Mitt Romney has announced his running mate, selecting seven-term Congressman Paul Ryan(R-WI) to fill the post. While I like Paul Ryan, I don’t think this choice will change the trajectory of this campaign, and like Sarah Palin in 2008, he may be the campaign’s biggest individual victim. Ryan has been inside Washington DC for nearly two decades now, a creature of the establishment who has worked for various well-known figures including Jack Kemp, William Bennett, Sam Brownback and others before kicking off his Congressional career. Ryan is a technocrat in some respects, and while he is modestly conservative, his conservatism seems focused in the fiscal arena. He’s been depicted by Democrats in television ads as the guy who pushed Grandma (in a wheelchair, no less) over a cliff. What does he bring to the ticket? Is Paul Ryan enough to save Romney from himself and a heretofore inept campaign? Paul Ryan may be a nice guy, but is that enough in the face of a relentless attack the likes of which the Obama campaign is launching as I write? I have my doubts, because running mates can’t overcome the inherent shortcomings of the top of the ticket, as the selection of Palin in 2008 proved, since even her talent wasn’t enough to overcome terrible advisers. Can Ryan avoid the same fate?
Some might argue that what Ryan brings to the ticket is youth but also reliability. After all, the seven-term Congressman has been toiling on budgetary matters for most of his career, and in the last number of years, he’s been focused on entitlements as the single largest factor in our continued deficits, and the consequent explosion in our national debt. He was a fierce critic of Obama-care, laying out all of the ways in which it would explode our deficit, costing far more than promised by President Obama. His willingness to tackle the entitlements issue when others ran for the tall grass earns him a gold star, and everybody should see this video of Ryan facing off with the President, explaining that hiding costs doesn’t reduce spending:
Romney is looking for a safe pick. He wants a running mate who won’t embarrass him, but of course, Gov. Romney does enough of that on his own. While in Norfolk,VA to officially launch his campaign, introducing Paul Ryan, Romney introduced Ryan as the “Next President of the United States…” (We should be so lucky.)
Romney wanted a safe pick, and he got one. Ryan is safe in every way an establishment Republican thinks is safe, but he isn’t a particularly charismatic or inspiring fellow. He certainly seems like a nice enough fellow, but historical Republican losing tickets are littered with nice guys as running mates. Dan Quayle is a nice guy. Jack Kemp was a really nice guy. What Romney’s ticket had needed was a bit more than a nice guy, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Paul Ryan except that he will not provide the boost Romney’s campaign needs.
Naturally, the Democrats were right out of the box with attacks on Ryan’s foreign policy experience, and true to form, Romney’s team countered with perhaps the most pathetic response ever:
“The ticket is no different than Obama and Biden.”
In the end, this may be why I agree with Mr. L on the 2012 election:
If the Romney campaign is going to defend Ryan’s lack of military and foreign policy experience on this basis, they’re going to lose. Who is running the Romney campaign? To me, it looks like a re-run of 2008, with the weakest possible nominee, and a rising conservative lion in the role of sacrificial lamb.
I like Paul Ryan, and in fact, I like him too well to see him sacrificed on the altar of another losing campaign. Just as Sarah Palin was sliced and diced by a dishonest press working on behalf of a desperate Obama campaign in 2008, I think we’re going to see the same thing in 2012 with Paul Ryan, although I doubt they could match their venom of 2008. Why is it that for the second presidential campaign in succession, I have the distinct feeling that the Republican ticket should be flipped?
Of course, there’s one inescapable conclusion to be drawn from all of this, and it references those who Gov. Palin might consider part of the “permanent political class” of Washington DC, who move from campaign to campaign, party to party, back and forth and around again: It seems the same bunch is running the show in 2012 for the Republicans. I noticed Elliot Abrams, who wrote a disgusting anti-Gingrich screed earlier this year was briefing Paul Ryan on foreign policy. I noticed Andrea Saul, who worked for McCain in 2008, is doing Romney no favors in 2012. It seems like the Romney campaign has hired many of the same faces who have remained behind the scenes, infecting Washington DC for a generation, and they all have something in common: They know how to fight against conservatives, but they seem less than sincere in their fight against leftists. One can only imagine why.
Note to regular readers: Thank you for your prayers and get-well wishes as I’ve been recovering from an eye injury. It’s still pretty sore, but on the mend. Thank you!