Those who have pulled their eyes away from the Olympics or Mars Curiosity long enough to get some other news have noticed by now that Mitt Romney has picked Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential candidate. I’ve not been nearly as political on my blog as I’ve been in the past, mostly because there’s so much sturm und drang about this election, I don’t want to add to it needlessly. But I figure that a vice presidential pick is a Big Deal™ so I should probably weigh in with at least a couple of thoughts.
• Not a lot of active Republican politicians are national figures, but Ryan is one of them. He’s not a household name, but among the sorts of people who follow politics, he’s famous for the “Ryan Budget.” The Ryan Budget, of course, which he named The Path To Prosperity, is noteworthy for repealing Health Care Reform, gutting Medicare, Social Security, and other social services in order to pay for maintaining tax breaks for the wealthiest 1% of Americans, which is the GOP litmus test these days, it seems.
• Ultimately, a Vice Presidential candidate needs to be ready to be President in a heartbeat. Is Ryan? He is certainly young, healthy, and intelligent. He has no foreign policy experience, never run in a Presidential campaign, and has an extremely thin resume. To some, this makes him a sort of “intellectual Sarah Palin,” a political pick without much depth. Supporters will point out that Obama’s resume wasn’t a whole lot thicker when he was elected President, and Ryan’s just joining the ticket as VP.
• Not too many people vote for a President based on his running mate—however, if someone hates a running mate, they might not vote for the ticket. Let’s face it—the Vice President only has as much power as the President gives them. People realize that if everything goes as planned, it’s an advisory and ceremonial role, and won’t choose a ticket based on it. However, it’s that if everything goes as planned part that gives some people pause. There are those who do imagine the VP taking over, and while they wouldn’t vote for the ticket based on the running mate, if they don’t like the VP, that gives them a reason to vote against it.
So what are my thoughts? Well, as someone who believes strongly in social services and education, I’ve disliked Ryan’s budget since I first heard of it. When it comes to domestic policy I couldn’t disagree with him more, and when it comes to foreign policy…well, he doesn’t have one, other than to nod politely and accept whatever the Republican orthodoxy is saying. So certainly picking Ryan does nothing to make Mitt Romney a more compelling candidate. But I don’t dislike Ryan as a human being, and I don’t think he’s a bad choice. It doesn’t appeal to me, but I was never the target for this move. Romney’s hope clearly is that this will help ignite his GOP base; the danger is that it will also ignite the Democratic base against him.
Me? My mind was made up during the GOP Presidential primaries, and this changes nothing.