In Picking Paul Ryan, Has Romney Actually Helped Obama?

Mitt Romney has effectively rebooted his campaign by picking Paul Ryan, but he's also handed the President a powerful weapon.

As I noted yesterday, while the naming of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate has energized the Republican base, there are plenty of reasons why Democrats are energized too, not the least of them being because they think that it allows them to tag the Republican ticket much more easily with the Medicare arguments that they’ve been making ever since Ryan introduced his “Path to Prosperity” after Republicans took control of the House. Perhaps the more significant thing about the pick, though, is the fact that by picking Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has demonstrated that the campaign’s original strategy wasn’t enough to win the election:

In making Paul Ryan his running mate, Mitt Romney is discarding one of the most basic assumptions that has driven his campaign until now: Make the race about President Barack Obama, and Republicans will win back the White House.

Don’t worry about being accused of being empty, or even demagogic, went the theory of the case in Boston: The more specific Romney’s campaign, the more chance voters will be distracted from a simple referendum on the Obama economy. Run out the clock, come off as at least vaguely credible, and don’t lunge for shiny objects that take you off-message.

In selecting the 42-year-old House member from Wisconsin, a man identified with some of the most polarizing policy ideas in the Republican party, Romney has lunged for a shiny object in about the most dramatic way possible.

In this case, the shiny object ­is a sharply pointed weapon: the choice will instantly infuse a sullen, content-free contest with new energy and ideas but it’s just as likely to lacerate Romney by handing Democrats a fresh line of attack.

Ryan’s advantages are profound: he’s young, Rust Belt, Catholic, serious, and – his top advantage – he will bring excitement and purpose to a campaign that had been devoid of both.

Many outside Republican strategists, however, are already fretting that the pick will likely turn out to be political malpractice—turning off independents and older voters, who depend especially on programs that are targeted by Ryan’s budget plan that would cut entitlements.

For now, Romney’s bold move is a gamble that in its own way is as breathtaking as the ultimately self-defeating one John McCain made four years ago with Sarah Palin.

John McCain also made the Sarah Palin connection yesterday when he spoke about the endorsement, likening the picking of Ryan as the same kind of “bold choice” that he made when he picked the former Alaska Governor four years ago. This is probably not what the Romney people wanted to hear because it was very clear from the beginning that the one thin the Romney campaign wanted to avoid was a repeat of the Palin fiasco. To some extent, I think it’s pretty clear that they succeeded in that regard because it’s rather clear that Ryan possesses none of the weaknesses that Sarah Palin did in 2008 in terms of experience or readiness for office. However, that doesn’t mean that they haven’t taken a risk here. If Romney wanted to play it safe, he would’ve gone with Tim Pawlenty, Rob Portman, or Bob McDonnell, the pro-typical “boring white guy” choice that wouldn’t have rocked the boat. Any one of those three men would’ve made good choices for Romney, I think.

Instead, he went with Ryan who, while he may be white, is anything but boring. You wouldn’t hear T-Paw, Portman, or McDonnell talking about a fiscal plan that would massively restructure the role of Washington in the economy over the coming decades. They aren’t policy wonks like Ryan, who many of his colleagues describe as someone  more interested in spending an evening with the Federal Budget than at a Washington cocktail party. Actually, that’s one of the reasons why I figured Romney wouldn’t pick Ryan to begin with, because he can do more in the House of Representatives, or potentially as the head of OMB or Treasury, than he ever could as Vice-President. Instead, Romney did the unexpected, which is in itself unexpected for a candidate who as tried to run a campaign like a well-0iled, highly financed, machine ever since he started thinking about running again for President after the 2008 elections.

There can only be one reason for that, Romney and his advisers decided that simply trying to characterize the election as a referendum on the economy and the Obama Presidency wasn’t going to be enough to push them over the finish line. It’s easy to see why they might have concluded that. All you have to do is look at the polls, and you see that even though the economic statistics continue to show an economy stuck in a stagnant growth phase with little to no real job growth, even though voters continue to say that the country is on the wrong track and that the President has done a poor job handling the economy, the race remains essentially within the same range that it has been for months now. Indeed, some recent polling even appears to show the President breaking away from Romney, although that’s likely to change as we get closer to the conventions. While it’s possible, the likelihood that merely concentrating on the economy alone would lead to a shift in the polls in Romney’s favor, it doesn’t seem to be very likely at this point. So, they concluded that it was time to shake things up by bringing on a guy like Ryan and expanding the economic argument to one that also focuses on the nation’s long-term fiscal problems and their impact on the very prospect for ever achieving the kind of economic growth we need to get the Great Recession behind us.

Of course, by doing that, the Romney campaign also gives the President and his campaign the chance to change the subject:

The selection of Representative Paul D. Ryan as the Republican vice-presidential candidate provides President Obama with something he has been eagerly looking for — a bigger target.

A race that has revolved, at least in part, around each month’s mediocre jobs report and Mr. Obama’s persistent failure to move unemployment below 8 percent will now allow Democrats new lines of attack — starting with the assertion that Republicans are intent on dismantling Medicare — while setting off a larger debate about the role of government in the economy and society.

For Mr. Obama, that seems more promising territory, a chance to press the offensive against his challengers rather than just defend his record. Instead of a referendum on his own performance, the president has an opening to turn the election into a referendum on the vision that Mr. Ryan has advanced and Mitt Romney has adopted.

That strategy may put Mr. Obama, a self-declared agent of hope and change four years ago, in the awkward position of seeming to be the defender of a status quo that is not working, or at least not working well enough. He risks having Republicans seize the mantle of reform that he used so skillfully in 2008 by contrasting his stay-the-course incumbent’s message with the youthful Mr. Ryan’s energetic willingness to tear up the old order and reinvent it for troubled times.

