Mitt Romney did something that a lot of supposed wise men said he wouldn’t — pick a vice presidential candidate who is more charismatic than he. In choosing Paul Ryan, Romney took the risk he would be outshone, but he did America a favor. He selected the brightest young politician we have.
He also underscored his best line of the campaign so far, “It’s the economy – and we’re not stupid!” No one in Congress has thought more creatively or acted with more determination to solve the great economic problems we face than Ryan. He has virtually stood alone among higher elected officials in the battle for serious entitlement reform, being criticized by none other than Newt Gingrich for recommending remedies that were, if anything, too mild for the monumental fiscal crisis confronting us. But at least Ryan has tried to do something about it. Few others have had the courage to attempt it.
Through nominating Ryan, Romney has signaled that his campaign is going to be about the economy, the economy, and, yes, you guessed it, the economy (with healthcare thrown in as an aspect of the economy). It is not going to be about immigration, marriage, the legalization of marijuana, whether candidates cause cancer, who has a dog on his car, or even who was born where. It’s going to be about the one thing America is obsessed with, the one thing that if we don’t correct nothing else is possible…. Okay, I won’t say it again, but you certainly know.
In choosing Ryan too, he has certainly gone for a candidate with personality, unlike some I could mention. (Why do it now? That’s over.) He also, I suspect, has chosen a man who can dish it out and in an articulate manner. Many of us can recall Ryan testifying in front of Obama regarding the dubious budget for the president’s healthcare legislation and making Obama highly uncomfortable. It looked as if O. had met his match and knew it.
Ryan v. Biden will probably be the hottest ticket among the coming debates. Definitely worth watching.
Of course none of that means that Romney/Ryan will win anymore than it would Romney/Whoever. We are in a high-stakes game now in which democracy and ideas go out the window in favor of vicious attacks orchestrated by David Axelrod, et al. The Chicago crew will do anything possible to push the discussion away from the economy with as many distractions as possible. The compliant media can be trusted to be their more-than-willing executioners in this endeavor.
It will take a great deal of skill and hard work for Romney to keep the election focused on the issues. So far he has not been completely successful. But in this regard, putting Ryan by his side seems a particularly smart move. This guy usually has something to say and, for a politician, something remarkably substantive. The fight has been joined.