Ryan pick draws the battle-lines

| August 13 2012
Christopher Cook

“There will be no evasion, no triangulation, no attempt to mask what is at stake in this election. Instead, Romney and Ryan will directly confront Barack Obama and call him to account for putting us on a ruinous course.”

—Paul Rahe, Romney’s Declaration of War

On Saturday, after it was revealed that Romney had chosen Paul Ryan to be his running mate, I rushed to print with a piece titled Paul Ryan is the perfect choice, and here’s why . . .. My contentions therein were simple:

1. The entitlement-driven debt/fiscal gap/unfunded liabilities crisis is the biggest crisis right now, and one of the biggest America has ever faced.

2. The left has made a nationwide political franchise out of demagoguing entitlements and scaring seniors, creating the “third rail” of politics.

3. Ryan’s plan may not be proactive enough in the eyes of those of us who understand the depth of the crisis, but it is the most “radical” that we can possibly hope to get by this electorate.

4. By picking Ryan, Romney showed . . .

  • that he plans to tackle this issue head-on, rather than ducking it and trying to squeeze into office on a narrow referendum on Obama and the economy
  • great courage (both in being willing to risk the election by taking on this hot potato . . . AND by picking a running mate who is arguably more dynamic, better versed in budget issues, more comfortable in his own skin, and more personable than he is)

The core point was found in the first part of number four. After thinking about the Ryan pick for just a few moments, the true gravity of it dawned on me: Romney is serious. He’s not going say anything to get elected, and then dither while in office. He’s truly, genuinely serious about tackling the nation’s biggest problem . . . in spite of the tremendous political risk. We don’t even have to wait until he’s in office to find out if he’ll actually do anything about the looming fiscal disaster—he’s taking a stand on it now, while it’s most risky. That takes courage, and it also gives us the measure of the man.

I knew that this view was going to be held by others on the right, but even so, I have been impressed to see just how widely held this view is. Here are just a few samples:

Romney-Ryan Ticket Puts Entitlement Crisis at Center of Campaign:

Romney’s choice was not much of a surprise after he told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Thursday that he wanted someone with a “vision for the country, that adds something to the political discourse about the direction of the country. I mean, I happen to believe this is a defining election for America, that we’re going to be voting for what kind of America we’re going to have.”

This arguably describes some of the others mentioned as possible nominees, but it clearly fits Ryan.

He doesn’t fit some of the standard criteria for vice president. He hasn’t won a statewide election, held an executive position or become well-known nationally or even in much of Wisconsin.

But more than anyone else, more even (as impolite as it is to say) than the putative presidential nominee, Ryan has set the course for the Republican Party for the past three years, both on policy and in politics. From his post as chairman of the House Budget Committee, he has made himself not just a plausible national nominee but a formidable one by advancing and arguing for major changes in entitlement policy.

He has argued consistently that entitlement programs — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid — are on an unsustainable trajectory. Left alone, they threaten to crowd out necessary government spending and throttle the private sector. more

Romney’s Declaration of War

In choosing Paul Ryan as his Vice-Presidential nominee, Mitt Romney has opted to go for broke, and he has indicated that he is a serious man — less concerned with becoming President of the United States than with saving the country from the disaster in store for it if we not radically reverse course, willing to risk a loss for the sake of being able to win a mandate for reform.

[ . . . ]

Governor Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate suggests, in fact, that my suspicions were correct. For by making this choice, Mitt Romney is declaring war. There will be no evasion, no triangulation, no attempt to mask what is at stake in this election. Instead, Romney and Ryan will directly confront Barack Obama and call him to account for putting us on a ruinous course.

This will alter radically the dynamics of the race. The money spent by Obama trying to demonize Governor Romney will prove to be money entirely wasted. The election is not going to be about Mitt Romney. It is not going to be about the sexual revolution. It is not going to be about Bain Capital. It is going to be about the failed policies of Barack Obama, about their dangerous character, and about the sober, sound alternative the Republicans represent. more

2012: Suddenly, A Historic Election?

With Governor Romney’s selection of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, the vague contours of the presidential race have suddenly become sharper. Up until now, partly because Romney’s image has been so fuzzy, we were looking at a referendum on President Obama rather than a clear-cut contest between political philosophies. Now, given Ryan’s prominence as a budget hawk and entitlement reformer, the public has a choice to make.

[ . . . ]

Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan may or may not help him in the Electoral College. But the selection has made this a better election, clarifying the issues and giving the country something more consequential than attack ads and gaffes to think about. We will have to wait and see whether Governor Romney helped himself with this choice; he has, however, helped the country and that seems like a good start. more

And there’s plenty more where that came from.

This is now being called the most consequential election since 1980. That was arguably true before the Ryan pick, simply by virtue of who we’d be getting  out of office. Now, it has become true because of who we’ll (hopefully) be putting into office

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  1. […] This is now being called the most consequential election since 1980. That was arguably true before the Ryan pick, simply by virtue of who we’d be getting out of office. Now, it has become true because of who we’ll (hopefully) be putting into office . . . (q.v.) […]