Is Ryan Sacrificing 2016 Presidential Hopes?
My Twitter timeline started buzzing Friday evening with the news that Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan would be the GOP vice presidential nominee. The only reason I can think of for political journalists to begin calling this a “bold pick” is because they have gotten bored with the task of chronicling the rookie mistakes the Romney campaign makes on a daily basis. I am convinced that the methodology behind the selection of Ryan is likely to be as flawed as the Romney decision to refuse to release any meaningful amount of complete tax returns.
Even though I am not particularly fond of Ryan’s brand of politics, to the Wisconsin congressman’s credit, he is one of the few members of Congress who has actually taken seriously the task of being a people’s representative, offering his own solution to the fiscal crisis the federal government faces. “If you’re going to criticize, then you should propose,” says Ryan in a recent New Yorker profile. If Mitt Romney was running on his signature Massachusetts healthcare plan, this duo would present the most dynamic conservative policy positions we’ve seen in decades on a Republican presidential ticket.
The Romney campaign’s embrace of Paul Ryan is a lot like a professional football team that decides to build its offense around the strengths of their second string quarterback. The only time a professional team used to builds its offense around a second string quarterback was when he was a first round draft pick quarterback who needed to ride the bench for a year until he got some seasoning, but represented the future of the franchise.
Nowadays first round draft picks start right away, with such an enormous amount of pressure to perform that many of these players are doomed from the start. The obvious takeaway from this analogy is my own belief that Romney is no longer running his own campaign. In my opinion, the men behind the SuperPAC money on the sidelines have too much riding on this to let Romney continue to embarrass the Republican Party.
I almost feel sorry for Ryan. It must have been one a helluva sales pitch that got him to accept this offer. In modern times, the only vice presidential candidate on a losing ticket who has ever gone on to win the White House was Franklin D. Roosevelt. The conventional wisdom among Beltway insiders the last few days suggested that Republican party power brokers were pushing for Ryan. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the main reasons behind choosing Ryan was his availability - he may have been one of the few candidates with a national presence who was willing to be a sacrificial lamb in the 2012 election cycle.
Many national journalists are even now typing the words “this election is now a choice” between Paul Ryan’s budget plan and the Obama administration’s track record. If that’s the case, then Mitt Romney is merely a figurehead who needs to sit this one out and ask his delegates to throw their support to Ryan as the nominee.
Political activism may get people invested in politics, and affect urgently needed change, but it comes at the expense of tolerance and healthy democratic norms.