Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Ryan Selection

All right, yes, this is a primarily political blog, and yes, we really ought to have something to say about Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his preferred running-mate, and in all candor, I'd rather write about that than about my seemingly unquenchable shoulder pain, so...

Romney's choice of Ryan is a good one, though arguably not the best for purely political purposes. In the usual case, a putative presidential nominee chooses a running-mate for political impact above all other things. Perhaps the VP choice will help the presidential nominee to win a critical state. Or perhaps he's chosen to appeal to a particular demographic. Or perhaps he has biographical characteristics that make him unusually appealing, such that he'll bring increased enthusiasm to the ticket.

Ryan, a Congressman from Wisconsin, could conceivably assist Romney in pinning that state in the GOP's column. However, if the results of the recent recall elections can be trusted, Wisconsin is fated to go red anyway. Still, this will reduce the uncertainties in that regard.

Ryan is relatively young (42), and a practicing Catholic: two demographics that Republican presidential tickets have found difficult to penetrate. However, the vaunted "youth vote" is terribly dispirited this year, owing to its disproportionate economic difficulties, and is likely to be badly reduced from previous presidential campaigns. The Catholic vote was likely to go solidly red from the moment Barack Hussein Obama decreed that Catholic teachings about abortion, contraception, and so forth are forbidden to taint employers' decisions about medical insurance. Once again: Ryan will produce incremental gains, not necessarily decisive ones, in these segments.

I don't know much about Paul Ryan's path through life, but it would appear that it's solidly "American-normal:" no tremendous crises to defeat, no extraordinary obstacles to surmount, just a smooth progression of achievements that brought him the stature he enjoys today.

What Ryan does bring to the ticket is reassurance for the GOP's conservative base. He's been the Right's point man on budgetary and fiscal matters since Obama took office. He's crossed swords with Obama personally on more than one occasion. He represents a well-expressed financial conservatism -- a sincere commitment to responsible budgeting and transparency -- that "movement" conservatives are likely to take as a gesture of commitment by Romney to their ideals. Given Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts, that might have been the deciding consideration.

The one plainly negative aspect of the selection is that as a spokesman for conservative positions, Ryan engenders more excitement than does Romney. Perhaps that's not a terribly important factor; after all, there is a precedent.

Ryan strikes me as a good pick for that reason. Politically, the selection of Condi Rice or Marco Rubio might have yielded more electoral votes, but it's well to remember that not everything in politics is about demographic blocs. Conviction, commitment, and eloquence "on the stump" are at least as important as anything a campaign might do to woo voters according to regional sentiment, race, or ethnicity. I look forward with interest to Ryan's part in the campaign.

1 comment:

  1. I think one potential upside to the Ryan pick is that the GOP ticket will now have a well-equipped voice for the ideological side of the debate. Romney tends to want to focus on performance, which is a valid argument, but the other major objection to Obama is his toxic ideology. Maybe Ryan can give voice to this aspect of the debate, since Romney tends to shy away from it.

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