What Paul Ryan Is For

(Note: This post is NOT part of our current Democracy Symposium. If you want to follow the Symposium – and you should! – you can find the posts here.)

If you read one piece of analysis on Paul Ryan’s ascension to GOP royalty,* read this one, by PM at The Duck of Minerva:

What can you say about the pick but the obvious? Ryan is the most inspiring vice-presidential candidate since Jack Kemp helped Bob Dole win in 1996, the most ideologically pure candidate since George Wallace chose Curtis LeMay in 1968, and the most boyish sidekick since Batman adopted Robin.

Republicans are strangely jubilant today, as are Democrats; we should remember that vice-presidential picks almost uniformly do not matter, unless they are disastrous (Eagleton, Palin) or give us catchy slogans (“Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too!”). But the current flood of punditry suggesting VPs don’t matter is badly wrong…

I’m especially interested in his suggestion that Ryan now becomes the GOP’s 2016 frontrunner (assuming that Romney loses this round). He could be right, but only if Trump, Palin, and Cain decide not to run.

(Gratuitous Internet Nonsense: Paul Ryan was, until recently, the face of Wikipedia’s entry on “Widow’s Peaks.”)

(PPS-Someone should check in on Tim Pawlenty…poor guy.)

Conor P. Williams writes and teaches in Washington, D.C. More: FacebookTwitter, and http://www.conorpwilliams.com. His email address is punditconor@gmail.com.

*UPDATE: When I wrote “if you read one,” I obviously meant “if you read one that’s NOT here at the League.” You should read Tod Kelly’s piece also. 

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17 thoughts on “What Paul Ryan Is For

  1. I dunno, Conor. The veep is the candidate’s first executive decision. The selections of LBJ and GHWB magnanimously unified the party. Cheney and Biden brought age, experience and foreign policy gravity to younger men and made them look good for the solidity of their choices. Clinton’s selection of Gore separated him from the Northeastern Dem establishment, which lost with Dukakis and later with Kerry.

    McCain’s selection of Palin did nothing to assuage the suspicion that he was mercurial if not capricious. Jack Kemp, well, nothing was going to save Dole who iirc trailed in the polls wire to wire.

    Ryan gives the ticket a dynamic, whether or not he swings Wisconsin. His youth obviates the “boring white guy” accusation from [boring white guy] Brian Williams; Ryan is willing and able to refudiate the dead grandmothers and gutting Medicare slanders.

    This ticket is going to fight back. The buzz out there is that they felt they were dying the death of 1000 cuts with this tax returns, Bain gives you cancer, etc. chickenspit, and with the press faithfully carrying the narrative as “news,” the time had come to stop giving Obama value-added on its media buys.

    Anyway, I’m surprised with the choice. I’d admitted that Ryan has a bullseye on his back. But Romney was probably going to take the fire anyway, so he picked Ryan and gave him the gun to shoot back with. The Word of the Day in the rightosphere is “bold,” and it does indeed tell us something about Romney the man himself, his first executive decision.

    Aha. Just ran across this. It’s from NPR, so it must be true.

    http://www.npr.org/2012/08/02/157784723/5-vice-presidential-picks-who-were-key-to-victory

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