Thank you, Mitt Romney. You've eased my anxieties about Obama being re-elected.
I've been worried that you'd choose a running mate who would have a Wow! factor, someone charismatic moderates and independents would gravitate toward, who could juice up your campaign with a jolt of energy.
But Paul Ryan is an excellent choice... to us progressives. I suspect Obama's advisors engaged in some high-fiving when it became apparent yesterday that Ryan would be the vice-presidential pick.
It didn't take long for a "The Go Back Team" website to pop up on www.barackobama.com, complete with horrifying facts about the Ryan/Romney embrace of Medicare vouchers, Social Security changes, big cuts to Pell grants for college students, tax reductions for the wealthiest Americans, and such.
Watch, if you dare.
It looks like Romney has caved to the right side of the Republican right-wingers.
Ryan says what they want to hear -- tax cuts! entitlement cuts! social program cuts! no cuts to defense! -- but this isn't what most Americans want. So Romney has guaranteed that from now on the nation's economy will be a secondary campaign issue to how wise and fair the Ryan/Romney deficit reduction plan is.
Revealing the disarray in Romney's campaign strategy, he already is trying to distance himself from Paul Ryan's extreme budget proposals.
This won't work, because (1) Romney has expressed strong support for Ryan economics, and (2) Obama will keep on reminding voters that the Ryan/Romney plan will make the rich richer and the middle class poorer.
Natt Silver of FiveThirtyEight, a savvy analyzer of all things political, considers the Ryan pick to be risky and a reflection of Romney's conclusion that he's running behind Obama.
When a prudent candidate like Mitt Romney picks someone like Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate, it suggests that he felt he held a losing position against President Obama.
...Mr. Ryan’s controversial budget plan, which polls poorly, will obviously get much more attention than it had previously. The fate of the presidential race and the fate of Congressional races may become more closely tied together. Mr. Obama will no longer have to stretch to evoke the specter of Congress and its 15 percent approval rating. With Mr. Ryan on the opposing ticket, he will be running against a flesh-and-blood embodiment of it.
Taking risks like these is not what you do if you think you have a winning hand already. But Mr. Romney, the turnaround artist, decided that he needed to turn around his own campaign.
Ezra Klein also makes some astute observations about Romeny's choice of Ryan, some of which echo Silver's thoughts.
1. Both Democrats and conservatives are going to get the exact debate they wanted. I’m not so sure about Republicans.
2. This is an admission of fear from the Romney campaign. You don’t make a risky pick like Paul Ryan if you think the fundamentals favor your candidate. You make a risky pick like Paul Ryan if you think the fundamentals don’t favor your candidate. And, right now, the numbers don’t look good for Romney: Obama leads in the Real Clear Politics average of polls by more than four percentage points — his largest lead since April.
3. Related point: Two of the top contenders in the Romney campaign’s veepstakes were Ohio’s Rob Portman and Florida’s Marco Rubio. Given that there’s fairly good evidence that vice presidential candidates are worth at least a point or two in their home states, the Romney campaign’s decision to pick Ryan is evidence that they feel they need to change the national dynamic, not just pick off a battleground state.
So on the whole I'm happy with what Romney did. His presidential campaign has been going poorly. Picking Paul Ryan isn't so much a game-changer as an acknowledgement that the game needs changing.
For activist progressives like me the biggest downside of today's announcement is the flood of emails I'm getting from Democratic/liberal organizations. Each warns of the danger to truth, justice, and the American way if the Romney-Ryan ticket gets elected.
And each wants money so they can stop this from happening. I gave a few bucks to MoveOn and Act Blue, then recognized that my VISA card would overheat if I responded to every donation request.
Anyway, I figure that Romney's choice of Paul Ryan is the best campaign "donation" Democrats will enjoy this year. It'll be a gift that keeps on giving, right up until election day.