Heading into the weekend, I’ll leave for publication some thoughts about Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the vice presidential pick whom Right Turn has been touting for some time. In the event Ryan isn’t the pick, what follows will be a historical keepsake.
There are many Democrats and pundits (some overlap there, I agree) who will be puzzled by Mitt Romney’s selection of Ryan as his pick. But it’s no mystery to those who’ve spent time with Ryan and come to understand what makes both men tick.
As for how this came about, I can say that early in the primary season Ryan and his staff worked cooperatively with Romney and his team. Ryan’s effort was not to self-promote, but to urge Romney to be clear and unequivocal in his policy pronouncements. He encouraged Romney to set up the election as one of two competing visions. It was advice Romney was primed to hear, and the candidate’s tax and entitlement reform plans came to resemble Ryan’s to a large degree. The policy views and much of the rhetoric of the two men converged as the primary race continued.
Romney is above all else a problem-solver, a doer and a fixer. Ryan, likewise, is a policy maven who has since 2007 been trying to advance budget, tax and health-care reforms, moving the Republican Party to become the champion of market-based reform. Ryan is a smart man, certainly the smartest in Congress, with an eye for detail and a facility with numbers. Romney prizes brains, precision and the ability to wield numbers. Ryan uses a scalpel, not a sledge hammer in skewering his opposition; Romney likewise uses piles of data to slay his competitors (as he did in the Florida and Arizona GOP primary debates). Ryan is personally and professionally disciplined, a straight arrow with a gee-whiz brand of optimism. Romney is as well.
The joke has been that Ryan could be Romney’s sixth son. He is, to my eye, more the younger brother, the brains and the idea factory for the top of the ticket who will sell himself as the leader best able to execute the Romney-Ryan vision.
The left will be effusive about the opportunity to renew Mediscare. But the Ryan team has been fighting that fight for some time and is perfectly willing to engage President Obama, who has heckled but not lead on entitlement reform. Who better than Ryan to take on the president while Romney sails above the fray?
Ryan has not been a governor or a CEO, but he has led his party and developed an agenda that House and Senate Republicans eventually embraced. He has shown himself to be the most capable conservative in educating the public and fitting specific policies into a bigger theme. That would have made him fully qualified to be at the top of the ticket.
The selection will thrill conservatives, intrigue commentators and surprise, I imagine, the left. So much time has been spent trying to smear Romney personally that Obama and his team may find it difficult to get back to a debate on policy. With Ryan, they will find that doubly hard. Oh, and that debate with Vice President Biden will be a knee-slapper.