August 13, 2012, - 11:43 am
Perhaps I’m belated in adding my two cents on Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential nominee, and I wasn’t going to say anything, but so many readers and friends are asking. It has its pluses and minuses. And perhaps its plus–that he invigorates a tired, boring ticket with youth and exuberance–is validated by the fact that ABC chose to run an hour-long “View Hags Verbally Fellate Obama” re-run this morning to try to blunt the lift in polls and fundraising that the Ryan pick gave Romney.
I don’t find Paul Ryan as exciting as some do, though with him on the ticket I’m now more likely to vote for Romney than throw my vote away on some third party with no chance. Romney could have done a lot worse, and Ryan is not a bad choice. I like him a whole lot better than I do Romney. Still, I’ve referred to him previously on this site as “the P90X Congressman” (P90X is a great, intense, trendy video workout Ryan and some Republicans do in the early morning in the free, tax-paid House Gym they won’t shut down and to which they won’t cut funding–the “they” headed by Ryan). While he is a conservative and not the “safe,” very boring choice Romney could have picked, there are some things about him that aren’t so conservative. Paul Ryan voted for TARP and has been in Washington for decades, first as a Congressional staffer, then as a Congressman. He voted for the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which would forbid any workplace discrimination against gays, including with employee benefits for the partners of gays, putting them on par with married couples. He explained his vote by saying that he believed his gay friends were born that way, but the bill could force churches and religious schools to hire openly gay teachers, against their beliefs, etc. On the other hand, he twice voted for the Defense of Marriage Act. Ryan voted for the massive, bloated Bush Medicare prescription bill that cost over $400 billion in new taxes. Real conservatives opposed that. And as the Republican budget hatchet man, he didn’t hatchet much of anything–keeping in specific tax funds to Planned Parenthood, NPR, and PBS, which should have been no-brainers for the Republican ax. That’s a “Tea Partier”? I guess “Tea Party” means you support Republican wasteful spending, but not Democrat wasteful spending.
People say that Ryan “cut his teeth” at the knees of Jack Kemp and Bill Bennett. But neither Kemp nor Bennett was a down-the-line conservative. In fact, they were downright squishy on much of what matters. Kemp fought conservatives like Ward Connerly in getting rid of discriminatory affirmative action preferences for minorities and women in admissions, promotions, and hiring. Kemp also hired racist, bigoted loon Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam to guard the federal housing projects. And he opposed conservative efforts to enact Arizona-style restrictions on illegal aliens. Bill Bennett shared a lot of those views. That said, I was a Jack Kemp follower (and a Kemp delegate to the 1988 Republican National Convention), and I don’t share his views on these issues. Maybe Paul Ryan doesn’t either. Ryan is a big fan of the far-left band, “Rage Against the Machine.” But I like the music and movies of some far-lefties. Doesn’t make me one. Still, with Romney and Ryan, I believe that we are at the point at which the GOP is like the British Conservative Party, in which the “Conservatives” are basically moderate Democrats as opposed to the Labor Party–our Democratic Party–which is the real liberals.
On the very positive side, Ryan is a marked improvement over and contrast to Sarah Palin. He actually knows what he’s talking about and comes across that way. He’s smart, articulate, and knowledgeable, and he’s not hiding from the media like Palin did. He will smoke Joe Biden in the Vice Presidential Debate, and I cannot wait to see that (and he won’t need to hole up for a week at the John McCain ranch to prepare a la Palin). I’ll bet it will be fun to watch. He knows the budget and the budget process inside out, so he’ll take apart the Obama administration on that topic and related issues of seniors and Medicare. Mitt Romney looks old and tiresome in comparison to Barack Obama. And Paul Ryan will help alleviate that. He makes Joe Biden look like that old uncle or grandpa, who embarrasses everyone at family get-togethers. Actually, even without Ryan as contrast, Biden looks and acts that way. But Paul Ryan will make that starkly clear.
Will Paul Ryan “deliver” Wisconsin or put it into play, as the conventional conservative wisdom has it? I doubt it. He’s only a Congressman, not a Governor. And Congressman–even as powerful and prominent as Ryan has become–don’t put states in play. The top of the ticket does that.
Mitt Romney is still at the top of the ticket. Still dull. And still not really a conservative, but just a flip-flopper who was a liberal and the inventor of ObamaCare, the last time he held the reins of power. Can Paul Ryan change that in people’s minds?
Doubtful. But he’s got the best shot of anyone and will certainly give it a “yeoman’s work” effort.
Tags: Bill Bennett, budget, Defense of Marriage Act, Gay Rights, Jack Kemp, Medicare, Mitt Romney, NPR, P90X, Paul Ryan, PBS, Planned Parenthood, TARP