I didn’t want Mitt Romney to choose Paul Ryan because I thought Ryan should stay in the House to continue heading up the Budget Committee. That said, this is a bold and serious selection, and I like it.
Some thoughts, in no particular order:
1) Ryan is a serious plans and actions man, and has already shown his mettle in a policy fight. From schooling Obama to his increasingly displeased face (seriously: watch that one and note the cutaways to Obama’s face. Money.) on healthcare reform, to explaining a serious plan to get government spending under control, to dealing with ridiculous demagogues who will say any old thing, he shows a command of the facts, a comfort with his own ideas, and a stiff spine.
2) Refocuses the conversation. Romney’s biggest liability thus far has been his timidity and lack of laying out specific ideas or policy proposals. He has focused his part of the debate on “jobs,” which is good and proper, but with precious few details. Plus, Romney has lost a couple of message cycles by being on the defensive over a few failing companies that Bain bought and shuttered, and the manufactured furor over his tax returns. Ryan is synonymous with his budget plan and entitlement reform. Considering the Democrat-led Senate has not passed a budget in over three years talking about a reasonable budget proposal cannot be a bad thing.
3) Related to the previous point: On budget numbers and the fiscal train wreck this country is heading toward, Ryan will not be outdone by any of the other three men on the tickets. With his time on the Budget Committee he has been more intimately involved in the numbers than pretty much anyone else and won’t need to quickly bone up in order to talk intelligently on the most pressing issues.
4) Related to the previous two points: this instantly makes the vice presidential debate Must Watch TV. The only way it could get better would be if the Dems could have Obama pinch-hit for Biden so he received the schooling rather than the hapless Biden.
5) Obviously, he’s a stellar pick from the social conservative standpoint. Good on life, stem cell research, marriage, school choice, and religious liberty.
6) Is this the first time there is not a single mainline Protestant on either major ticket? I’d bet it is. Two Catholics* at the veep level, and a Mormon vs. whatever Obama is at the POTUS level. Not sure what that says, but I think it’s worth noting as a data point for the mainline Protestant denominations that have dominated our politics for so many years.
7) One report said that Romney picked Ryan more than a week ago. Why not announce it until today? A few thoughts. Ryan may have needed a full week to talk it over with his family and get their full buy-in. Romney may have wanted to wait for a lull in the news to dominate a news cycle, or to use it to change the conversation at a key moment (an early Saturday announcement seems to suggest the former isn’t so, but the spurious “Romney gave my wife cancer” meme would be worth tamping). Ryan may have held off giving full acceptance until Romney agreed to allow him to be himself rather than be “managed” by Romney peeps in the manner Sarah Palin reportedly was four years ago by McCain peeps.
8 ) Hellooooo, religious liberty! A Mormon and a Catholic on the GOP ticket. And I’m not tempted at all to include a “y” in either of those designators!
All in all, this really makes this election paradigm-shifting, and in a good way.
*Biden is Catholic, though he falls into that category who, through his manifest and persistent public policy positions and advocacy, is not *in* communion so he ought not present himself *for* Communion. But we continue to pray that public sinners may publicly repent and become, once more, fully Catholic. Imagine the impact he could have if he were to reverse course and become an advocate for the evils of dissenting positions he presently holds…