Mitt Romney has selected Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate. This surprised me somewhat, as I was almost sure Romney would pick former Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, or perhaps Senator Rob Portman of Ohio. Ryan is perhaps most famous for the Ryan Budget, which recommended replacing Medicare with a voucher program that would do significantly less than the current Medicare program.
Ryan is a Tea Party favourite for very obvious reasons, and I wonder if Mitt selected him because he felt the need to shore up the right of his party. Obama’s attacks on Mitt’s lack of tax returns and constant assaults over the activities of Bain Capital have been showing some return by driving away white male voters – the heart of the GOP alliance. Ryan seems to be picked to shore up all of this.
This selection will help Obama run against the GOP’s plan for undoing the costly social welfare net that the USA is currently struggling to fun. I am reminded of someone who suggested that the only way to kill Medicare would be to cut taxes and then suggest it couldn’t be paid for, so you scrap it. I wonder if this is the last of those strokes. Medicare, however, is a supremely popular program and it will be almost impossible to run on that platform, in my opinion.
What really makes this seem like a miss for Mitt, beyond the fact that it appears he selected Ryan from a position of weakness, and beyond the fact that it will help Obama move the dialogue from the economy to entitlements, is the reaction I’m seeing. When Sarah Palin was selected as McCain’s running mate, the left scrambled to figure out what that’d mean. When Biden was picked as Obama’s running mate, the right knew that he was a slightly bumbling but fairly statesmanly figure that balanced the ticket. Ryan’s selection has sent the Democrats into peals of joy. Your VP pick shouldn’t excite your enemies. It should make them more resolute to battle your platform and your appeal. Romney, I believe, will come to regret picking Paul Ryan, just as McCain must surely regret Sarah Palin.