My .02 on the Ryan Pick

A few more thoughts on the Romney VEEP pick.

My OTB co-bloggers (James Joyner and Doug Mataconis) have already weighed in on this topic, so I won’t say too much.  My immediate reaction is this:  the two groups that this pick will energize are:  the base and conservative pundits (which includes columnists, bloggers, and Fox News).  The problem, of course, is that energizing these groups will not help in the election (of course, the important fact is that it was highly unlikely that any pick would actually help in the election).

The thing that I think, therefore, is interesting about the pick is that a lot of folks who consume only a specific strata of political commentary are likely to be very, very excited and help confirm that one can live in an alternative media universe that does not fully conform with the actual universe.

Ryan is a legitimate pick, although I think he brings Romney more problems than he does anything else (as James notes in his post).

Doug’s post actually underscores what I think is the current state of the Romney campaign:  one that it is in real trouble:

Romney is taking a gamble here, hoping that he will be able to recast the race over the next two weeks and come out of the convention fighting. It could very well succeed, and perhaps the American people are in the mood for a serious campaign about big ideas.

I think it is something of a gamble aimed at exciting the base (but, of course, the base is already excited to vote against Obama, so are they even more excited now?).  I don’t think that this will recast the race, as I think it actually doubles down on existing themes (i.e., the only solutions that the Romney campaign has to offer about our fiscal difficulties is to focus on cutting benefits for the middle class and the poor).

Really, despite the desperate need for the media to have a horse race, at the moment I would argue that the numbers tell us that Romney is in trouble and is actually fairly firmly and significantly in second place (which is a nice way of saying “if the election were held today Romney would lose”) and I don’t think this pick helps at all (but again, no pick was likely to do so).

Over the long haul, I think the more interesting issue is what this pick says about the evolution of the Republican Party and how it will impact the 2016 cycle.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    It’s good in that is creates a real choice for Americans. Do we really want to begin the privatization of Medicare? Romney, by selecting Ryan, makes it impossible to for him to weasel out and avoid the Ryan Plan – it is now the Romney/Ryan Plan.

  2. Modulo Myself says:

    The idea thing is irritating, because the Republicans seem resolutely devoted to avoiding contemplation of the results of their plan.

    The core of the Romney-killed-my-wife ad was the accusation that a man like Romney just did not have it in him to think of the results of an action. Not even whether this action was a bad or good one, but that he, as a human, was fundamentally indifferent.

    And now with Ryan’s plan, you get the same hand waving and quibbling about what people are saying it does to Medicaid (eviscerate or traumatically wound?), while never discussing what actually might occur.

    In both cases, it’s like the hive mind is too busy to deal with actual reality.

    Even more screwed up is the casual pretense that a plan that’s ‘bold’ can’t be all that bad. As if Iraq wasn’t sold on a similar pretense.

  3. al-Ameda says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Even more screwed up is the casual pretense that a plan that’s ‘bold’ can’t be all that bad. As if Iraq wasn’t sold on a similar pretense.

    “At least it’s a plan.” Honestly, I don’t know which is worse, that, or “both sides do it”

  4. Modulo Myself says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I’m guessing ‘Adult Conversation’ will be the new buzzword for the next month or so. So we can all pretend that Obama didn’t actually enact a plan that has a good chance of containing Medicare costs, or that his party wasn’t defeated two years ago due to fears about these costs being contained. No, folks, playtime is over: here are two white guys, in suits, and in a few minutes, in this nice quiet room, we’re all going to watch a PowerPoint demonstration with pie charts showing us what’s really going on.

    I still remember how adulthood was a great big fetish of the Bush/Cheney crowd. Nothing but blissful memories of a frugal and cautious time.

  5. anjin-san says:

    As someone with an aging parent who has serious medical problems, all I can say is “Thank God for Medicare.” My mother went into retirement fairly well off, but she would be nearly broke now if not for Medicare. My wife and I are already providing support for several other relatives, so we don’t really have any more help to give.

    People under 50 don’t remember how millions of seniors had no health insurance before Medicare. They have not had to deal with aging parent issues. I hope they don’t have to learn the hard way.

  6. Loviatar says:

    I think James Fallows says it best about Mr. Ryan and his “Plan”.

    The Brave and Serious Mr. Ryan

    1) A plan to deal with budget problems that says virtually nothing about military spending is neither brave nor serious. That would be enough to disqualify it from the “serious” bracket, but there’s more.

    2) A plan that proposes to eliminate tax loopholes and deductions, but doesn’t say what any of those are, is neither brave nor serious. It is, instead canny — or cynical, take your pick. The reality is that many of these deductions, notably for home-mortgage interest payments, are popular and therefore risky to talk about eliminating.

    3) A plan that exempts from future Medicare cuts anyone born before 1957 — about a quarter of the population, which includes me — is neither brave nor serious. See “canny or cynical: take your pick” above.

    4) A plan to reconcile revenue and spending, which rules out axiomatically any conceivable increase in tax rates, is neither brave nor serious. Rather, it is exactly as brave and serious as some opposite-extreme proposal that ruled out axiomatically any conceivable cut in entitlement spending or discretionary accounts.

