I am thrilled by the news that Governor Romney has chosen him, for deeply personal reasons. I worked in the Senate for twelve years, five and a half of them for Senator Bob Kasten of Wisconsin. Paul Ryan started out as an intern in our Small Business Subcommittee office, and rose fast; he always struck me as not just a highly intelligent person but also a really decent one. Even his ideological opponents give him credit for his intelligence, so that part won’t be surprising to anyone during the few months leading up to November. No, it’s his decency that I think will really impress people. If all most Americans have heard about Paul Ryan so far is the phrase “Ryan Budget” — usually from someone portraying that budget in unflattering and inaccurate terms — they’re in for a surprise.
Because here’s the thing about Paul Ryan: He skyrocketed from intern to VP nominee in two decades, and yet — even among old Senate coworkers — I haven’t heard anyone express resentment of him. That speed of ascent is something that would provoke resentment in most lines of work, and all the more so in an ugly and creepy hothouse of egotism and ambition like Capitol Hill. That people who saw Ryan rise and rise — overtaking and eclipsing them in the process — tend to be fans of his says a lot about what a basically good guy he is.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Joe Biden — something many of my friends love to chaff me about — so I’m not speaking here out of any animus against the current vice president. But I predict that Congressman Ryan is to going to win the Biden-Ryan debate, and prove that he’s ready for national leadership.