I haven’t talked about Romney’s Vice Presidential pick because I hate blogging about rumors. The rumors ended today when Mitt tabbed Paul Ryan as his running mate.
While I have a great admiration for Ryan, I think this is a mistake for the GOP. Ryan would go from a position where he has lots of power — he chairs the House budget committee — to a position where he has basically no power. The Treasury Secretary or Budget Director would be a better position for him. Ryan would be more useful to Romney where he is, not handing out mints at state dinners.
To be honest, it makes me more dubious of Romney. Ryan is a pick that grabs headlines, not one that necessarily makes for better governance. In fact, part of me wonders if this is a cynical move by the Republicans to avoid hard choices. Ryan is the only Republican who has proposed a serious plan to balance the budget. It does so by heavily restricting Medicare (entitlements now have something like $200 trillion in unfunded liability). Is this a move to sideline him so that we can go back to the bad old days of spend, spend, spend?
Or am I being too conspiratorial?
As I said, I like Ryan. I like to see him get attention. He will destroy Biden in the debates (good God, that will be fun to watch; like watching the Packers play my grandmother). But … in the end, no one votes for a Vice President. This is going to come down to Romney v. Obama.
Update: The New Yorkers has a great profile on Ryan. He really is an extraordinary person. Here’s what happened after his father died when he was 16.
“It was just a big punch in the gut,” Ryan said. “I concluded I’ve got to either sink or swim in life.” His mother went back to school, in Madison, and studied interior design; his grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, moved into their home, and Ryan helped care for her. “I grew up really fast,” he said.
He took both schoolwork and extracurricular activities more seriously, he told me. In his junior year, he was elected class president, which made him prom king and gave him a seat representing the high school on Janesville’s school board, his first political position. He played soccer and was on the ski team. He joined nearly every school club: Latin Club, History Club, the Letterman’s Club, for varsity athletes, and the International Geographic Society, which was open to students who received an A in geography, and which met monthly to learn about a different country. At the end of his senior year, he was elected Biggest Brown-Noser. (“At least I didn’t have a mullet,” he said.)
His father’s death also provoked the kind of existential soul-searching that most kids don’t undertake until college. “I was, like, ‘What is the meaning?’ ” he said. “I just did lots of reading, lots of introspection. I read everything I could get my hands on.” Like many conservatives, he claims to have been profoundly affected by Ayn Rand. After reading “Atlas Shrugged,” he told me, “I said, ‘Wow, I’ve got to check out this economics thing.’ What I liked about her novels was their devastating indictment of the fatal conceit of socialism, of too much government.” He dived into Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Milton Friedman.
Can we swap the Vice-President and Presidential picks, please?