After months of Mr. Obama hammering Mr. Romney’s prescriptions for the country as too radical, Mr. Ryan’s addition to the ticket will sharpen what already had been shaping up as the starkest contrast over domestic policy in any presidential race in a generation. The president and his liberal allies wasted little time on Saturday rolling out their attacks on Mr. Ryan as an avatar of extremism who would cut health care for old people to finance tax cuts for the rich.

“The architect of the radical Republican House budget,” declared Jim Messina, the president’s campaign manager. “Catering to the Tea Party and the far right,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader. “Puts millionaires ahead of Medicare and the middle class,” asserted Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who leads the Democratic minority in the House.

Within an hour or so of Mr. Romney’s announcement, the Obama campaign posted a Web video labeling the Republican ticket the “Go Back Team,” a reference to policies of the past. Fund-raising appeals with targeted messages went out in swing states, like one in Ohio saying that Mr. Ryan “followed in the footsteps of his mentor,” John Kasich, the state’s governor, with “a radical, ideological budget.” Liberal interest groups, labor unions and women’s organizations began rolling out their own long-planned attacks.

The president’s political strategists were focusing on Florida, already a swing state but now perhaps ground zero for attacks on Mr. Ryan’s plans to restructure Medicare, while monitoring Wisconsin to see if the Republicans tried to invest in Mr. Ryan’s home state. Congressional election strategists were mapping out plans to force every Republican candidate for the House and Senate to own or disown Mr. Ryan’s budget plan.

“This is the perfect choice for us to finish our frame of Romney,” said Eddie Vale, a spokesman for Workers’ Voice, an A.F.L.-C.I.O. “super PAC.” “What Romney and Bain did to working families and companies is what Romney and Ryan would do to all Americans.”

Bill Burton, one of the founders of Priorities USA Action, a pro-Obama super PAC, said his group had always planned to devote the fall to tying Mr. Romney to Mr. Ryan’s budget plan, but had worried that it might not stick.

“From the beginning when we polled, we found that the Ryan plan was the most toxic political document ever, but the problem was you couldn’t convince voters that any politician would actually support it,” Mr. Burton said. “Now this actually makes the job easier.”

The Miami Herald notes today that Ryan’s Medicare position, as well as past statements he’s made (since retracted) opposing the extension of the embargo against Cuba,could pose problems for the Romney/Ryan ticket in Florida. It is in possible recognition of this fact that when Romney is in Florida campaigning tomorrow, Ryan will be in Iowa. Republican leaders in Ohio are expressing similar fears about the impact of Ryan’s Medicare plans in the Buckeye state,  and Politico’s Alexander Burns reports on similar concerns voiced by national Republican political strategists.

Allahpundit puts those concerns into words:

I’m under no illusions. This makes winning harder, not easier. Some tough truths: The Democrats are going to flood Ohio and Florida with ads aiming to scare the pants off of seniors and blue-collar workers about the “safety net” disappearing under Romney/Ryan. Obama will now frame the election not merely as a choice between Ryan’s budget and his own plan (whatever that is) but as a choice between the president and, as represented by Ryan, the most unpopular Congress in modern history. If the attacks work and Romney fades down the stretch, that could have huge downballot effects in House races too, jeopardizing the GOP majority. I think the best-case scenario is that Ryan’s salesmanship brings enough people around on entitlement reform to fight the Democrats to a standstill on that issue, and then Romney wins the election narrowly due to voter dissatisfaction on the economy. In other words, it’s both a “referendum election” and a “choice election”: If Ryan can make the choice on the budget a stalemate, the ticket can still win a referendum on Obama’s job performance. But that assumes, per Ryan’s speech this morning, that some critical mass of voters will respond to a campaign that tells them the truth and that ideas beat demagoguery, as the man himself once insisted. Is that true? Has it ever been true before when it comes to entitlements? If Krauthammer’s right that the infamous Obama Super PAC steelworker ad is working because voters don’t pay enough attention to be able to cut through the B.S. in emotionally charged ads, imagine how difficult it’ll be to rebut B.S. on a subject as complex and emotionally toxic as entitlements. Sean Trende, RCP’s elections guru (who’s no liberal, needless to say), argues that not only does this pick make things harder for Romney, it actually opens up the possibility of an Obama landslide. Huge gamble.

I think it’s far too early to say that, but I do think Republicans who are so enthusiastic right now about the Ryan pick, and there is much to recommend about him I will admit, need to be honest with themselves about what this means for the race. Romney is taking a risk, he’s hitting the restart button on his campaign much like John McCain did in 2008. Fortunately for him, he at least managed to pick someone who is competent, aware of the world around him, and able to speak intelligently on the issues. That doesn’t mean he didn’t take a risk, and a big one at that. We’ll have to wait to see if it pays off.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. I think you just spent about 20 column inches defending bigger deficits … because they are team deficits and not (smaller) opposition deficits.

    The “strength” of the Ryan choice is that he can cut taxes, while incurring more debt.

  2. Eric Florack says:

    “This is the perfect choice for us to finish our frame of Romney,” said Eddie Vale, a spokesman for Workers’ Voice, an A.F.L.-C.I.O. “super PAC.” “What Romney and Bain did to working families and companies is what Romney and Ryan would do to all Americans.”

    Ignoring the idea that Romney had no connection to Bain at the time, are we also supposed to ignore that except for Bain’s involvement, the place would have closed 12 years earlier because of wage salary and benefit demands from the Unions?

