Look at the Washington Post's online front page this morning and you'll find it's all Ryan (due to be announced in Norfolk later today). Not a word about any other VP candidate. Maybe the announcement will bear out the Post's prediction. If it does, the choice of Ryan leaves Romney between that rock and that hard place.
And it will be interesting to see how the Obama campaign handles the Ryan addition to the ticket.
It's important for prospective Obama voters to remember the difference between candidate and campaign. As Charles Blow concedes this morning, Obama's campaign has really turned "vicious." He draws a parallel between the campaign's treatment of Romney with the Bush campaign's treatment of John Kerry -- though Romney isn't nearly as highly rated as Kerry was at the same stage of the 2004 campaign.
The Obama campaign and its supporters have been incredibly aggressive, vicious even, in going after Romney and trying to define him as out of touch and elitist. Many attacks have been fair — others not so — but they may be beginning to stick. According to a recent report in The New York Times, “President Obama has spent more campaign cash more quickly than any incumbent in recent history.”
The Obama campaign seems to be gambling that if it defines Romney early in the minds of voters, no amount of late spending by Romney and the massive “super PACs” that support him will be able to undo it. The theory is simple really: It’s impossible to separate the soda from the sugar when it’s already baked into the cake. This is not at all unlike what Karl Rove and George W. Bush did to John Kerry in 2004, and it worked ...NYT
The thing is, these tactics have been very, very successful.
...When CNN asked respondents, regardless of whom they supported, who they thought would win in November, they favored Obama over Romney by nearly two to one.
Romney is one of the worst presidential candidates in recent memory. He is stiff and awkward and inconsistent and struggles to connect with people. His track record is all over the place. And he’s willing to say anything and embrace anyone to further his ambitions, which is as distasteful a character trait as they come. If you are straightforward with folks, they may disagree with you but most will at least respect you. I’m not sure that Romney ever learned that lesson. His “by any means necessary” approach is by all measures repugnant. ...NYT
Blow's only worry is that we may become complacent, thanks to the success, so far, of the Obama campaign. Well, maybe ...
Jonathan Bernstein, at the Washington Post, is calling Paul Ryan a "high-risk, low-reward pick."
And, of course, Ryan's budget has been effectively voted down and now draws more laughs than admiration.
And Ryan is unproven and perhaps weak as a campaigner beyond Wisconsin.
Ezra Klein reminds us that Paul Ryan is a decent, likeable sort of person. But "it’s worth recalling how Ryan became a semi-household name."
It wasn’t a Republican strategy to put him forward. As Ryan Lizza recounts in his New Yorker profile of Ryan, it was a Democratic strategy to put Ryan forward. Ryan, he writes, “was caught between the demands of the Republican leaders, who wanted nothing to do with his Roadmap, and his own belief that the Party had to offer a sweeping alternative vision to Obama’s. Ryan soon had an unlikely ally, in Obama himself.” While Republicans were trying to keep Ryan quiet, the Obama administration was trying to make him famous. They saw his plans as the clearest distillation of the GOP’s governing philosophy — and they thought it would drive voters towards the Democrats. We’ll know in November whether that was a genius strategy or an epic miscalculation. ...Klein, WaPo
Decent, likeable, whatever. There is another way in which Ryan undercuts the Romney campaign's main message(s). Ryan is a theoretician.
Consider the case for Romney until today: He’s a relatively moderate businessman running because his experience in the private-sector gives him crucial insight into how to manage the economy. Now consider Ryan: He’s worked in politics his entire life, beginning as an aide to Sen. Bob Kasten, then working for Sen. Sam Brownback and as a speechwriter to Rep. Jack Kemp. He’s known as a relatively ideological politician who has put forward a detailed policy plan to remake the federal government. It’s a rather different message about what’s important. And how does Romney say the problem with Barack Obama is that he’s “never spent a day in the private sector” and then put Ryan a heartbeat away from the presidency?
Ryan upends Romney’s whole strategy. Until now, Romney’s play has been very simple: Don’t get specific. In picking Ryan, he has yoked himself to each and every one of Ryan’s specifics. And some of those specifics are quite…surprising. For instance: Ryan has told the Congressional Budget Office that his budget will bring all federal spending outside Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to 3.75 percent of GDP by 2050. That means defense, infrastructure, education, food safety, basic research, and food stamps — to name just a few — will be less than four percent of GDP in 2050. To get a sense for how unrealistic that is, Congress has never permitted defense spending to fall below three percent of GDP, and Romney has pledged that he’ll never let defense spending fall beneath four percent of GDP. It will be interesting to hear him explain away the difference. ...Klein, WaPo
Economist Paul Krugman had this to say about Ryan's budget last April. It addresses what Ryan, the theoretician, wants to take America.
On Thursday Republicans in the House of Representatives passed what was surely the most fraudulent budget in American history.
And when I say fraudulent, I mean just that. The trouble with the budget devised by Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, isn’t just its almost inconceivably cruel priorities, the way it slashes taxes for corporations and the rich while drastically cutting food and medical aid to the needy. Even aside from all that, the Ryan budget purports to reduce the deficit — but the alleged deficit reduction depends on the completely unsupported assertion that trillions of dollars in revenue can be found by closing tax loopholes.
And we’re talking about a lot of loophole-closing. As Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center points out, to make his numbers work Mr. Ryan would, by 2022, have to close enough loopholes to yield an extra $700 billion in revenue every year. That’s a lot of money, even in an economy as big as ours. So which specific loopholes has Mr. Ryan, who issued a 98-page manifesto on behalf of his budget, said he would close?
None. Not one. He has, however, categorically ruled out any move to close the major loophole that benefits the rich, namely the ultra-low tax rates on income from capital. (That’s the loophole that lets Mitt Romney pay only 14 percent of his income in taxes, a lower tax rate than that faced by many middle-class families.)
So what are we to make of this proposal? Mr. Gleckman calls it a “mystery meat budget,” but he’s being unfair to mystery meat. The truth is that the filler modern food manufacturers add to their products may be disgusting — think pink slime — but it nonetheless has nutritional value. Mr. Ryan’s empty promises don’t. You should think of those promises, instead, as a kind of throwback to the 19th century, when unregulated corporations bulked out their bread with plaster of paris and flavored their beer with sulfuric acid.
Come to think of it, that’s precisely the policy era Mr. Ryan and his colleagues are trying to bring back. ...Paul Krugman, NYT
Economist Simon Johnson wrote this about Paul Ryan in May.
Mr. Romney’s embrace of the Ryan plan during the general election campaign would represent a significant shift toward a much more extreme view on the future of government than many Romney proposals during the primaries (see this assessment of his primary proposals by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan bipartisan fiscal watchdog focused on deficit reduction).
Mr. Weber said he was not speaking for Mr. Romney; I was on the same panel, and my strong impression is that Mr. Weber was floating trial balloons.
Mr. Ryan’s proposals would substantially phase out the federal government’s role in providing basic social insurance for older people by sharply reducing Medicare and by eliminating almost all nonmilitary discretionary spending.
The House Budget Committee is also proposing to remove the only safeguard we have against the failure of another megabank. Some libertarians praise these proposals. But these Republicans’ strategy is not so much to remove government in favor of abstract “markets” but to shift the balance of power away from government and toward entrenched private lobby groups, particularly in the health care sector and on Wall Street. ...Simon Johnson, NYT