Coffee House

Paul Ryan, the right choice

11 August 2012

10:02 PM

11 August 2012

10:02 PM

Congressman Paul Ryan (R – Wisconsin) has not courted much of a profile outside America, so I doubt many CoffeeHousers will be familiar with him. But rest assured: he is an excellent choice for vice-president. Here’s why.

The 42-year-old is not a neophyte, having served in the House of Representatives for 13 years. He has cross-party appeal: he represents a Democratic district that he nonetheless has won comfortably on seven occasions. Ryan knows how to listen to and speak to Democrats. This is a priceless skill for a Republican running for the second highest office in the land.

Two traits define him: his striking command of public policy (especially on fiscal matters) and his eloquence. He can communicate free-market solutions with appeal and without jargon. Not even his enemies will accuse him of lobbing platitudes around Washington, nor can anyone really describe him as ineffectual. He is chairman of the House Budget Committee, a powerful position with no real equivalent in Britain. Ryan and his committee actually wrote the last two budgets that the House of Representatives adopted, under Republican control. (These budgets, alas, sank in the Democratic Senate, which thrice has broken federal law by refusing to pass any budget whatsoever since April 29, 2009.)


Those unfamiliar with Ryan need only review his keystone legislation. Take Path to Prosperity, a serious attempt at budget restraint and welfare reform. While it would not put Washington on the crackers-and-tap-water menu that it deserves, it surely would shutter Team Obama’s free-of-charge, come-one-come-all, 24-hour, gourmet smorgasbord.

Ryan’s concrete proposals for modernising Medicare may draw Democratic fire. But they give Republicans solid ammunition against the Democrats’ vague, gassy attacks about GOP cold-heartedness. Democrats will complain that Ryan and the Republicans have an entire pillow factory working overtime, so that they can smother millions of seniors to death in their sleep. (Brits may think I exaggerate, but take it from an American: Democrat rhetoric truly is almost this unhinged. Obama’s supporters embarrassed themselves this week with an ad that essentially accused Romney of giving a woman terminal cancer. The ad backfired badly when these bizarre charges turned out to rest atop an Everest of lies.)

Beyond such substance, Ryan also brings style to the ticket. He is arguably the most handsome member of Congress, and his youthful buoyancy is contagious. His smiling optimism will make it very hard for Democrats to portray him as a nasty, cold, heartless, granny killer — though they may die trying.

Ryan also sounds tough without being mean — and there is a huge market in America for this right now. Take his speech this morning. It solidly slammed Obama’s record without snarling, which can unnerve independents and fragile centrists.

He nicely tossed Obama’s entire class-warfare theme back in his face. As Ryan said, ‘We Americans look at one another’s success with pride, not resentment, because we know, as more Americans work hard, take risks, and succeed, more people will prosper, our communities will benefit, and individual lives will be improved and uplifted.’

Ryan concisely critiqued Obama’s overall presidential posture and contrasted it with his and Romney’s approach. As Ryan stated: ‘We won’t duck the tough issues…we will lead! We won’t blame others…we will take responsibility! We won’t replace our founding principles…we will reapply them!’

Romney has in his running mate a man of intellect, gravitas, seriousness of purpose, courage, charm, and communication skills. By choosing him, Romney recalled another Republican “R”: Reagan.

New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a Fox News Contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

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Show comments
  • RationalSpeculator

    The right choice might also be the worst for markets – volume 8 of “What Happens Next?” @

  • David Lindsay

    When the Republican Convention nominates Paul Ryan for Vice-President, then it will declare the writings of Ayn Rand to be the ideology of the party. Of what, exactly, is Ryan’s and the Republicans’ Randianism conservative?

    In what politically meaningful sense is Ran a Catholic, rather than a Randian
    who merely happens to go to Mass for show and notionally to oppose abortions
    that he imagines occur in some economic, social, cultural and political vacuum?

    Not that he himself really does imagine any such thing, of course. The question
    is now whether or not conservatives and Catholics are as stupid as Randian Ryan
    and the Randian Republicans think that they are.

    Beating a man who openly wants to abolish the whole of Medicare, Medicaid and
    Social Security, and who has done so since long before the 2008 crash, is, in
    itself, candy from a baby stuff. But it is no less important to strip him and his of any claim to represent conservative or Catholic opinion. That, too, ought not to be overly difficult to do.

    • Curnonsky

      Can you supply evidence that Ryan or Romney have ever advocated, as you put it, abolishing ”
      the whole of Medicare, Medicaid and
      Social Security”?

      • David Lindsay

        If he doesn’t, then, in his own terms and yours, why not?

        As I said, candy from a baby.