  3. Other than that, I think Ross Douthat has a better and harsher conclusion:

    None of these three points, however, change my basic skepticism about the pick. This is a game-changer, of a sort: Romney has been running a cautious, content-free campaign, and picking Ryan will effectively force him to become much more substantive on policy, while giving the country the clearest possible choice heading into November. But setting up a clash of worldviews doesn’t address Romney’s most glaring policy weakness, which is the (understandable) fear among hard-strapped voters that Republican policies will benefit the rich more than the middle class. Ryan’s association with entitlement reform is at best orthogonal to that weakness, and at worst it exacerbates it substantially. What’s more, by picking him Romney may have passed up a golden opportunity to take advantage of the Obama campaign’s leftward tack over the last year: Instead of making a sustained play for the center of the country, he’s chosen to raise the ideological stakes.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    I think it’s a very minor plus for Mr. Obama. Veeps just don’t matter that much except insofar as they go to the capacity of the top of the ticket to make sound judgments. (See: Palin. See also: Quayle.)

    But I’m quite gratified since I have from the first maintained that this was not just “the economy, stupid,” and never has been. I laugh at the models alleging to show that unemployment above this or GDP growth below that are reliably predictive. The most predictive model is probably likability. It remains a choice between This Guy and That Guy. And people are coming to see the economy as the new normal, a sort of law of gravity: unpleasant but not something you can do much about.

    Chicago is happy because they’re seeing Mr. Romney’s strategy fall apart with less than 90 days to go. They know it will take Romney’s people a while — possibly quite a while given their leadenness — to tool up a different strategy. And while the Romney team is stepping on its own feet the Obama campaign will hit them.

    The idea that Mr. Ryan will suddenly make this an intelligent discussion of policy is just plain funny. First because the last thing Romney wants is an intelligent discussion of policy. And Mr. Obama agrees.

    We never have intelligent campaigns about issues. It’s always emotion. People vote. People are driven by greed, by love, by hate, by fear, by affection, by a desire to belong, but they are not driven by policy papers. And if they were, Ryan would really be a liability, because the American people are not cold-hearted, Rand-worshipping Objectivists. We have a safety net for a very good reason: the American people want one.

    So, slight advantage Obama.

  5. @michael reynolds:

    I think “Under the Ryan plan Romney would pay no income tax” is astounding enough that it will cut through.

    I mean, six months ago Doug was all “the Buffet rule is class warfare,” and while some (including you) suggested that the Republicans had been fighting a class war, and winning, it wasn’t really tangible for most people.

    Well, now it is.

  6. anjin-san says:

    So now we get to see bithead carrying water for RINO/Obama Lite Romney. This will be good for laughs.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    @john personna:

    I think “Under the Ryan plan Romney would pay no income tax” is astounding enough that it will cut through.

    Oh, man, I agree. But that’s still more emotional than a rational weighing of plusses and minuses. The worst thing for the Romney campaign is that it dovetails perfectly with Mr. Romney’s refusal to show us his tax returns, and perfectly matches up with the Obama campaign’s strategy to make Romney into Heartless Rich Douche.

  8. @michael reynolds:

    BTW, some “inside baseball” here:

    Giving Economics a Bad Name

  9. Ron Beasley says:

    While Medicare certainly needs some changes Ryan’s plan makes no sense. Your going to do away with a single payer that has 3% overhead and turn it over to private insurance companies that have a 20-25% overhead sucking 20% of the healthcare dollar out of health care. Secondly no insurance company in the right mind is going to write a policy on an 80 year old – hell they won’t do an individual policy on a 55 year old now. So what good are the vouchers going to do? So yes, and basically ends Medicare.

  10. Tsar Nicholas says:

    I think he helped out Obama, but that said I think it’s quite unlikely that with this poor pick alone he literally flipped the outcome.

    Then again, if we wind up having a 2000 or 2004 redux the failure to pick Portman or Rubio, as the case may be, could go down in political history as the worst and most ironic unforced error of all time. The same would hold true concerning McDonnell if the election comes down to a small number of votes in Virginia.

  11. Woody says:

    Though Rep. Ryan certainly is an improvement over Palin in several respects, his nomination places his plan front and center of the Republican ticket. And as most Americans don’t obsessively read politics all year long, most Americans weren’t aware of the Ryan plan – until now.

    Even the Halperins of the world – completely focused on their own relevance – won’t be able to evade the numbers – and the choices – in the Ryan plan. The GOP has won many victories with bumper-sticker policies, but the evisceration of Medicare coupled with the top income tax breaks are going to be a very tough sell indeed. I’ll add that the fact that Romney would pay 0.82% under the Ryan plan came out within 24 hours of the veep announcement means that the Democrats are uncharacteristically ready in this election.

  12. anjin-san says:

    I think he helped out Obama, but that said I think it’s quite unlikely that with this poor pick alone he literally flipped the outcome.

    The outcome already favors Obama, and the Romney team knows it – hence the Hail Mary. Obama does not need Ryan to hurt the opposing ticket to win.

    The GOP needs Ryan to fundamentally alter the race. If that does not happen, Romney’s chances are not good.

  13. MBunge says:

    “he at least managed to pick someone who is competent, aware of the world around him, and able to speak intelligently on the issues.”

    Ryan will make out better because he’s been a part of the Beltway for years and the media has been paper trained to cut him some slack. I doubt Ryan really knows any more about foreign policy than Palin and he gets credit as an intellectual by a media that only grades people on their ability to present their argument, not the intellectual quality of that argument. I predict that Ryan’s going to make quite a few screw ups. They just won’t be presented as Palin’s were because Ryan is considered an “acceptable” candidate.

    Mike

  14. anjin-san says:

    Romney Picked Ryan Over Objections of Staff
    Mitt Romney “appears to have picked Paul Ryan as his running mate over the objections of top political advisors, offering a glimpse into the Republican nominee in the most important decision of his campaign,” Ben Smith reports.

