The young whippersnapper from Wisconsin is getting poked and prodded from all directions by all-comers since he was publicly announced as Mitt Romney’s running mate over the weekend.
Matthew Cooper, writing in National Journal, sees a little bit of the 1996 and 2008 GOP running-mates in Ryan:
[…] Ryan has his selling points. He dominates in a swing district that went for Obama in 2008. Ryan’s likely to be a very good debater against Joe Biden, which will be a far more important moment than a Saturday morning in August. But there are also echoes of less successful tickets: Dole-Kemp 1996 and McCain-Palin 2008.
It’s hard to remember now, but the late Jack Kemp was the Paul Ryan of his day–a House member who was considered intellectual, idea-driven and the smartest voice in the party. Kemp’s focus was more on the poor than on deficits, which he was less worried about debt than your average Republican. And by the time he had reached the vice presidential nomination, he’d already been secretary of Housing and Urban Development and had a good run in the NFL. He was a more august figure than Ryan. But coming from his swing district in Buffalo, Kemp was seen, like Ryan, as someone who could make the case to Democrats and independents. Like Ryan, he was quite charming and well liked.
The cautionary lesson for Romney is that Kemp wound up adding little to the Dole ticket. He didn’t shine in the debates and he didn’t sway voters. There are, of course, big differences between then and now. Romney is in a much stronger position than Dole. Obama is in a weaker position than Clinton. Still, the important thing is that putting a GOP ideas man on the ticket didn’t help that much.
The analogy to Palin is more tenuous but important. Obviously, Ryan brings a level of government experience and policy command that’s the very opposite of Palin’s.
The similarity is that Palin became the center of the ticket, and we don’t know yet if Ryan will be able to recede into the background. I’m not sure the Democrats will let that happen. They’ll be happy to point to the Ryan plan’s lowering rates for the wealthier earners as well as fundamentally transforming Medicare–at least in its first iteration. If we’re talking about the Ryan plan in October, we’ll know there’s been a Palin-like shift in gravity. Maybe that can work to Romney’s benefit. Lyndon Johnson was a big presence on the 1960 ticket to JFK’s benefit. Nixon ’52 couldn’t overshadow Ike, but he was the young turk of his day and it didn’t help, Checkers aside.
There are other potential downsides: Ryan is a creature of Congress, even as he distinguished himself in that body. Now Romney is bound to the wildly disliked legislature. You can’t triangulate when you’re tethered. And for better or worse, they’re tethered now.
THIS IDIOT writer for The AP took advantage of the Ryan-mania to beat up Sarah Palin ONE MORE TIME — suggesting that SHE killed John McCain’s candidacy. (Everything I saw suggested that she made the race a lot closer than it would have been if left totally to Team McCain.)
North Carolina blogger Jeff Taylor, who has written for The John Locke Foundation, sees a lot of Dole-Kemp ’96 in Romney-Ryan ’12 and doesn’t liek it:
I don’t get it. How can fiscal conservatives fall for this again?
GOP nominee hostile-to-indifferent to shrinking the size of government has trouble exciting his conservative base, parts of which remain entranced by an outsider’s message of reform and radical change. Campaign opts for halfway step of giving the veep slot to a younger darling of the conservative press corps, who gives tremendous speeches laden with all the right touches and has produced voluminous plans for some governmental reform not all of which come to pass and are nonetheless mixed with a firm belief that an activist government can be a force for good.
What am I missing? Jack Kemp was Bob Dole’s response to Steve Forbes. Ryan, Romney, Ron Paul. Then it just gets downright creepy when you notice that Ryan’s support of TARP dovetails nicely with his former boss and mentor’s relentless shilling for Fannie, Freddie, and a more permissive lending environment. And you could argue that Ryan’s resume lacks anything like a Kemp-Roth tax cut but does include a vote for Medicare Part D, making the excitement over his selection even more baffling.
But if you want completely insane, try the comparisons of Ryan to Ronald Reagan. Ryan is a policy wonk devoid of any private sector experience. Reagan’s radio and acting career was live and without a net. Hosting General Electric Theater meant touring GE plants for weeks on end, giving speeches. The small overlap is that both men are telegenic, energetic, and by almost all accounts likable in person.
If form holds the elements of Ryan that so delight fiscal conservatives — some tweaking of the entitlement time bomb — will gradually get scrubbed away by Camp Romney. All that will be left will be memories. Again.
I am seeing signs from establishment Republicans that suggest Taylor may have a point. There’s already a lot of whining about how Ryan will cost the GOP ticket Florida because of his suggestions on reforming Medicare. During the Romney-Ryan tour of North Carolina, Pat McCrory was peppered with questions from the media about whether he supports Ryan’s entitlement reform ideas. The GOP gubernatorial nominee tried to dodge questions, but ended up blurting out: “I support the Romney plan.”
Democrats are already on Twitter suggesting that this was McCrory’s attempt to distance himself from the conservative VP pick. (A better, more courageous answer from McCrory would have been something along the lines of: “What has been going on since January 2009 has been a disaster — a nightmare. I support ANYTHING that turns the nation around 180 degrees and gets us back on track.” But, hey, it’s hard to expect courage from a guy who went into hiding on Chick-fil-A appreciation day.)
El Rushbo — hardly a Romney cheerleader — appears to like what he sees in the Ryan pick:
No, no, I was not surprised. I actually wasn’t surprised by this. Folks, I gotta tell you something. I’ve been trying to think, honestly, objectively think the whole weekend. And I’m gonna ask you. Maybe I’m forgetting something. I don’t recall a vice presidential pick which has so energized the party. I don’t remember a vice presidential pick that has so energized a campaign as this choice of Paul Ryan.
These crowds, these standing-room-only crowds, the enthusiasm at these rallies, something about this, just a gut feeling I have. I don’t want to attach too much to it because it was gonna happen anyway, a vice presidential pick, but I’ve been thinking about this all weekend long. I go back and forth, the positives, the negatives, the strict political science analysis of it. Then you compare that with just the gut feel, and you come away with… at least I have come away with the following conclusion. This is it. This election, we’ve said it before and others have said it, but this is ball game.
If Barack Obama gets four more years, I really don’t think that the American people have any idea what’s in store for them. I don’t think, particularly a lot of Obama supporters, I don’t think they have any idea what’s in store. I don’t think they have any idea what’s in store for this country if Obama gets another four years. In fact, I think there are probably a lot of Republican voters who don’t really understand. They’re closer to understanding it than, say, Democrat voters and people that are not paying much attention. I think that’s one of the reasons for all the enthusiasm.
So we’re gonna face this head on. I was praying — you know, you’ve been listening — I was praying that at some point this campaign becomes one of ideology, one of ideas, one of principles, not just policy analysis, not just Electoral College analysis, but principles and ideas. I think they work. I think they have the ability, properly articulated, to be persuasive. And we have perhaps the best Republican to do that in Paul Ryan. I think the pick signals that the decision was made somewhere that we’re going to go head first up against. We’re not gonna skirt it with a traditional campaign. We’re gonna take it straight to them and we’re gonna win or we’re gonna lose articulating exactly who we are and exactly what we believe and exactly what our vision for America is. Ryan can do that, and I don’t know how much you paid attention over the weekend, but the presence of Paul Ryan on a stage with Romney has elevated Romney. It has energized Romney. […]