        • Curnonsky

          A modest suggestion – why not confine your comments to subjects you actually know something about or upon which you have an intelligent thought? Imagine the time it would save.

          • David Lindsay

            Oh, dear, you really do know that you are beaten. Again. And by HIM. Again. Could the GOP survive losing twice in a row to Barack Obama? We are about to find out.

            Even Ross Douthat, on your own side, has gone into print with the blatantly obvious: the Ryan pick is the desperate shoring up of the core of the core vote by a Presidential candidate who knows that he is going to lose, but who wants to avoid the utter humiliation that is staring him in the face due to the impending mass abstention of the extremists in his own party.

    • DGStuart

      You’re really milking this Ayn Rand bollocks aren’t you. When was the last time (if any) that he advocated a ‘Randist’ society? I reckon you will struggle to come up with anything lifted from her writings.

      • David Lindsay

        • “I just want to speak to you a little bit about Ayn Rand and what she meant to me in my life and [in] the fight we’re engaged here in Congress. I grew up on Ayn Rand, that’s what I tell people.”

        • “I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are.”

        • “It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff. We start with Atlas Shrugged. People tell me I need to start with The Fountainhead then go to Atlas Shrugged. There’s a big debate about that. We go to Fountainhead, but then we move on, and we require Mises and Hayek as well.”

        • “But the reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.”

        • “And when you look at the twentieth-century experiment with collectivism — that Ayn Rand, more than anybody else, did such a good job of articulating the pitfalls of statism and collectivism — you can’t find another thinker or writer who did a better job of describing and laying out the moral case for capitalism than Ayn Rand.”

        • “It’s so important that we go back to our roots to look at Ayn Rand’s vision, her writings, to see what our girding, under-grounding [sic] principles are.”

        • “Because there is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism than through Ayn Rand’s writings and works.”

        • He told Insight on the News on 24th May 1999 that the books he most often reread were “The Bible, Friedrich von Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.”

        • He told the Weekly Standard on 17th March 2003 that “I give out Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it. Well… I try to make my interns read it.”

        • At a 28th February 2009 speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Ryan said that Obama was trying “to use this [financial] crisis to move America toward the sort of Europeanized economy… Sounds like something right out of an Ayn Rand novel.”

        You know, the sort of “Europeanized economy” that combines socialised medicine with either almost immeasurably more restrictive abortion laws than in the United States, or else outright bans, the only notable exception being here in by far the most Americanised country in Europe.

        If you have the other fruits of Catholic Social Teaching, then of course you can have abortion laws like that, since the situations typically giving rise to abortion are in any case vastly less likely to present themselves. Britain was like that for a generation between the end of the War and the enactment of the 1967 Abortion Act, and it is more than notable that the legalisation of abortion up to birth was enacted by Margaret Thatcher.

        Much of the Continent still is like that. But America never has been. And America certainly would not be under Paul Ryan. Catholic enthusiasm for him is in fact monomania, which is the opposite of catholicity. It is yet further evidence that the American and wannabe American outposts of the Catholic Church are becoming a single-issue pressure group on the subject of abortion. The concept of single issues is in itself utterly
        uncatholic and un-Catholic. Just ask the Pope.

        • DGStuart

          When are the first 7 bullet point quotes from?

          The next 2 are 13+ and 9+ years ago – does he still stand by them?

          The next one is far more pertinent and seems to accuse Obama of socialised health care as exemplified in ‘an Ayn Rand novel’ – a fair example but is it damning?

          Your argument that socialised health care is less likely to lead to a greater use of abortion (if that is what you are saying) is something I don’t buy.

          • David Lindsay

            It’s not a matter of what you buy, it is an established fact. Not one that many people in America will have been told, but there are an awful lot of those.

            Nor will they have been told that, not least for that very reason, the Catholic Church, at least outside the parallel universe of the United States, is one of the most active proponents and defenders of socialised medicine among other social democratic measures, and has been so for considerably longer than any of them has actually been in place anywhere.

            The Catholic influence, as such, is as important as any to why any of them was ever given effect, and to why some of them remain in effect wherever they do. Not least, this has been achieved in explicit alliance with more secular forces on the Left. Sometimes, as in many parts of Europe, that has been an d remains an alliance between parties. At other times, as in Britain or Australia, it has been and remains an alliance largely or entirely within a single party to which both ideologies and constituencies, Social Catholic and more secular left-wing, were and are fundamental.

            America, by contrast, looks like a country with no Catholic influence, as such, on her polity. Literally none. The gushing over Paul Ryan, indeed the existence of such a figure at all, only serves to confirm that impression.

