Romney-Ryan – RYN

Romney – Ryan, the GOP ticket

Ever hear the theory that books are magic?   If you ask a question and have faith that you are guided, supposedly you can open a book to any page and it will have an answer for you (albeit one you need to interpret, especially if the book is about something very different than the question).

Being a good Political Scientist I decided to test the theory.   While sitting atop my porcelain reading chair I grabbed Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a Big Country,” which happened to be in the little reading basket next to the reading chair.    “OK,” I said to the book and the spirits at large, “guide me, tell me, who will win the Presidential election, will Obama get re-elected?”   I thought about the question, put my faith in the universe and opened the book.

Right away, I saw a big “O” standing alone on the sixth line.   How many solitary O’s are in the book?   The page number was 200 — second term.   Then on the first two lines he describes calling the social security office and having the phone answered after 270 rings.   Get that – 270 is the number of electoral votes needed, and Paul Ryan’s views on social security are likely to be driving Obama to victory.

Well, who can argue with a book that opens itself to a page so obviously predicting an Obama victory?   At this point I can stop following the horse race, rest assured that the spirits of the netherworld have given me inside knowledge on the result, and focus on other things.

Page 200 of Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a Big Country” was where I turned after asking the universe if Obama would be re-elected.  By the way, though slightly dated its also a fun read.

Seriously though, here are my initial reactions.     One caution — in 2008 after McCain chose Palin I wrote a post gushing about how she was a smart choice, published August 30.   At that time I knew about as much about her as John McCain did when he chose her.    A couple days later on September 2 I labeled her a dumb pick.  Initial reactions can be wrong.

1.   Romney’s campaign is in trouble.   Rasmussen daily tracking notwithstanding, most non-partisan polls show Obama with a clear lead, both overall and in the swing states.   Romney’s strategy to try to make the election a referendum on Obama failed; by defining Romney through attacks concerning taxes and Bain, Obama has made the election a choice. Romney is ditching his original strategy.

2.  Romney’s campaign is in BIG trouble.    Choosing Ryan is not just a rejection of his old strategy, but an embrace of a dangerous new approach.    Ryan’s budget is full of political vulnerabilities — the Obama team already was going to try to hitch Romney to that budget, now it’ll be easier.

That is red meat stuff to conservatives, but until now the Romney camp figured conservatives would vote for him because, well, what choice do they have?   Independents and swing voters would be the target, and the plan was to take out the Etch a Sketch and paint a centrist, pragmatic picture.   They would make it vague enough not to piss off the base, but credible enough to convince those not happy with the direction the country was going.

That meshed with the rest of their original strategy – attack Obama, and then make Romney seem like a credible, safe, alternative with knowledge of economics.    In dumping that first strategy they’ve also chosen to make this a campaign about ideas and ideology, something Romney has been loathe to do up until now.

Democrats may be celebrating too early – the dynamics of Romney’s pick are unclear

3.   Romney won’t be releasing his taxes.   This isn’t a surprise, but think of what this means.   Given how the Bain and tax issues have hurt Romney, the only reason NOT to release his tax returns is if he felt they’d be deadly to his campaign.   Perhaps Harry Reid is right (after all, Romney’s denials are always ‘I paid a lot of taxes’ not ‘I paid a lot of federal income taxes’).   Perhaps there are nefarious things involving off shore accounts that would damage him.    In any event, he needs a major change of focus, and the only way to do that is to offer the Democrats a more lucrative target — ‘don’t go after me on taxes, go after Ryan’s budget.’   At least they can respond on that – the tax issue leaves them flat footed.

4.  Romney needs a game change, not just help in Ohio or Virginia.    If he thought it were close and he needed one of those states to improve his odds, he’d have safer picks with Portman or McDonnell.    Ryan is a high risk/high reward type pick.   Romney needs to change the conversation and the tone of the campaign.

5.   Team Obama will try to link the two at the hip – Romney and Ryan represent the same values.   That’s why I have RYN there, taking the letters common to their last names.     This will be meant to diminish Romney (have him either overshadowed by or on a par with his young VP pick) and link Ryan’s very controversial budget and medicare positions to Romney’s campaign.

Will it work?   Was this a smart pick?   My first instinct is yes, it was a smart pick.   Romney’s campaign has been a fiasco so far, his assumptions about what it would take to beat Obama have proven false — and team Obama has been ruthless and effective against him.     This gives the country a real debate about the future and how to respond to the economic crisis.   Rather than a vague “he had his chance, now give me mine,” the Romney campaign will defend their vision.

This will definitely NOT be a Palin like disaster.   Ryan is already tested; he was at the President’s health care round table, he’s defended his budget and he’s been on stage at the national level, impressive and at ease.   There is no chance he’ll bomb like Palin did — Romney isn’t impulsive like McCain, he thought through this choice.   This adds youth and energy to the ticket.