    “Romney’s aides have stressed publicly in the 24 hours since Romney electrified conservatives with his choice that the pick was the governor’s alone. They have been less forthcoming on the flip side: That much of his staff opposed the choice for the same reason that many pundits considered it unlikely — that Ryan’s appealingly wonky public image and a personality Romney finds copasetic will matter far less than two different budget plans whose details the campaign now effectively owns.”

    Said one top Republican: “Everybody was against [Ryan] to start with only Romney for.”

    From Political Wire

  15. legion says:

    I don’t know if it _helps_ Obama, but it certainly doesn’t hurt him. There are two main groups that are actually excited about this pick: the punditry that actually made the decision ( because make no mistake-Romney didn’t _choose_ Ryan, he just acquiesced), and the extreme part of the base that’s too thick-headed to do basic algebra and notice that the Ryan budget a) doesn’t actually fix the deficit and b) screws them all to give more money to rich people.

  16. michael reynolds says:

    Mr. Ryan is yet another in the long string of mediocrities hailed as “brilliant” within the GOP: Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, John Yoo, Antonin Scalia. They’re geniuses right up until you actually look at them without the hype.

  17. michael reynolds says:

    @anjin-san:

    Mitt Romney “appears to have picked Paul Ryan as his running mate over the objections of top political advisors,

    And why? Because Mr. Ryan looks like Mitt Romney’s son or little brother. The CEO in the corporate bubble, the Mormon bishop surrounded by people exactly like himself, wants to look in his Veep mirror and see himself. Narcissism and insecurity.

  18. For me, the moderate, the thing that’s most striking is that Obama’s FY 2013 budget is the most moderate of the bunch.

    The second thing that’s striking is that some fairly moderate (but still in-party) Republicans reject it for things much more dangerous and radical.

    Talk abut starting points and resets are rationalization and self-delusion. They are a framework to preserve party loyalty in the face of a bad candidate with bad plans.

  19. @michael reynolds:

    Possibly Governor Romney has a private equity player’s tolerance for dissent, and Mr. Ryan could toe the line.

  20. anjin-san says:

    @ michael reynolds

    A great photo from Fox of Romney gazing adoringly at Ryan:

    Photo

    And if you look at the famous shot of the Bain crew flashing bills, it looks like something from Mad Men, and early Mad Men at that. No brothers in this shot

    The Bain Gang

  21. Eric Florack says:

    Anjin, you really are a magnificent idiot.
    I suppose everyone needs to be something.

    Since truth never seems to affect you, you will perhaps not be interested in what I posted just this afternoon…

    Speaking for myself, I must admit, that my first and enduring reaction, is that the ticket is upside down…. Ryan would be more effective at shrinking government, as President than Romney left to his own devices will ever be. Ryan is in fact more presidential than his running mate. Of course, that was also my reax at Palin as a pick.

    That said, I’ve been saying all along that this election will not be about how good Romney is, but how bad Obama is.

  22. jukeboxgrad says:

    florack/bithead/buzz buzz:

    Ignoring the idea that Romney had no connection to Bain at the time

    Mitt still owns part of Bain, which means right now he has “connection to Bain.” Aside from that, he lied about when he left Bain, committing a felony (proof). So I hope you’ll tell us what you mean by “at the time.”

  23. jukeboxgrad says:

    A great photo from Fox of Romney gazing adoringly at Ryan

    Kind of reminds me of this: “McCain Can’t Stop Staring at Sarah Palin’s Boobs.”

  24. al-Ameda says:

    The result should be a minor net gain for Obama.

    Remember when Joe Scarborough said of Newt Gingrich, “Let me just say, if Newt Gingrich is the smartest guy in the room, leave that room.”

    Well, to paraphrase, “if Paul Ryan is the budget expert in that room, leave that room.”

    For all the Tea Party love for Paul Ryan, they are clearly overlooking the projected results of the Ryan Plan – reduce the top income tax rate from 34% to 25%, reduce the corporate tax rate, increase defense spending, and still end up with high deficit spending for the 2013 period.

    Add to that, phasing in privatization of Medicare as we now know it, and replacing it with a voucher system that shifts hundreds of billion f dollars in health-medical expenses annually to retired Americans.

  25. jukeboxgrad says:

    florack:

    Speaking for myself, I must admit, that my first and enduring reaction, is that the ticket is upside down … Of course, that was also my reax at Palin as a pick

    Some people are so predictable:

    It’s quite similar to the McCain/Palin dynamic. McCain picked someone more exciting and vivacious than him, but this underlined that he lacked those qualities. This led to certain people saying the ticket should be reversed, and now we’re going to hear some of that again. Probably from the exact same people.

  26. al-Ameda says:

    @al-Ameda: @al-Ameda:
    oops …, should be:

    and still end up with high deficit spending for the 2013-2023 period.

  27. Latino_in_Boston says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Michael,

    You’re right about emotion and about people voting. No question there. But Ryan brings those things to the fore, because it’s going to be a lot harder to pretend that Romney’s policies are what they are. For that reason, I do think this will definitely benefit Obama in the long run.

  28. jukeboxgrad says:

    Here’s why Mitt picked Ryan:

    Just One Reason to Pick Ryan: Blame the Loss on Conservatives … Ryan is the way Romney and his aides escape blame for their now-likely defeat—blame which would be vicious and unrelenting—and pin it in on conservatives instead. With only minor historical revisions, they will be able to tell a story about how Romney was keeping the race close through early August, at which point the party’s conservative darling joined the ticket and sent the poll numbers into steady decline.

    Mitt is all about covering his own ass. A famous example is described here:

    Bain promised that, if necessary, he would craft a cover story saying that Romney’s return to Bain & Company was needed due to his value as a consultant. “So,” Bain explained, “there was no professional or financial risk.” This time Romney said yes.

    Ryan amounts to another “cover story” when Mitt loses.

  29. anjin-san says:

    That said, I’ve been saying all along that this election will not be about how good Romney is, but how bad Obama is.

