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August 11, 2012 / Political Fluency

Liberals and Conservatives Rejoice! It’s Paul Ryan!

Mitt Romney is doubling down with a bold choice of a running mate just like Bill Clinton did; the last man to defeat an incumbent President back in 1992. At the time, the Democrats had lost the previous 3 Presidential elections very badly. With the most recent 2 nominees for the party in 1988 and 1984 being northern liberals from Massachusetts and Minnesota, Bill Clinton as an Arkansas governor chose a fellow moderate in the youthful southern Senator Al Gore from Tennessee. This re-branded the Democrat party as “New Democrats” emphasizing the party’s Jacksonian roots in the south along with the promise to restore the economy from the recession it was trying to recover from.

Now the Republican party has been re-branded to its small government roots as the party of fiscal conservatism with the promise to restore the economy from the current recession it is trying to recover from. A brand that was lost in the expansion of the government under George W. Bush and Republican congressional majorities from 2001 to 2006.

I cannot stand the phrase “this is the most important election of our lifetime” that has been used to describe every election in my lifetime. But Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan has changed this election into the most important election of my lifetime. If Romney/Ryan loses, then enough of Obamacare will be implemented that alone it will increase the debt by almost $1 trillion within the next decade and more importantly, neither party will offer a any sort of real plans to reform the drastically underfunded entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security that are the main drivers of our debt – the enormous size of which threatens the financial stability of our nation’s future.

Liberals think that tackling these “third rails” will fry the Romney campaign by turning off too many voters who are dependent on them. Conservatives think that they have the most articulate pair of candidates to explain their economic philosophy in 30 years.

Who is Paul Ryan?

In short, he is one of the intellectual leaders of the conservative movement with a deep understanding of free market economics and a, if not the, future leader of the Republican party. He created a budget plan known as the Path to Prosperity which reforms entitlements with an emphasis on a complete overhauling of the Medicare system for those under 55 years of age from a government payer program into more of a privatized program the way most people in America are covered.

And you can click here.

Why Now?

If this means the micro view “Why did he reveal Paul Ryan on August 11th, the last Saturday of the Summer Olympics, instead of a different day between Santorum dropping out in April and August 25th on the weekend before the Republican National Convention?” Then my guess would be there is buzz for the pick even with the Olympics just about over and this gives the Republicans a chance to hear the Democrats and Obama campaign’s talking points against Ryan in order to rebut them in full through many different speakers at the Convention before embarking on the rest of the campaign.

From a macro view of “Why take one of the most promising young leaders of the conservative movement and put him on a national ticket 4-12 years too soon in a spot typically reserved for Governors and Senators?”

Here I’ll do a little less guessing. Mitt Romney is saying “I am giving you the future today. We are not kicking the can down the road. We keep talking about making hard choices at some point. Now is that point. As a businessman who has turned around failing companies and the financial disaster of the Olympics, I’ve found the guy in Washington with the plan to turn around this failing economy and the financial disaster of our national debt.”

Why Him?

There’s a lot more to say here, but for now let’s go back to the last bold VP choice: John McCain picking little-known Sarah Palin in a year Democrats were expected to win big. I have somewhat of a conspiracy theory about McCain’s candidacy that will illuminate Romney’s reason for choosing Ryan. Back in 2008, I believe McCain’s main goal as President was to spend whatever it took, $500 billion to maybe even a trillion dollars, to kill Osama bin Laden and be known as The Man Who Got Bin Laden. He also wanted Joe Lieberman to be his running mate. Lieberman was always a close friend of McCain and he thought having the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee of 2000 as the Republican Vice Presidential nominee in 2008 would emphasize how liberal Obama was as a candidate.* Of course he ended up choosing Sarah Palin, a pick that he never seemed comfortable with especially when she took up a lot of campaign resources to rein in as she went “rogue.”

But McCain’s campaign became a train wreck after the financial collapse that began on September 15, 2008 – 3 weeks after picking Palin who did not have the economic expertise that potential running mate Mitt Romney had.  In the ensuing 7 weeks leading up to the election it was clear that the next President would have to deal with a great economic crisis which I believe McCain was not interested in managing at all as President. He realized that the resources needed to focus on getting bin Laden would instead be focused on financial matters. It was during this crisis that McCain “ran a terrible campaign” and was “a horrible candidate” that revisionist pundits remember from 2008 as opposed to McCain’s inexplicable polling lead over Obama in the first half of September.

Likewise, Mitt Romney is showing he is only interested in winning this election with a mandate to be the CEO of USA, Inc. He wants to turn the finances of the country around in the same way he attempted to turnaround private businesses when Bain invested in them. He isn’t interested in pundits questioning his mandate to make major cuts to the size and scope of government at every turn had he and a different running mate kept the campaign muted and ended up sneaking out a win by focusing on Obama and keeping Republican intentions vague.

With Obama in a slight lead in a political environment Romney should be winning in, Romney did the right thing waiting until August to select his running mate where he could have a 90 day window to see more clearly the state of the race and it indicated a bold pick was needed.

Obama wants this to be a Choice election and conventional wisdom (Romney’s campaign up until yesterday) wants it to be a Referendum on the incumbent. But Romney’s campaign was becoming the Thomas Dewey campaign in 1948 (I was 64 years old at the time) when Dewey was saying things like “The future is ahead of us” and figured Harry Truman’s unpopularity would sink the incumbent. It didn’t and it wasn’t going to this time. The media has way too much invested in Obama for his legacy to be mentioned in the same sentence as a one-termer like Jimmy Carter.

Romney has been greatly patient at rope-a-dope these past few months letting Obama punch himself out leading to gaffes like “You Didn’t Build That,” suggesting that Romney was a criminal in his time at Bain, and not immediately denouncing the ad stating “Romney Let a Former Employee’s Wife Die.”

Romney realized he had to hit back hard instead of settling for a referendum. He’s check-raised Obama over the top by picking Ryan and making this election a choice. America needs something bold in an unprecedented economic slowdown with no end in sight and a high probability it will get worse.

Watching the events with Ryan today there is definitely more energy in Romney than usual. The pair will fend off some attacks while explaining their plan in the next 2 weeks to go into the Convention with that kind of positive “This is Who We Are” momentum and not just a “We Are Not Them” attitude.

The main reason Romney chose Ryan was to explain how he’s not… George W. Bush. Next to Bain, Obama’s main line of attack is that Romney is “going to take us back to the Bush years that caused this economic crisis in the first place.”

Romney has always been explaining how “I’m not Obama because of A, B, and C.” But with the Republican primaries long over and the center of the electorate up for grabs, he needs to say “I’m certainly not Obama because of A, B, and C. And I’m not George W. Bush either because of X.”

Ryan is that X-factor and his plan is a bold alternative to both of the previous Administrations.
It is Romney’s best strategy to win the election.

_______________________

*When deliberating for his VP selection that ended up being his primary opponent, North Carolina  Senator John Edwards, 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry convinced himself that if John McCain was his running mate against George W. Bush that he would win. That was a very strong possibility.

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