You’d think that nationally respected pundits would be offering insight and analysis on Mitt Romney’s choice of Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate.
Instead, liberal pundits are offering nothing but trite talking points about how Ryan’s arcane efforts as House Budget Committee chairman to reduce the deficit and national debt amount to wheelchairing Grandma off a cliff to give rich folks more in tax breaks. Conservative pundits are offering similar talking points about how those very same efforts amount to the only hope America has of avoiding a Greek-style financial catastrophe.
They’re both wrong
Nobody can possibly know how the best-laid plans to deal with America’s long-term debt will fare when confronted with inevitable exogenous factors. Bill Clinton handed George W. Bush a budget surplus and a comprehensive plan to deal with the national debt. Two unfunded wars and a global financial crisis later, America’s fiscal house looks a veritable basket case.
Does anyone recall anybody making a big deal about what Joe Biden advocated as chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations when Obama chose him as his running mate? No. What mattered were the policies Obama was proposing to implement as president, not those Biden advocated as senator.
The only issue here is what Ryan’s selection says about the would-be president who selected him. Recall the many times Romney declared that the most important criterion for selecting a VP candidate is ensuring that that person is eminently qualified to be president on day one.
He repeatedly stressed the importance of real-world/executive experience. He invariably juxtaposed his experience as a businessman to indicate why he’s more qualified to lead America in 2012 than even this sitting president who already has nearly four years of real-world/executive experience in the White House.
Given Romney’s declared criteria for choosing a running mate as well as the indignation with which he routinely dismissed Obama’s experience as a community organizer, college professor, and U.S. senator, you’d think Romney’s choice would’ve been someone with impeccable credentials as a businessman and creator of private-sector jobs.
Instead, Ryan has the poster boy for the very kind of career politicians – with no real-world/executive experience – whom he blames for turning the U.S. economy into what he would have you believe is a hopelessly moribund, dysfunctional mess. After all, Ryan began his career as a politician at the suckling age of 29 – at which time his only real-world/executive experience was working as a personal trainer and driving an Oscar Meyer wienermobile.
The hypocrisy inherent in his choice should be reason enough to vote against Romney. But Romney is exposed as a spineless phony when you realize that the only reason he compromised his own principles in this brazen fashion is to cater to the rabid Tea Partiers who now control the Republican Party.
To be fair, Romney telegraphed his willingness to sell his soul to these right-wing nuts last year when he took a Tea Party pledge during a Republican candidates’ debate to reject, as president, any compromise with Democrats to solve the budget crisis.
The reasonable and pragmatic Romney who served as governor of liberal Massachusetts has been born again as an unreasonable and doctrinaire Tea Partier who believes compromise is a dirty word and that the Lord has ordained that the only way to govern is the Republican way – or no way.
No ‘bold’ pick
Frankly, the only difference between John McCain’s fatally flawed choice of Sarah Palin and his choice of Ryan is that at least Ryan has a brain between his ears. But if being a brainiac on budgets and debt financing were all that mattered, shouldn’t Romney have chosen a Nobel laureate in economics?
It’s absurd that anyone tries to spin his choice of another plain-vanilla White guy as bold and inspiring. I’m sure Florida’s Hispanics who were hoping he would pick their senator, Marco Rubio, don’t see it that way.
Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian native with an international law practice in Washington, D.C. Read his columns and daily weblog at www.theipinionsjournal.com.