The pundits are all saturating the weekend news cycle with their opinions about Romney’s choice for running mate. On the whole, a lot of the voices of the conservative base are happy. Certainly, there are many in the TEA Party who are tickled. And as we might expect, some in the establishment wing of the GOP are concerned that Paul Ryan was not the right choice.
The Democrats are showing different reactions, as well. Due to the strategic nature of a campaign of this magnitude, it is hard to gauge which are sincere. We cannot be altogether sure which of them are trying to play poker and which are playing chess. No doubt there are some who are (at least pretending to be) elated, because they think a wholesale discrediting of Rep. Ryan will be easy. They think that all they will need to do is dust off the “rolling grandma off of the cliff” ad and go from there. But as John Fund from NRO articulates in this essay, they may not want to display too much confidence publicly.
Here is the opening of what is a compelling argument and cause for great optimism:
Liberal pundits are already fanning out in force to attack and discredit Paul Ryan. Michael Tomasky, who recently wrote a Newsweek cover story calling Mitt Romney a “wimp,” has now decided that Romney’s bold move is “a terrible choice” because Ryan has proven himself to be an extremist on budget issues.
No doubt there are many Democrats rubbing their hands in glee in contemplation of reviving some version of the ad that featured an actor playing Paul Ryan pushing a grandmother in a wheelchair off a cliff. But the smarter ones are worried.
Most of us who have followed Mr. Ryan can find a lot of reasons why we think Ryan is an excellent choice—in equal fashion, we can also come up with some valid criticisms. But in reality, we all know there are positives and negatives associated with any choice Gov. Romney could have made. No one is perfect. We also know that we must look at this from a wider angle than the strategists will likely view and describe it. This campaign is certainly more important than just winning a state to get elected, it’s about governing effectively once the election is won.
Mr. Fund highlights one huge reason why Ryan may have been the right choice, in the next two paragraphs of his piece:
First, if Ryan is an extremist and his proposals are so unpopular, how has he won election seven times in a Democratic district? His lowest share of the vote was 57 percent — in his first race. He routinely wins over two-thirds of the vote. When Obama swept the nation in 2008, he carried Ryan’s district by four points. But at the same time, Ryan won reelection with 65 percent of the vote, meaning that a fifth of Obama voters also voted for him.
Ryan has pointed out to me that no Republican has carried his district for president since Ronald Reagan in 1984. “I have held hundreds of town-hall meetings in my district explaining why we have to take bold reform steps, and I’ve found treating people like adults works,” he told me. “All those ads pushing elderly woman off the cliffs don’t work anymore if you lay out the problem.”
Ronald Reagan had a large measure of Democratic support in his two landslide election victories over two big government, tax and spend Democrats. He won them in Rep. Ryan’s district and nationally, because of the way he connected with voters and articulated a common-sense message in language they understood. he never talked down to people, he spoke to them with respect and dignity. Thus we now have the term Reagan Democrats as part of our political dictionary and lexicon. And as we see from this little unknown tidbit, we can see that Ryan also carries the same kind of successful influence…for the very same reasons.
The important thing to note is not that Ryan has won in his district as part of some fluke or some one-time generalized protest vote…as sometimes happens. But he has won big and has done it many times. He seems to be able to connect with people who otherwise are in tune with other Democratic candidates and at the same time, he can draw in TEA Party support for an ideology that heavily promotes fiscal responsibility—as a means to save a republic that is in danger of going into a deeper crisis than Greece, Italy, and Spain combined.
This is why the smart Dems are worried and if they aren’t, they soon will be. On the surface, they may not look worried or act it. Some will ridicule the choice and make it sound weak, others will arrogantly state that this is what they have been waiting for all along—someone they can use the old material against. They do not think they’ll have to break a sweat on this one. But inside, you can bet they are pretty worried. And once they see how Ryan connects with average people on the stump and in the polling, they will be terrified.