On the other hand, Ryan’s a big target, and Team Obama isn’t about to change the conversation just because Ryan’s there.   I suspect, however, it won’t make much of a difference.   Intrade still has Obama’s chances at 59%, and usually the choice for number 2 doesn’t alter the fundamental dynamics of the race.   While Palin was a negative pull on McCain, it’s hard to remember when a VP choice really made a difference in a positive direction.   One reason this could be different is because it’s more than a change in personnel, it’s a change in strategy.   The campaign just got more interesting.

So, we have our tickets:  Obama-Biden vs. Romney-Ryan.

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  1. #1 by Norbrook on August 12, 2012 - 15:28

    I’d call it a change in strategy, if Romney had demonstrated he had one to begin with.

  2. #2 by Jeff Fordham on August 12, 2012 - 15:58

    The selection of Ryan may only bring back a few pissed off Republicans who hated Romney enough to sit this one out……..This is not a primary fight for Christs sake. Romney needs to desperately win over the center right and center left independent swing voters….or a substantial number of Latino and women voters. This pick does nothing to help that fact. It seems as though Romney did this to stop the leak of base voters who were leaving after the fiasco of the last 4 weeks, and to polish his fake claim of being a “serious conservative”. The issues will still dog him of tax returns, off shore accounts, and his record as governor of Mass.

    As for Paul Ryan, I have been screaming for the past two years about him being the biggest hypocritical fraud of the Republican party. His sudden passion for fiscal discipline is only matched by his hypocritical Ayn Randian bravado.

    FACT:
    The Ryan family’s construction company which was started by his great grandfather in the late 1800s had the most monumental growth during the public works bonanza of the 1950s. There wasn’t a road, a bridge, a government building (state or federal) that didn’t have part or all of it built by the Ryan family businesses. They were so large and omnipresent in the industry that they gained the nickname “the Irish Mafia” in Wisconsin. So when you hear that Paul Ryan and family “Built that” just remember that the wealth and empire they enjoy today had a lot to do with tax payer largesse through government. The Ryan family construction tentacles now stretch nationwide and involve everything from well fracking for gas, to airport security.

    His father was a very prominent attorney who… of course…was involved in the business. He died of a heart attack at the age of 52, which allowed poor Pauly to collect Social Security death beni’s which he banked to pay for his college costs. …..”Thank you taxpayer funded social programs”,,,,but shhhhhhhh on that one.

    FACTS ON RYAN SPENDING:

    voted for the Iraq War – rounding out at 1 trillion dollars thus far, final cost expected to be 1.9 to 2.4 trillion after interest paid on borrowed money, and caring for injured veterans

    voted for Medicare Part D – over 850 + billion thus far

    voted for the unfunded Bush Tax Cuts – roughly 1 trillion thus far

    voted for TARP aka bailouts – roughly 1 trillion (though most has been paid back to date)

    voted for the creation of the TSA – costs about 8 billion a year.

    voted for the creation of the Department of Homeland Security – costs about 60 billion a year

    Voted twice to raise the debt ceiling and not saying a peep about it.

    link to debt ceiling votes by Ryan
    Vote number one : http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2002/roll279.xml
    Vote number two : http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2004/roll536.xml

    Ryan recently told an interviewer that while he voted for pork during the Bush years……..he really didn’t want to, but was ” forced” to tow the party line. Maybe he means he was retroactively forced to say he was forced ?

    I could go on about the inconsistencies of Ryan and the fact that since graduating college 20 years ago that he’s been employed by “government” but that would just add to the heap of anti Ayn Randian facts that surround Ryan in his bubble of hypocrisy.

    Let me quote Salon.com this morning:

    ” Thus Paul Ryan represents the fakery at the heart of the Republican project today. It starts with the contradiction that Mr. Free Enterprise has spent his life in the bosom of government, enjoying the added protection of wingnut welfare benefactors like the Koch brothers. ”

    “The man who wants to make the world safe for swashbuckling, risk-taking capitalists hasn’t spent a day at economic risk in his entire life.”

    “The other component of GOP fakery Ryan exemplifies is the notion that a pampered scion of a construction empire who has spent his life supported by government somehow represents the “white working class,” by virtue of the demographics of his gradually gerrymandered blue collar district. Guys like Ryan (and his Irish Catholic GOP confrere Pat Buchanan) somehow become the political face of the white working class when they never spent a day in that class in their life. Their only tether to it is their remarkable ability to tap into the economic anxiety of working class whites and steer it toward paranoia that their troubles are the fault of “other” people – the slackers and the moochers, Ayn Rand’s famous “parasites.”

    enough said

    http://www.salon.com/2012/08/12/paul_ryan_randian_poseur/singleton/

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