Former National Review editor John O’Sullivan has got me wondering: do I have as many as 10 thoughts on Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan as his running mate? (And O’Sullivan’s are only “initial thoughts” — more to follow. For me, this is it, if you will permit me to cheat a little and offer questions as thoughts.) Here goes.
1. The Republicans have a deep bench from which Romney picked: Senators Rubio, Portman, and Ayotte; Governors Jindal, Pawlenty, Martinez and Walker; Governor Christie (a category unto himself); and Rep. Ryan. These are all serious men and women who are making or have made a substantial contribution to our public life. All but two or three of them must have been on Romney’s short list. Collectively they represent a phenomenon worth noting.
2. If Romney is playing to win a close election, the traditional analysis would dictate that he pick a veep candidate who could help him carry a key state. I thought that this gave Portman or Rubio — and as between them, Rubio — the edge. It makes me wonder what Romney is thinking. On what did he base his pick? What does the pick signify? Paul Rahe suggests that the pick represents Romney’s declaration of war, and Professor Rahe is always worth reading. I think Romney has concluded he needs to go big and bold to win.
3. Paul Ryan is a remarkable man. He has made himself a national figure through his mastery of the federal budget. Who’d a thunk it?
4. Like the others on my putative short list, Ryan radiates decency. Yet the Democrats have portrayed him as the man who wants to wheel Granny off the cliff. That 2010 ad is a good measure of the Democrats’ contribution to our public discourse regarding the serious fiscal issues confronting our country.
5. It would be nice to think that the Obama campaign played the murder card a little early, with its dip into the Soptic tank. The campaign now promises a protracted bout of sopticemia. Like septicemia, it’s a serious, life-threatening condition that gets worse very quickly.
6. The Democrats offer no solution to the fiscal crisis we confront; they offer denial and evasion. If they have the opportunity, they will have to inflate away our national debt along with our private savings.
7. We have longed for a leader who would articulate our case — the case for the restoration of limited government — and stand by it. Ryan will help Romney on this score. We look forward to the night when he goes toe to toe with Clueless Joe. Or will it be Ms. Hillary?
8. Quotable quote from Ryan’s remarks yesterday: “But America is more than just a place…it’s an idea. It’s the only country founded on an idea. Our rights come from nature and God, not government. We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. This idea is founded on the principles of liberty, freedom, free enterprise, self-determination and government by consent of the governed. This idea is under assault.” Ladies and gentlemen of the Romney campaign, please expand on this and hammer it home.
9. Looking at the pick in traditional terms, Ryan puts Wisconsin in play. But what about Ohio and Florida? Romney is playing to win not just by making himself an acceptable alternative to a failed incumbent, but by making a positive case through the force of ideas.
10. Revisiting point 5, the Obama campaign probably hit a new low last week in the matter of Mrs. Soptic. It’s hard to imagine the Obama campaign descending lower, but they will now have the use of Paul Ryan to show us how it’s done.