As James Downie rightly argues, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) “is not a ‘courageous’ choice” for vice president by Mitt Romney. He is a risky pick who, as Nate Silver notes, “isn’t the most natural choice” to be Romney’s running mate. And after reading the coverage all weekend and this morning, the youthful, telegenic and ballsy Ryan is overshadowing the older, telegenic and hollow top of the ticket.
Ever since Romney tapped Ryan, he has been trying to make it clear he’s calling the shots. On Saturday, Romney’s campaign put out talking points to supporters assuring all that “as president he will be putting together his own plan for cutting the deficit and putting the budget on a path to balance.” On Sunday, when asked by Bob Schieffer if he will learn from Ryan, Romney said, “[O]bviously, I have to make the final call in important decisions.”
But the entire national conversation is about the Ryan budget. And with good reason. First, there’s a lot not to like. Second, and most importantly, despite constantly flogging his 59-point blueprint for the economy, Romney doesn’t have a concrete plan of his own. If he did, his campaign wouldn’t have needed that Saturday talking point, by the way.
Just like nature, presidential campaigns abhor a vacuum. Where Romney has been maddeningly vague, Ryan has been painfully specific. Where Romney has been ideologically promiscuous, Ryan has been steadfast. The Ryan budget we’re all talking about now was introduced to the American people as “A GOP road map for America’s future” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Jan. 26, 2010. Where Romney was viewed with suspicion by the Republican base, Ryan is beloved. “Mr. Romney’s selection of a running mate sharpens the portrait of the kind of president he wants to be,” The Post editorial noted yesterday. Right now, that portrait looks just like Ryan.