When I first heard of Paul Ryan’s selection as Mitt Romney’s VP candidate, I didn’t know what to make of it, other than the campaign suddenly seemed more interesting. In my previous post, I referred to Mitt as the “stealth candidate, ” given his tendency to avoid the details of his personal history as governor, businessman and Mormon leader.
The Democrat dogs have stuck their teeth into the evasions, such as why he refuses to show more of his income taxes. Every day we do not talk about the sludge-like economy is a good day for Democrats. Well, to change the focus, how about a startling pick for VP ? Especially if that pick reminds us that our problems go much deeper than Romney’s tax returns.
That seems part of the reason the “artful dodger” picked someone like Paul Ryan, despite his having a specific history, often not in keeping with his public image as fiscal hawk, that is already being focused upon and flayed by the Democrats. In picking Paul Ryan as his running mate, Romney moved the focus away from him to our overall financial problems. Also, as columnist George Will wrote, he was “talking conservative.” This was his way to prove to his conservative critics that he is indeed one of them. Sure, he’s been saying for months that he is a conservative, but his etch-a-sketch ways hadn’t convinced them.
However, now that the warm, bonding moment has past, it will be interesting to see if Romney’s habit of not wanting to go into specifics fits with his running mate’s coming equipped with all sorts of details for both reporters and the Democrats to dwell on. Such as the what-will-happen-to-medicare question and what kind of fiscal conservative is Ryan if his plan takes us to around 2030 to balance the budget. Sure, the Democrats are open to counter attacks, such as there is no foreseeable time they balance the budget, but there might be if the Republicans would bend on their no new taxes pledges.
Other than solidifying his base, taking the attention off such things as his refusal to show more tax returns and attracting more money for his campaign (but don’t they have plenty as is?), I don’t see what good the Ryan pick will do for Romney. They want us to believe that in picking Ryan , Romney is not afraid to make the bold choices required in our time, but as I’ve indicated the Ryan image of fiscal hawk will not likely hold up after being gone over with numerous fine tooth combs in the days ahead.
What will hold up is the image of his destroying Medicare as we know it – shoving granny down the stairs – even though for fairness sake it should be noted that at least Ryan has a plan to save something akin to Medicare. It is unclear to me how the Democrats will try to save it, so granny remains in jeopardy in either case. But the Democrats seem likely to win this battle of images. MY CONFESSION: I CHOSE THE PHOTO, WHICH IS TOTALLY UNFAIR, BECAUSE I GOT A KICK OUT OF IT.
Also, leaving all doubts about Ryan aside for a moment, I doubt that the cautious Mitt can continue to reap benefits from his choice. Romney doesn’t want to deal with specifics, so I bet Ryan becomes more like Romney than vice versa, another artful dodger. And if Ryan stays too much like Ryan, i.e. a darling of the right, well, that can’t be good for Mitt, either. The star shouldn’t be upstaged by his supporting cast, and doesn’t it feel like he already is?
Here’s my thinking, at base Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan because like most of us he wants to be liked and he has been running for months while mostly being just tolerated, as the candidate who wouldn’t go away and had the money and organization to just stay and stay and stay. If his strategy of being the Un-Obama had been really working of late, he would not have picked Ryan. But that not being the case, why not go bold? Even button down types like Romney sport a wild hair.
Those old enough to remember Sally Field receiving an Oscar for Places of the Heart in 1985, probably recall that in her acceptance speech she screamed out: “You like me. You really like me!”
Well, Mitt, you’ve had your warm, fuzzy moment. Now I will be curious to see if in November enough citizens overall will show they like you, they really like you.