The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Finally, a National Debate for Grownups


The first Morning Jolt of the week takes a look at the state of our country and how our current crop of “elites” have gotten us here, Debbie Wasserman Schultz being stumped on the Sunday shows, and then this assessment of a presidential race revolving around the Ryan plan:

Ry Havoc, and Let Slip the Dogs of War

I was a little wary about selecting Paul Ryan.

There was nothing particularly groundbreaking or unique about my reasoning; if you pick Ryan, you pick the Ryan budget plan, and if you do that, you had better be prepared to defend it. Considering how the Romney campaign has had trouble counter-punching or winning the debate on the governor’s Bain Capital years and some would argue that the Romneycare/Obamacare fight hasn’t been the slam dunk we wanted to see… will this team be up to speed on winning a debate over entitlements?

But if this is a selection with an element of risk, it’s a risk worth taking.

Mary Katharine Ham wrote what I thought was the single-best paragraph written on Saturday:

The political press and President Obama alike claim they want a campaign about big ideas, an adult debate about policy differences. Now they’ve got it in spite of, not because of, Barack Obama. With Ryan on the ticket, the debate should no longer be about contraception and the deferred cancer-causing capabilities of Bain investments. It will be about the budget and the $16-trillion debt, the unsustainable trajectory of the federal government and the promises it’s already breaking to generations to come. It will be about Simpson-Bowles and a federal government that hasn’t even bothered to pass a budget since before the iPad existed. It will be about how four years of grossly increased spending has stimulated us into the worst recovery in American history, unless you happen to be an Obama donor or crony. It will be about how creating new entitlement programs cannot possibly fix the ones that are already broken. And, it will be about whether we value an ever more dependent society or an ever more successful one.

You look at that layout of the state of the nation and the contrasting visions and say, we win. Period.

On the flip side, her Hot Air colleague Allahpundit lays out the enormity of the task before the Romney-Ryan campaign now:

[The selection of Paul Ryan] 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. 

Back during the primaries, I was at a party where a notable conservative writer laid out her perspective on why she preferred Newt Gingrich as the nominee, and I’m paraphrasing, but it was something like, “If we’re going over the cliff, I want to hit the accelerator and go out with a bang.”

Now, you know me. Show me somebody who believes they can win by losing, and I’ll show you a loser. I’m not a fan of protest votes, staying home, third-party votes, write-ins, or other forms of ‘sending a message’ that result in the other side – you know, the one that stands for everything we oppose and that enacts policies you and I believe are harmful to the country – in charge of the reins of government. You put the guy who is closest to your perspective in and keep the worst guy out. You push in your direction a little bit each day, and don’t expect to enact your dream policies overnight.

But… like many others, I’ve concluded that this coming election is make-or-break for the country’s future. All in. Go big or go home.

We may lose in 2012. If we’re going to lose, let’s go down fighting.

Plus, the Ryan pick brought back the “Hey Girl… It’s Paul Ryan” blog.

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney , Paul Ryan


Subscribe to National Review