    Which explains why Obama is looking very good in the elector trending, and team Romney is making a somewhat desperate Hail Mary in mid-August.

    was also my reax at Palin as a pick.

    Yes, and we all remember you big talk about how Democrats trembled in fear of Palin and how she was a Reaganesque figure who would transform the American political map.

    In reality, she is a failed reality TV star.

    I have to hand it to you, few people are so wildly, horribly wrong in their predictions and analysis, so often. And I guess you have forgotten that I correctly called the 2008 election, primaries and general, while your forecasts were so off they would have been embarrassing to a village idiot. How did that “Democrat civil war” in Denver that was going to be “worse that 1968” work out for you? Or your flat out “Obama can’t win”? And the last minute McCain surge you called that was going to put him in the White House?

    And the icing on the cake was you boasting about “special inside information” you had, and how often you said things like “looks like I called it.”

  30. jukeboxgrad says:

    few people are so wildly, horribly wrong in their predictions and analysis

    I can’t decide if that prize should go to florack, or bithead, or buzz buzz. Oops, I forgot, it’s all the same person.

  31. David M says:

    I actually see the Ryan pick as worse than the Palin one. She was toxic mainly to people that followed politics, but Ryan will be toxic to a much larger section of voters.

  32. C. Clavin says:

    Bottom line…Romney gave up and agreed to campaign on Obamas terms. It’s not the economy, stupid, it’s entitlements and taxes. And Republicans lose on the specifics of each issue.
    How toxic is Ryan? Even Romney is running away from him hours after picking him.
    And on The Ryand/Wyden Medicare discussion…Wyden is saying that Romney is talking nonsense.
    The only thing the Ryan pick has done is take the focus off Romney’s taxes…but that won’t last. Especially when the Beltway Stenographers figure out that Romney pays zero under Ryans Budget.

  33. C. Clavin says:

    I don’t think you can understate it…Romney changed strategies with less than 90 days to go…and the change was not one of strength…but to agree to play by Obama’s rules.

  34. legion says:

    @anjin-san: I’ve seen that reporting in a couple of places now, and I think it’s a bald-faced lie. Romney’s campaign is staffed by a crew so not-ready-for-prime-time it’s an insult to John Belushi’s ghost, but they’re not necessarily idiots. I predict we’re going to see a cratering come November like we haven’t seen since Mondale, and I think a lot of Romney’s sharper insiders see the the same train a’comin’. They’re starting out _right now_ putting together the meme that this is All Mitt’s Fault.

  35. @legion:

    It is really astonishing that they’d say “it wasn’t us” within 24 hours. Even if they felt that way they were supposed to say “we believe in Paul and what he brings to the ticket.”

    Going off message is significant.

  36. C. Clavin says:

    @ Legion…
    I saw someone make that point on one of the Sunday shows…that this is no longer a 49.9 to 50.1 race…but that it’s going to be decisive now. Given that Ryans plan barely gets majority approval even when he describes it…(lies about it)…you can guess where the race is going.
    Romney’s Economic Plan?
    A tax cut for him…higher taxes for you.
    Democrats are finally writing bumper stickers.

  37. steve says:

    I think Ryan will be plus as the campaign goes on. McCain didnt dare to send Palin on the Sunday morning shows. He can send Ryan anywhere and he will handle the pressure well. Ryan has helped write the talking points the GOP uses now. He is not nasty or prone to losing his temper. He sounds convincing. Few journalists will have the knowledge or take the time to ask him difficult questions or do follow ups. Romney was going to have to start answering questions about the Ryan budget anyway. I predict he will hold out on his tax returns, so this will remain an issue. Therefore, Ryan is a short term negative and a long term positive.

    Steve

  38. Dazedandconfused says:

    Mitt ran a major investment bank. He’s not stupid.

    I’m going to opine that he has identified the long running “Starve the Beast” project for exactly what it is. It’s time for the end game of that stuff, one way or the other. Ryan “sells it” as well as anybody I’ve seen. He believes in it, not just as a plot, but as a plot that has worked, so he openly presents it’s intended results.

  39. rudderpedals says:

    Defusing the floor fight bomb was a win. Short term this was a big positive for team red. Longer term a small negative since the veep really ought to be able to answer the call on day one to actually be President, as opposed to consigliere or clerk.

  40. jan says:

    Yes, Ryan sells the fiscal conservative’s POV well because he believes in what he says, believes in himself, and is comfortable in his own skin.

    He also knows all the democratic rituals of being maligned, taken out of context, misconstrued, held up as the edifice of all that is evil dealing with the poor, as he has experienced it throughout his career of taking on budget issues. So, he’ll just put on his ear buds, don his baseball hat, smile, and let the demagogues blow steam.

    All the attacks that have surfaced right after the VP announcement are nothing new. They are age-old and vile. The main unity provided by Ryan being a part of Romney’s team is to the hardcore democratic base. They will go even more ballistic, while at the same time party/hardy thinking that the election is their’s for the taking. However, on the other side of the political spectrum, and churning in the middle, is another crowd of partisans/discontents who are looking for something different than a frozen economy under Obama. It’s a tundra of nothing facing us in the next 4 years if Obama is reelected. OTOH, door #2 opens up more opportunity, along with new hope and change in an entirely different direction — to the individual, to the states, and to greater growth/jobs by assisting business to either stay open or open up. To many this Romney/Ryan option may look far more attractive, even with the barrage of hate that will be piled on them, than the stale and vacant deeds of the Obama/Biden duet. After all, there is a record to look at now, despite the rosy words both espouse about themselves from the political pulpit.

    In the meantime Ricochet has a spirited article on the Ryan choice called: Declaration of War, as does George will with his article entitled Romney’s Presidential Pick. These two pieces articulate some of what is resonating outside of the OTB neighborhood coffee klatch.

