuvenation of the conservative party.
Copyright (c) 2012 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.