Paul Ryan that is. While the Romney forces cling to their “he’s a mathematical lock” mantra, do they ever stop to wonder whether Mitt, for all his manifest good qualities, is the right man at the right time for the job? Or does his campaign war chest, with which he’s able to train many multiples of resources against his conservative opponents, mean that might makes right? And does the electoral calendar — a perfectly arbitrary and changeable set of rules — outweigh (as the Democrats might say) the fierce urgency of now?
In other words, is process more important than principle? Given that we’re dealing with the Stupid Party, the answer at this point is obviously yes.
Ryan’s said he’s not a candidate during this cycle. But it seems to me there’s a profound disconnect between what even the blandest of Rotary Club Republicans is saying about the coming election — “most important in our lifetime,” etc. — and the current slate of self-nominated candidates, only one of whom evinces even a glimmering of understanding what the GOP and the country is actually up against, and his moment passed away in Florida.
Instead, from the front-runner we get patriotic bromides and half-exculpatory statements about the president, such as, “he’s in over his head.” But the fact is, Barack Obama is not in over his head. As Andy and some idiot have pointed out recently, he’s doing exactly what he intends to do — fundamental transformation (be sure to watch the clip at the link) of the United States of America — exactly at the politically permissible speed. Should he win a second term, the brakes will be off, the inhibitions removed and the true face of modern liberalism will be revealed. It won’t be a pretty sight.
That’s why Ryan would have been such a strong candidate. First, the best way to defeat Obama is to match him against another young Midwesterner. With the West Coast and New England already lost to the Republicans before a single vote is cast, the decisive battles will come in states like Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ryan’s own Wisconsin. (Given the bipartisan nature of the criminal organization that runs the state — the Combine, as John Kass has called it, Illinois is probably lost as well.)
Second, Ryan is the antithesis of Obama: uncharismatic but compelling; smart instead of credentialed; serious instead of sneering; youthful but not immature. Unlike the poetasting senator from Illinois with the undistinguished past, Ryan has distinguished himself as a congressman; he knows how the legislative process works and what it can — and can’t — accomplish. He knows that the Framers intended real political power to reside with the people, not in an executive who rules by regulation and fiat. And Ryan also understands that “jobs” may make a great slogan (hey, it’s worked since FDR) but doesn’t begin to address the fatal budget crisis that’s slouching its rude beastly way to Washington.
Third, Ryan is unafraid of Obama and doesn’t flinch when confronting him. The last thing a dispirited conservative base needs is another candidate who will tip-toe around the president’s weaknesses while playing to his strengths. In the debates, he’d respectfully but methodically take Obama apart on the macro economic issues and in so doing alert a largely somnolent public to the looming disaster. With the possible exception of the nomination battle with Hillary Clinton (a struggle the Clintons didn’t take seriously until it was too late) Obama’s never been in a non-fixed fight before, and the result would look like the Max Baer-Primo Carnera bout.
So, once more: Why isn’t Paul Ryan running for president? With a spiteful Gingrich threatening chaos at the convention, the opportunity to step in might seem to be at hand. If this really is the most important election of our lifetime — an existential duel — it might behoove the Republicans to start acting like it.