  • Anthony Makara

    Ryan is very much the wrong choice. Romney needed to balance his ticket to broaden his appeal. Instead he has played to the in-house audience and has gone for an austerity hawk. The democrats now only have to play on fears that a further attempt to privatize Social Security will return under Romney/Ryan. Paul Ryan’s personality doesnt help either, he is aggressive, picks winners and losers, and is anti-government on a purely ideological basis. The GOP has to appeal to more than individualism if it is to be elected and is to govern for the whole nation. Ryan is an ideologue. The Democrats can paint him as such. Suicidal choice by Romney.

    • Augustus

      Romney could have chosen a safer pick, that’s for sure. But he had the courage to pick someone who has a vision to fix an economy that is failing badly. Not only a vision but a plan. Imagine that! He might just be the the kind of real ‘hope and change’ that Americans want, both progressives and conservatives. Ryan also fulfills the role of attack dog well, and has since before Romney even picked him to be his VP candidate. Obama is gone.

      • Anthony Makara

        The problem for Romney is that selling austerity at a time of recession feels like a personal attack for the very poor. Deficit reduction in Ryan’s case isn’t really about balancing the books, its about using the deficit to destroy the state. The day is coming when the state will be so whittled down through privatization that it won’t be able to bail out banks or keep an impoverished mobocracy from breaking out on the streets. Ideologues like Ryan fail to understand the difference between the state as nation and the state as a political project. When politicians base their raison d’etre merely on undoing the previous work of political rivals then vanity and tribalism become the only policy objectives.

        • Augustus

          Strong words! OK, What’s the Democratic budget plan, and how will it reduce the debt? Is there one? Someone’s got to understand that the longer they ignore the debt crisis and postpone serious budget cuts, the more painful the reckoning will be. Let that be Paul Ryan. There’s nothing compassionate about Obama’s kind of irresponsibility.

  • Ross

    This is a strikingly different analysis to that argued elsewhere; I’m neither qualified to comment on the merits of either, nor do I think it would be appropriate to attempt to do so from thousands of miles away in London, but I will be intrigued to see which argument history vindicates:

    From – Michael Cohen in America, The Guardian, Sunday, 12 August 2012 00:12
    “** Mitt Romney’s capture by the right plays into Obama’s hands. The confirmation of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate will do little to woo moderate voters to his cause… **
    With confirmation that Romney has selected a conservative favourite, Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan, to be his running mate the capturing of Romney by the far right is complete…
    …The Tea Party has become the Republican party. And if Romney should win in November his moderate political instincts (if they haven’t been completely eroded by years of pandering to the right) will be no match for the sound and fury of Congressional Republicans who will demand fealty to their agenda. If that happens, Americans can say goodbye to large chunks of the social welfare state they often deride in the abstract but love in its specifics, such as Medicare, federal education funding, environmental and workplace regulation.
    If Romney loses in November, which increasingly appears likely, don’t expect soul-searching within the Republican party. Instead, conservatives will likely convince themselves their mistake was failing to nominate a true rightwinger rather than Romney’s brand of wannabe conservatism. As for Congress, the primary wins for Cruz, Akin, Richard Mourdock – even if they lose in November – will mean that a body full of Republican politicians will toe the new party line. There will be zero political incentive to compromise with Obama and risk a challenge from the right. Ongoing challenges from a crumbling infrastructure – under-performing schools, growing environmental challenges and, above all, chronically high unemployment and an inadequate economic recovery – will likely see precious little attention from Washington.
    In short, the polarisation and dysfunction that have wrecked American politics over the past three and a half years will almost certainly continue. Through a combination of fear and intimidation, the far right of the Republican Party is today enforcing ideological rigidness in its purest and most uncompromising form, where even the slightest variation from the norm is reason for expulsion and exclusion. In the process, it is holding the US government hostage to its ideological whims. Welcome to the new normal in American politics.”

  • Daniel Maris

    You’re about two posts behind. We’ve all been getting acquainted with him and the consensus – with which I agree – is he’s a pretty good choice. About 12 hours ago I said the only danger was he would make Romney look unpresidential in comparison. It didn’t take long – I saw a news bulletin showing Romney making some envious, crass interjection in his speech saying ” I do make mistakes, but not that often…and he’s not one of my mistakes” or something equally crass, as if to demonstrate what I said.

    • tele_machus

      Now 2 are crass.
      Romney is a mormon and by definition suspect.
      Paul is a life begins at conception merchant who will make life difficult for women and from the moral point of view is no different than the taliban.

      • Ugh

        Question is, is he a start-WW3-for-Israel merchant?

  • CraigStrachan

    He voted for the TARP, didn’t he?