The Corner

The Choice Makes It a Choice

I am a huge, huge, Paul Ryan fan. So I am delighted by the news he will be Romney’s running mate.  I suspect that a lot of the instant reaction doesn’t take into account that the Romney campaign has almost surely thought this through (with ample focus-grouping) better than anyone offering insta-tweets at 2:00 in the morning. That said, I’m on vacation in Europe where it’s six hours later, so here are some of my very quick thoughts on the whole thing.

The Pros (in no particular order):

The GOP base, particularly the tea parties, will now be even more enthusiastic because this gives them a much more solid reason to want Romney to win as opposed to just wanting Obama to lose.

It shows that for all of the talk of Romney’s timidity and cautiousness he can make a bold decision when he needs to.

This helps Romney communicate that this is a new Republican party, insofar as Ryan is not only young and energetic, but he is eager to criticize the old status quo of both parties.

Ryan will be a fantastic surrogate on the stump. If (and I said if) the upper Midwest is really in play there are few better to fight for it.

Ryan reinforces the message, grounded in objective fact, that the Republicans have a plan for the future while the Democrats are simply about kicking the can.

The vice presidential debate will be awesome. If I had to predict right now, Ryan won’t so much trounce Biden as Biden will trounce himself. All of the talk about how Ryan is smarter and more knowledgeable than Biden will get deep in Joe’s head. Biden’s insecurities will spill out on the stage like overturned chum bucket.

The Cons

This isn’t a referendum on Obama anymore. By choosing Ryan, Romney is presenting voters with a choice between two visions. This may take Romney out of his comfort zone.

Also, if Romney loses, expect a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking about how Romney should have stuck with a referendum-on-Obama strategy.

It may well be harder, not easier, for Romney to talk about the economy now when the Dems and the press will eagerly turn this into Mediscare.

Similarly, Ryan’s resume does not line-up perfectly with Romney’s message about private-sector experience. Personally, I don’t think this is a huge deal. VP’s often round out the top of the ticket (That’s how it worked for Bush & Cheney, Obama & Biden etc).

Also prepare for the Dems to argue that this is a sign Romney is on a short leash with the rightwing base of the party (this is a selling point for the rightwing base!).

What does this do to Paul Ryan? One of the things about the man that garners so much support and admiration is that he resists the corrupting forces of politics. Playing at this level will be a test for him.

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