Some day we will know the back story of Mitt Romney's decision to choose Paul Ryan as his running mate, but for now the choice doesn't appear to make a lot of sense. Conventional wisdom holds that Romney bucked his cautious pattern and made a bold choice in Ryan, one that signaled his desire to make the race about ideas and issues. That may have been Romney's intent, but so far it isn't working.
Any decent political strategist could have predicted that Ryan's entrance into the campaign would be greeted with a flurry of attacks on his budget, specifically Medicare, and his far-right views on social issues. And indeed, that's just what's happened, putting Romney-Ryan on the defensive and mitigating any real bounce that often accompanies the choice of a running mate. So here's what I wonder: Why didn't the Romney campaign have a plan for this? Why didn't it confidently pivot from President Obama's attacks to a larger theme it wants to run on? Instead, yesterday, we found the bold Ryan in Pennsylvania doing what Republicans so dislike about Democrats: trying to win votes by scaring senior citizens. Instead of explaining how Romney-Ryan will restore the nation from the peril that so threatens their children and grandchildren, there was Ryan telling them that Obama had better "keep his hands off" Medicare.
Maybe Ryan will successfully neutralize attacks on his Medicare plan by pointing out the Obama's health-care plan reduces Medicare payments to providers and insurers. But does that qualify as a win: solving a problem for the ticket that you created? What was Romney thinking?