For starters, the pick immediately energized the Romney campaign, as evidenced by the huge crowds the two men have drawn since Saturday’s surprise announcement.
It also signals a shift in the terms of the race, which thus far has consisted most of Romney ineffectively trying to parry the barrage of smears leveled by President Barack “You didn’t build that” Obama and his surrogates. Romney has seemed baffled at how to respond to Obama’s argument that his wealth somehow disqualifies him as a candidate — an argument liberals never made against Franklin Roosevelt or Lyndon Johnson or the Kennedys.
Romney’s speeches lately have seemed to consist of urging people to vote for him because he’s an experienced businessman and because he’s not Obama. He has failed to draw sharp-enough distinctions between what most Americans believe and what Obama believes, and between where most Americans want the country to go and where Obama is trying to take it.
Ryan is just as conservative as Romney if not more so, and also is unquestionably more skilled at articulating that philosophy. As House Budget Committee chairman Ryan has almost single-handedly made entitlement reform a front-burner issue, and remarkably, persuaded nearly all House and Senate Republicans to support his reform plans. They include his proposal to switch Medicare for those under age 55 from the current fee-for-service system to one in which recipients could choose from an array of insurers. Democrats have gone into “Mediscare” mode and are arguing we should continue to kick the can down the road toward bankruptcy rather than reform our entitlement system. Their preferred solution? Raise taxes.
Ryan also is an incisive critic of Obamacare, as you’ll recall from his five-minute evisceration of it — to the president’s face — during the Blair House summit two years ago. It was a terrific example of “speaking truth to power” — and Obama obviously didn’t like it one bit.
Meanwhile, the contrast between Ryan and fumbling, bumbling, verbally stumbling Obama Vice President Joe Biden is also sharp. Ryan is ready-made presidential material who left many Republicans disappointed by his decision not to run for the presidency. Biden, on the other hand, is an accident waiting to happen who few outside white-wine precincts and campus academic lounges can picture in the Oval Office.
Yes, there are drawbacks to Romney’s choice of Ryan. He’s never run on a statewide basis and is not well-known nationally outside of Republican circles. But his undisputed strengths far outweigh such considerations. As many have noted since Saturday, the race from here on in is apt to be one about ideals. And when it comes down to choosing between Romney-Ryan and four more years of the Obama’s socialist-style politics, we suspect a majority voters in Cherokee and elsewhere will find “RR” an easy choice.