    5) A plan to reduce the federal deficit by granting big tax reductions to the highest-income Americans, at a time when their tax rates are very low by historic standards and their share of the national income is extremely high, and when middle-class job creation is our main economic challenge, is neither brave nor serious. See “cynical,” above.

    6) A plan that identifies rising health-care costs as the main problem in public spending, but avoids altogether the question of how to contain those costs, is neither brave nor serious. This is a longer and more complicated discussion (see below*); but I submit that the more closely anyone looks at the Ryan plan, the less “serious” it will seem on this extremely important front.

    7) A plan that reduces, among other things, research on future energy sources and technologies by about 85% may be “brave,” but it’s also crazy and short-sighted.

    .

    Balloon Juice rounds out our picture of Mr. Ryan’s with a quick recap of his deficit hawk credentials.

    B-b-b-but teh deficits!

  7. JBJB says:

    Its astonishing that Ryan has been VP candidate for a full 3 hours now and Obama has yet to call him a criminal or a murderer.

  8. Jeremy R says:

    @al-Ameda:

    by selecting Ryan, makes it impossible to for him to weasel out and avoid the Ryan Plan

    I tend to agree, but he’s certainly trying. From the Romney camp internal surrogate talking points:

    http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/11/romney-camp-prepares-medicare-defense-after-ryan-pick/

    1) Does this mean Mitt Romney is adopting the Paul Ryan plan?

    · Gov. Romney applauds Paul Ryan for going in the right direction with his budget, and as president he will be putting together his own plan for cutting the deficit and putting the budget on a path to balance.

    2) Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have different views on some policy areas – like Medicare spending, entitlement reform, labor, etc. – do you think those differences are going to hurt or help?

    Of course they aren’t going to have the same view on every issue. But they both share the view that this election is a choice about two fundamentally different paths for this country. President Obama has taken America down a path of debt and decline. Romney and Ryan believe in a path for America that leads to more jobs, less debt and smaller government. So, while you might find an issue or two where they might not agree, they are in complete agreement on the direction that they want to lead America.

  9. al-Ameda says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    I’m guessing ‘Adult Conversation’ will be the new buzzword for the next month or so. So we can all pretend that Obama didn’t actually enact a plan that has a good chance of containing Medicare costs, or that his party wasn’t defeated two years ago due to fears about these costs being contained.

    I’m afraid you’re right. However, I seriously doubt we’ll have an “Adult Conversation” concerning privatizing Medicare, any more than we did with the proposed ACA. Conservatives want no part of an “Adult Conversation” about either of those tow items.

  10. al-Ameda says:

    @JBJB:

    Its astonishing that Ryan has been VP candidate for a full 3 hours now and Obama has yet to call him a criminal or a murderer.

    It’s astonishing that you managed to finish your 48oz Mountain Dew and 24-pack of Twinkies and before you posted that.

  11. C. Clavin says:

    Here’s what JBJB said the day after Palin was announced:

    “…Not surprisingly, the pundits and bloggers are missing the key idea behind the Palin pick. Sure, she has an awesome biography, a true libertarian/conservative reformer, gun loving mother of five. Of course her experience at the bottom of the ticket is arguably better than what the D’s have at the top. But I think Palin is going to focus on energy independence, and energy independence as a national security issue…”

    Of course energy independence ended up being the very thoughtful and eloquent “Drill-Baby-Drill”…and we know how the rest of that story turned out. We found out that her awesome biography includes being a loser, and a quitter. So we shouldn’t expect much from JBJB.

  12. David M says:

    So, remember all that talk from Romney about how politicians should have private sector job experience before they go into public service? Add that to the list of things he doesn’t really believe. Kind of how McCain talked non-stop about how experience was so important, and then asked Palin to be his VP.

  13. C. Clavin says:

    Chait on Ryan:

    “…During his rise to power he has displayed an awesome political talent. He is ambitious but constantly described by others as foreswearing ambition. He comes from a wealthy background but has defined himself as “blue collar,” because he comes from a place that is predominantly blue collar. He spent the entire Bush administration either supporting the administration’s deficit-increasing policies, or proposing alternative policies that would have created much higher deficits than even Bush could stomach, but came away from it with a reputation as the ultimate champion of fiscal responsibility…”

    http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/08/paul-ryans-party.html

  14. JKB says:

    @JBJB: and Obama has yet to call him a criminal or a murderer.

    Golf

  15. C. Clavin says:

    plu·toc·ra·cy
       [ploo-tok-ruh-see]
    noun, plural plu·toc·ra·cies.
    1. society that prioritizes the accumulation of wealth over all other interests
    2. the rule or power of wealth or of the wealthy
    3. government or state in which the wealthy class rules
    4. a class or group ruling, or exercising power or influence, by virtue of its wealth

  16. steve says:

    I think people are missing an important element in the Ryan nomination. He graduated from college in 1992. That same year, he went to work as a congressional staffer. Since then, he has worked non-stop as a political aide, speechwriter or Congressman. He has been bred for this. To his credit, it is clear that he has worked hard to master his field of knowledge. He knows the AEI and Cato data backwards and forwards. He is a completely professional politician. He will sound very convincing. I think he will be an asset on the campaign. Since no journalist asks difficult questions, and they do not do follow up, I think he will star on the campaign, as long as they can keep him away from foreign policy questions, which should be easy.

