Paul Ryan, worse than Palin

by Russell's Rants

Originally published August 17, 2012

Jeb Bush Testifies At House Hearing On Free Enterprise And Economic GrowthTrue, Mitt Romney’s new nominee for vice president possesses certain attributes that Sarah Palin lacked, namely a wonky intellect and speaking voice that does not sound like nails on chalkboard. But Paul Ryan may actually turn out to be a worse veep choice than Ms. Palin for several reasons.


1. Ryan further delays, and perhaps permanently scraps, Romney’s move to the center. Eric Fehrnstrom, a top Romney aide, signaled that the candidate intended to reinvent himself as a moderate after winning the primary season. But we never got that promised Etch-a-Sketch moment and now, likely, never will. How is Romney going to take advantage of his shape-shifting to attract independent voters if he continues to run as a “severe conservative”? McCain didn’t need Palin to establish his independent, mavericky bona fides, but Ryan moves Romney in the wrong direction.

2. Palin’s nomination gave McCain a nice, but short-lived, bounce in the polls – and enlivened McCain-Palin campaign rallies. By contrast, Ryan gave Romney no national bounce in the polls and was greeted with a tepid response from voters. Romney only got a slight bounce in Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin, a place Obama can electorally afford to lose but will probably still win anyway. And since Ryan needs to be kept away from seniors and more electorally significant places like Florida (see Point No. 3, below), the newly minted team had to split up when Romney headed south. Palin played everywhere, if that was your flavor of crazy.

3. Ryan was Obama’s choice for VP, not Romney’s. Ryan’s nomination confirms that even Romney thought he was losing an election being framed as a referendum on President Obama. But in changing it to a choice-election, Romney fell into Team Obama’s play-book with its preferred – and some would say hand-selected – opponent in the form of Paul Ryan. Ryan is best known for his deficit finagling in the form of the Republican “Roadmap,” which can be easily summarized, and lampooned, as “right wing social engineering” aimed at privatizing Social Security, voucherizing and ending Medicare as we know it and block-granting and slashing Medicaid. When was the last time one let one’s opponent select one’s running mate? At least no one outside the McCain campaign can claim credit, or shame, for choosing Palin.

4. Palin was the first female on a Republican ticket. Ryan is a white, rich guy of the majority religion. Nothing to see here. Move along. And even as the first Gen-X’er on a major party ticket, Ryan is not likely to attract the youth vote when that youth discovers his regressive views on abortion (never, not even in cases of rape or incest), personhood (from fertilization, criminalizing even some forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization), gay rights (generally opposed) and immigration (against the DREAM Act).

5. Palin could see Russia from her doorstep. Ryan lacks even that foreign-policy experience.

6. And finally, did I mention Medicare? Well, let me mention it again. It’s not just that Romney-Ryan would decimate the social safety net that has developed over 80 years since the New Deal. The real issue, consistent with the theme Obama has already chosen for his reelection, is that the Republicans would make all of those cuts NOT to balance the budget (which under Ryan’s plan isn’t even projected until 2060!), but instead so they can give a big, fat tax break to the One Percent. Given the state of the nascent recovery, this may not be a great year to be running as an incumbent. But it’s an even worse year to be running as Daddy Warbucks, or his current reincarnation, Romney Hood.