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.