    Steve

  17. David M says:

    @C. Clavin: My favorite before was Mitt (R-Money), but I think there is some potential to work plutocracy in there somehow.

    Grand Old Plutocrats
    Romney / Ryan: Plutocracy 2012!

  18. michael reynolds says:

    What’s holding up the Rasmussen poll showing a surge for Romney?

  19. michael reynolds says:

    Some one needs to Google bomb the word plutocracy to lead to a two-shot of Romney and Ryan.

  20. Just Me says:

    One other positive-the media can’t paint him into the idiot box and turn him into a laughing stock.

    They can attack him, but he will be able to manage pretty much anything the media throws at him.

    That said I generally think the pick is rather moot, because short of Obama outright killing somebody, he is IMO pretty much going to cake walk to his second term.

  21. David M says:

    @steve: There’s nothing really wrong with your analysis there, except that Romney already has all that. Romney at best picked a mirror image of himself, same strengths and weaknesses.

  22. C. Clavin says:

    @ Reynolds…
    Oh but that I knew how to do that.

  23. steve says:

    David M- Not really. Romney spent most of his career in business. Ryan went from college, to the political side of government (aide, speechwriter) to Congressman. I will leave it up to those with a better memory of these things, but I dont think we have ever had a candidate before at this level who such an entirely political creature. I am reading a blog called OTB, and I am surprised that they have failed to note that this is the most Inside the Beltway (ITB) candidate in recent (maybe ever) history.

    Steve

  24. David M says:

    @steve: Biden?

  25. steve says:

    David M- Even Biden spent three years in Delaware before heading off to the Senate.

    Steve

  26. Rick Almeida says:

    @Just Me:

    One other positive-the media can’t paint him into the idiot box and turn him into a laughing stock.

    If I were running the Obama campaign, this is exactly what I would do, and I think it would be easy.

    “Despite being dedicated to Ayn Rand, Rep. Ryan has never worked in the private sector as an adult. Despite a claimed hatred of debt, Rep. Ryan voted for all of the Bush administration’s budget-busting failures. Despite 30 years of evidence to the contrary, Rep, Ryan believes tax cuts for the wealthiest creates economic growth.

    This isn’t a serious campaign, it’s a new stick of lipstick for the same old pig.”

  27. Ben Wolf says:

    @Just Me: Are you joking? Ryan has said plenty of stupid things, and his budgets can only be described as sloppy. The moment this man steps outside the carefully crafted media bubble of his supposed vast intellect, he’ll either crumble or go full on the evasive maneuvers.

  28. An Interested Party says:

    One other positive-the media can’t paint him into the idiot box and turn him into a laughing stock.

    Oh, it’s even better than that…he can be painted into the heartless, granny-killing box and be turned into a monster who wants to end Social Security and Medicare…

  29. bill says:

    i just pray that he and biden have a debate or two- that should be worth it just to see the over/under on how many mind-bending phrases that joe can spew out in a measured amount of time.

  30. george says:

    @Loviatar:

    1) A plan to deal with budget problems that says virtually nothing about military spending is neither brave nor serious. That would be enough to disqualify it from the “serious” bracket, but there’s more.

    That’s about it in a nutshell. Ryan, like everyone else, is just playing with words. He’s no more serious about budget problems than anyone else.

    On the other hand, though I think Obama is better than Romney, I suspect Ryan is better than Biden (not that that’s a particularly high bar). I wonder if both presidential candidates have intentionally chosen VP candidates who are unplatable enough to give any potential presidential assasins pause?

  31. john personna says:

    @bill:

    Here’s one for Joe to use in the VP debate: “Congressman, The Atlantic reports that under your tax plan, Governor Romney would only pay a 0.82 percent tax rate … how does that really make you feel?”

  32. jukeboxgrad says:

    JBJB:

    Its astonishing that Ryan has been VP candidate for a full 3 hours now and Obama has yet to call him a criminal

    Mitt committed a felony. Proof. I’ve been trying to find someone who can explain away that proof. So far, no dice. Maybe you’re the one?

  33. jukeboxgrad says:

    rick:

    Despite a claimed hatred of debt, Rep. Ryan voted for all of the Bush administration’s budget-busting failures.

    His budget also keeps adding debt for another 50 years.

  34. Eric Florack says:

    …whereas Obama has added more debt than all the other presidents COMBINED.

    I’ll bet we’re supposed to forget that part

  35. jukeboxgrad says:

    whereas Obama has added more debt than all the other presidents COMBINED

    A big fat lie. And one that’s told often, which is why I have already addressed it.