  41. anjin-san says:

    Yes, Ryan sells the fiscal conservative’s POV well because he believes in what he says,

    That explains why this “deficit hawk” was a reliable vote for every budget busting bill that came before him during the Bush era.

  42. anjin-san says:

    and is comfortable in his own skin.

    Indeed

    Politico has an interesting background piece on Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) which includes an anecdote showing his “keen sense of how his status had changed once he won his first election to the House in 1998.”

    A reporter he knew from his days as a congressional aide approached him to wish him well.

    “Congratulations, Paul,” said the reporter, who was several years older than Ryan.

    “It’s Mr. Ryan, now,” he replied

    .

  43. jukeboxgrad says:

    That explains why this “deficit hawk” was a reliable vote for every budget busting bill that came before him during the Bush era.

    Ryan is a born-again deficit hawk who experienced a miraculous awakening on 1/20/09. Until that moment, his voting record shows that he agreed with what Cheney said: “deficits don’t matter.”

    As Larison has pointed out:

    [Ryan] supported adding significantly to the government’s long-term liabilities without making any effort to pay for them, and now he is supposed to be the voice of fiscal sanity?

    Why did Ryan suddenly wake up? A great mystery to ponder.

  44. anjin-san says:

    @ jukeboxgrad

    It reminds me of a line from “Trading Places”

    “I had the most absurd nightmare. I was poor and no one liked me. I lost my job, I lost my house. And it was all because of this terrible, awful Negro.”

  45. al-Ameda says:

    @anjin-san:

    Politico has an interesting background piece on Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) which includes an anecdote showing his “keen sense of how his status had changed once he won his first election to the House in 1998.”

    A reporter he knew from his days as a congressional aide approached him to wish him well.
    “Congratulations, Paul,” said the reporter, who was several years older than Ryan.
    “It’s Mr. Ryan, now,” he replied

    More like: “Based on my budget plan, it’s Mister Deficit, now”

  46. al-Ameda says:

    @jan:

    To many this Romney/Ryan option may look far more attractive, even with the barrage of hate that will be piled on them, than the stale and vacant deeds of the Obama/Biden duet.

    So, the Romney/Ryan “Plan” of a 27% cut in the top federal income tax rate, a cut in corporate income taxes, combined with increased defense spending, resulting in (by their own numbers) huge deficits from 2013-2023, may look more attractive to Tea Party hypocrites who lambaste current deficits?

    Wow, that’s shocking.

  47. Mr. Replica says:

    @anjin-san:

    “He was wearing my Harvard tie. Can you believe it? My Harvard tie. Like oh, sure HE went to Harvard.”

  48. jan says:

    An interesting look back at 2000:

    Here’s an old NYT story reporting THE 2000 CAMPAIGN: THE VICE PRESIDENT; Democrats Say Bush’s Choice Gives Gore a Freer Hand

    The intense speculation that had surrounded Gov. George Bush as he selected a running mate swung today to Vice President Al Gore amid signs that the Gore camp was relieved and even joyful at Mr. Bush’s choice of Dick Cheney.

    Advisers for the vice president said the selection of Mr. Cheney, a 59-year-old oil executive and former defense secretary, gave Mr. Gore a freer hand in picking a running mate.

    Democrats could hardly believe their luck.

    ”On our side, there was maybe 70 percent relief and 30 percent glee,” said James Carville, a Democratic strategist and longtime adviser to President Clinton.

    Deja vu?

  49. al-Ameda says:

    @jan:
    An interesting look back at 2000:

    Here’s an old NYT story reporting THE 2000 CAMPAIGN: THE VICE PRESIDENT; Democrats Say Bush’s Choice Gives Gore a Freer Hand

    The intense speculation that had surrounded Gov. George Bush as he selected a running mate swung today to Vice President Al Gore amid signs that the Gore camp was relieved and even joyful at Mr. Bush’s choice of Dick Cheney.

    Advisers for the vice president said the selection of Mr. Cheney, a 59-year-old oil executive and former defense secretary, gave Mr. Gore a freer hand in picking a running mate.

    Deja vu?

    Yes it is possible that the GOP voter suppression efforts will enable them to steal this election too.

  50. michael reynolds says:

    @al-Ameda:
    Don’t forget he suddenly changed religions, too. Up until 2012 he was an Objectivist. Suddenly he rejoined the Catholic church. Once it occurred to him that following an atheist cult was not great for his career prospects.

  51. michael reynolds says:

    Yay, clueless Jan is back to say things that are instantly disproven!

  52. anjin-san says:

    Hey! Jan is playing the link game tonight…

  53. john personna says:

    @jan:

    You don’t like it when we remember specific policy proposals and analyze them. You’d prefer we just trust them, as you do, because they are Republicans.

    @jan:

    If you are selling “trust them, they’re Republicans” then you probably don’t want to remind is of Bush/Cheney, record deficits, wars, etc

  54. MarkedMan says:

    @steve: Steve, I think you are overly optimistic about sending Ryan into the non-Fox new shows. I’ll grant you that he is capable and personable enough, but he will not be able to get past “Representative Ryan, under your plan your running mate, who made tens of millions of dollars every year for he past two decades, would pay less than 1% in taxes. Is that the Republican vision for America?”

    I give him two, maybe three weeks talking with real newsmen, then it will be exclusively Hannity and the like.

  55. michael reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I’m not sure they’ll let him out at all to the non-Fox zone.

    Romney is already backing away from the Ryan budget plan. I don’t think he wants Ryan talking policy beyond the Fox Bubble because, as you point out, he’s for cutting Mr. Romney’s taxes, which brings us to tax returns, which brings us to why Ryan had to show his to Romney, which is just back down the Richie Rich black hole.

