I supported you in the caucuses – as the conservative alternative to John McCain, no less – and I’ll vote for you this November as many times as Mark Ritchie will allow me to. If I go into the polls smelling like hemp and wearing Birkenstocks, it might be quite a few times.
But I digress.
My friend Hugh Hewitt the other day broke down your VP choices like this:
- If your internal polling shows you comfortably ahead, you’ll go Pawlenty. He’s safe, he gives you a shot in Minnesota and the upper midwest, and he’s got the technical part of the job down.
- If it shows you ahead but close, go with Rob Portman. He’ll help you clinch Ohio, and he’s a safe, competent choice.
- If they show you a little behind, you’ll go Ryan. He’ll cinch up the base and give you some “zing” for the final stretch.
- If you look way behind, you’ll go for the long ball to Chris Christie.
Maybe it’s my Scandinavian roots. Maybe it’s a lifetime as a Bears and Cubs fan. But I say always play like you’re behind. Pick Ryan.
Oh, I know – you’ve got the same people who gave us McCain telling you it’s just too risky.
It’s really not:
Too risky, goes the Beltway chorus. His selection would make Medicare and the House budget the issue, not the economy. The 42-year-old is too young, too wonky, too, you know, serious. Beneath it all you can hear the murmurs of the ultimate Washington insult—that Mr. Ryan is too dangerous because he thinks politics is about things that matter. That dude really believes in something, and we certainly can’t have that.
All of which highly recommend him for the job.
The case for Mr. Ryan is that he best exemplifies the nature and stakes of this election. More than any other politician, the House Budget Chairman has defined those stakes well as a generational choice about the role of government and whether America will once again become a growth economy or sink into interest-group dominated decline.
Against the advice of every Beltway bedwetter, he has put entitlement reform at the center of the public agenda—before it becomes a crisis that requires savage cuts.
While jobs and the economy are the killer issues this election (or should be; the media in its role as Obama’s Praetorian Guard is doing its best to avoid that happening), entitlement reform is going to the the issue that decides whether this nation remains viable or not.
And unlike most liberals’ and “moderates'” approach to the issue, Ryan’s all about fixing it the right way; through vigorous growth:
And he has done so as part of a larger vision that stresses tax reform for faster growth, spending restraint to prevent a Greek-like budget fate, and a Jack Kemp-like belief in opportunity for all. He represents the GOP’s new generation of reformers that includes such Governors as Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal and New Jersey’s Chris Christie.
As important, Mr. Ryan can make his case in a reasonable and unthreatening way. He doesn’t get mad, or at least he doesn’t show it. Like Reagan, he has a basic cheerfulness and Midwestern equanimity.
And the fact is that even if Romney doesn’t pick Ryan, the Dems are going to try to use Ryan as a negative anyway:
As for Medicare, the Democrats would make Mr. Ryan’s budget a target, but then they are already doing it anyway. Mr. Romney has already endorsed a modified version of Mr. Ryan’s premium-support Medicare reform, and who better to defend it than the author himself?
In for a penny, in for a dollar.
Republicans are likely to do worse if they merely play defense on Medicare and other entitlements. The way to win on the issue is go on offense and contrast Mr. Romney’s patient-centered reform with President Obama’s policy of government price controls and rationing medical care via a 15-member panel of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats.
That, right there, is huge. It’s a message that can resonate with both conservatives (who are sick of playing prevent defense) and moderates (who will, I suspect, respect a candidate who actually clarifies and personalizes the vague, too-big-to-process jeremiads they’re hearing about the issues facing this country.
And Romney needs to cement the base behind him. Ryan would whip up the mass of Tea Party and western-conservatives that have been, to say the least, tepid on Romney so far.
If there’s anything that’d disturb the narrative on this election, it’s people getting “whipped up” by Romney.
Personalities aside, the larger strategic point is that Mr. Romney’s best chance for victory is to make this a big election over big issues. Mr. Obama and the Democrats want to make this a small election over small things—Mitt’s taxes, his wealth, Bain Capital. As the last two months have shown, Mr. Romney will lose that kind of election.
To win, Mr. Romney and the Republicans have to rise above those smaller issues and cast the choice as one about the overall direction and future of the country.
Americans have shown they will come together for the good of the country. Pearl Harbor, 9/11, hatred of the Dallas Cowboys – all have brought this fractured nation together.
Our very existence as an economy and a society? That should count, too.
If we, as a party and a ticket, have the guts to make it an issue.
And if we don’t, then why bother trying to run for President, anyway?
So Gov. Romney – please pick Ryan.
Thanks. And that is all.