    I’m not sure I agree with those who think Romney chose Ryan to talk policy and sell his plan. I actually think Romney’s decision was not thought through. I think it was, “I like him, he’s just like me,” plus a bit of Romney sucking up to the Tea Party nuts. I guess we’ll see.

  56. David M says:

    @jan:

    He also knows all the democratic rituals of being maligned, taken out of context, misconstrued, held up as the edifice of all that is evil dealing with the poor, as he has experienced it throughout his career of taking on budget issues. So, he’ll just put on his ear buds, don his baseball hat, smile, and let the demagogues blow steam.

    All the attacks that have surfaced right after the VP announcement are nothing new. They are age-old and vile.

    Contrary to Jan’s assertion, the ones doing the lying will be the GOP. First up on the agenda for Romney and Ryan as they began their tour in support of worshiping the 1% was the lie that Obama was stealing $500 billion from the nice old people’s Medicare. This argument makes even less sense now that Ryan has joined the ticket, as his budget also included the exact same future spending reductions, as well as rolling back the new Medicare benefits included in Obamacare.

  57. Jeremy R says:

    @David M:

    Another important point is that the reductions were negotiated with the provider groups and they signed on:

    http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/health_stew/2012/08/the_romney-ryan_700b_disagreem.html

    None of these reductions were financed by cuts to Medicare enrollees’ eligibility or benefits; benefits were improved in the ACA. Cuts were focused on hospitals, health insurers, home health, and other providers. Except for insurers, all the affected groups publicly supported the reductions to help finance the ACA’s expansion in health insurance to about 32 million uninsured Americans.

  58. MarkedMan says:

    Because of my profession, I’m fairly familiar with ACA and HiTech reforms. The amount of work, thought and fundamental change that went into them is truly amazing. Equally amazing is the amount of times I’ve heard someone living inside the Fox bubble say something like “Hah! What a joke! If they really wanted health care reform they would do ‘X’!!!” And sure enough, ‘X’ is in there. But most people against the health care reform acts have no idea what’s in them or what they do. And the Republican party, en masse, decided it was too difficult a subject to deal with so they would just sit on the sidelines and squawk and flail their arms. I think it is fair to say there isn’t a Republican member of the Senate or House who had anything whatsoever to do with health care reform, or understands what it does.

  59. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @MarkedMan: Let me just toss one question at ya: what about the taxes on the medical devices industry? Was that a result of thorough and diligent work and thought?

  60. @Jenos Idanian #13:

    You made me look. It turns out that this medical devices tax is small. It’s one of those things that has to be totaled up over 10 years to be impressive. And further it is there for “Pay-as-you-go,” to prevent the ACA from expanding the deficit.

    Now, I know it is kind of a comic book complaint that conservatives just don’t care about deficits anymore, and will cut taxes, debt be damned … but you are kind of living up to that, aren’t you?

    Now, it would be better (economics) if the tax were uniform and did not target a segment. If rather than raising tax on devices by 2.3 percent, we probably could have just raised the general corporate tax by 0.1 percent or something. I don’t suppose you’d favor that broader cast savings.

  61. C. Clavin says:

    Jan says:
    “…Yes, Ryan sells the fiscal conservative’s POV well because he believes in what he says, believes in himself, and is comfortable in his own skin…”
    Except Ryan voted for all the things that are driving the deficit today…unpaid for Bush Tax Cuts, unpaid for and unfinished Wars, unpaid for Medicare expansion. Now he has dupes like Jan convinced he’s a fiscal hawk when he is a fiscal fraud.
    He’s spent his entire life sucking on the Government test. But now he wants to shrink Government.
    He comes from money…but sells himself as blue collar.skin he is comfortable in…but it ain’t his own.
    Grifters…both of them.

    Romney ’12
    A tax cut for him…higher taxes for you
    I don’t know who’s

  62. gVOR08 says:

    Watching Romney, sometimes it look like he’s not campaigning to appeal to voters. He’s campaigning to appeal to donors. He figures he can buy voters. Haven’t seen good numbers, but it appears Romney’s outraising Obama by about 30%. Not enough of an edge for Romney to beat anybody. Ryan is apparently a pretty good fundraiser with a lot of appeal to the ‘I’m rich, I shouldn’t have to pay no taxes.’ crowd. This may have been largely a financial calculation on Romney’s part.

  63. I caught the first few minutes of Morning Joe. It was interesting. Joe was enthused of course, but he also ran immediately from the Ryan budget. When people talked about Ryan’s proposals he said “OK, have your fun.”

    Viewed in the best light, Joe is taking the “trust them, they’re Republicans” line.

    That wouldn’t be so bad if it related to stated policy. When it is accompanied with full flight from stated policy … not so much.

  64. sam says:

    @jan:

    Yes, Ryan sells the fiscal conservative’s POV well because he believes in what he says….

    Really? What he seems to believe in is shoveling tax cut fairy dust on the well-off in the — all experience from Reagan to now to the contrary — belief that this will magically lead us all into the new economic paradise. He’s a prime exponent of what Galbraith called the pass-through theory: Stuff bushels of oats into a horse’s mouth and then what passes through and hits the road is what we little birds are left to subsist on.

    Ryan has, retroactively, depicted himself as a dissenter from the fiscal profligacy of the Bush administration, and reporters have mostly accepted his account at face value. (“Ryan watched his party’s leadership inflate the deficit by cutting tax rates like Kemp conservatives while spending like Kardashians,” wrote Time last year.) In reality, Ryan was a staunch ally in Bush’s profligacy, dissenting only to urge Bush to jack up the deficit even more.

    “We noticed that the green-eyeshade, austerity wing of the party was afraid of class warfare,” Ryan said during Bush’s first term. “They fear increases in the debt, and they were overlooking issues of growth, opportunity, and free markets.” For those uninitiated in the tribal lingo of Beltway conservatives, this may sound like gibberish. But those inside the conservative subculture invest these buzzwords with deep meaning. “Green eyeshade” is a term of abuse appropriated by the supply-siders to describe Republicans who still cared more about deficit control than cutting taxes. “Growth” and “opportunity” mean tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the rich, and “class warfare” means any criticism thereof. Ryan’s centrist admirers hear his frequent confessions that both parties have failed as an ideological concession. What he means is that Republicans were insufficiently fanatical in their devotion to cutting taxes for the rich.

    In 2001, Ryan led a coterie of conservatives who complained that George W. Bush’s $1.2 trillion tax cut was too small, and too focused on the middle class. In 2003, he lobbied Republicans to pass Bush’s deficit-financed prescription-drug benefit, which bestowed huge profits on the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. In 2005, when Bush campaigned to introduce private accounts into Social Security, Ryan fervently crusaded for the concept. He was the sponsor in the House of a bill to create new private accounts funded entirely by borrowing, with no benefit cuts. Ryan’s plan was so staggeringly profligate, entailing more than $2 trillion in new debt over the first decade alone, that even the Bush administration opposed it as “irresponsible.”

    When Democrats took control of Congress in the 2006 elections, they reimposed a budget rule requiring that any new spending or tax cuts be offset by new revenue or spending cuts. Ryan opposed it, preferring to let new spending or tax cuts go on the national credit card. Instead, he continued to endorse Bush’s line that tax cuts were leading us to a glorious new era of prosperity and budget balance. “Higher revenues flowing into the Treasury, as a result of economic and job growth, have given us a real chance to balance the budget,” Ryan announced in 2007. “The president’s budget achieves the important goal of balancing the budget in the near term—without raising taxes,” he wrote in August 2008. [Chait, The Legendary Paul Ryan]

  65. Rob in CT says:

    I won’t bother prognosticating. I’ll just say “wow” and hope for the best (crushing defeat in Nov for Romney/Ryan). Ryan is: a) a total fraud; and b) pushing destructive policies. I’d like to believe that would be a negative for the GOP ticket, but I’m jaded enough to assume no such thing.

  66. Rob in CT says:

    OK, have your fun

    “There you go again…”

  67. Rick DeMent says:

    @jan:

    Well Gore did win the popular vote.

  68. Rob in CT says:

    This paragraph should, in theory, be devastating:

    In 2001, Ryan led a coterie of conservatives who complained that George W. Bush’s $1.2 trillion tax cut was too small, and too focused on the middle class. In 2003, he lobbied Republicans to pass Bush’s deficit-financed prescription-drug benefit, which bestowed huge profits on the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. In 2005, when Bush campaigned to introduce private accounts into Social Security, Ryan fervently crusaded for the concept. He was the sponsor in the House of a bill to create new private accounts funded entirely by borrowing, with no benefit cuts. Ryan’s plan was so staggeringly profligate, entailing more than $2 trillion in new debt over the first decade alone, that even the Bush administration opposed it as “irresponsible.”

    But it won’t be.

  69. @Rob in CT:

    It is totally unfair to judge these guys on their policies. They are Republicans, and that should be good enough for anybody.

  70. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @john personna:

    Viewed in the best light, Joe is taking the “trust them, they’re Republicans” line.

    What amazes me, is that people still do. It’s like they think the Vaseline industry needs a stimulus or something.

  71. MarkedMan says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: So I was unaware that the Fox Bubble has been focused on the Device tax, I though it was meaningful only to those of us in the business. What exactly are they saying about it?

  72. C. Clavin says:

    @ Rob in CT…
    It should be devestating…but then you read comments from people like Jan…and you realize that list of facts are just Liberal dostortion and lies.

  73. stonetools says:

    My guess is that Team Obama is working overtime creating anti-Ryan ads. They’ll most likely hit the airwaves the week before the Republican convention. The Tea Party folks are going to be stunned to find out that the nice looking Ryan boys isn’t coming for just the brown folks. He’s coming for THEM.

  74. Rob in CT says:

    The tax cut fairy rides again.

    THIS TIME IT’LL WORK YOU GUYS!

  75. bk says:

    Fortunately for him, he at least managed to pick someone who is competent, aware of the world around him

    What is there in Ryan’s background that makes you think that he can even find Iran on a map? He has zero foreign policy experience (although to give him credit, he hasn’t insulted other countries like Romney has – yet). At least Obama was savvy enough in 2008 about his perceived lack of foreign policy chops to pick as a running mate someone who had substantive experience in that area.

  76. bk says:

    @john personna:

    I mean, six months ago Doug was all “the Buffet rule is class warfare,”

    Which one is that? “No hogging the crab legs”? “No sneezing on the salads”?

  77. @bk:

    Indian or breakfast only.

  78. anjin-san says:

    Ryan Doesn’t Meet Romney’s Own Requirement
    While attacking President Obama for his lack of business experience, Mitt Romney told the story earlier this year of a man who proposed amending the U.S. Constitution to require all presidents have at least three years of business experience.

    BuzzFeed notes that requirement would disqualify his own running mate, Paul Ryan, who has spent his life in government as a Congressional staffer and Congressman since graduating college.

    I guess only black guys should be required to have business experience to be eligible to become president.

  79. David M says:

    @anjin-san: Anjin, you’re mistake was assuming anything Romney said applied to anyone but Obama, or even was operative past the very moment in time when Romney said it.

    Romney like a mutual fund: “Past support is not an indication of future support”

  80. al-Ameda says:

    @anjin-san:

    I guess only black guys should be required to have business experience to be eligible to become president.

    Wait a minute: How much business experience do you need to tie your dog to the roof of your station wagon and drive to Canada?