Monday, August 13, 2012

Romney Just Did What Reagan Should Have Done and Nominated a Jack Kemp for VP

I'll admit I haven't always been Paul Ryan's biggest fan as you can tell by a previous post of mine titled "Paul Ryan is Overrated and his Budget Plan Sucks" which incidentally is getting quite a bit of traffic now that he is the VP pick (I seem to have trashed the entire current GOP ticket).  And I stand by my criticisms of him.  I think many on the right are just so in love with Paul Ryan that they aren't looking at his plans critically, especially the tax reform section of his budget plan which could easily increase taxes on a lot of middle class Americans thanks to its planned elimination of deductions.  Also, in 2011 his ACU rating was only 80, thanks to a couple of pro-Union votes and votes for big spending bills.

But putting all that aside, I do think he is a great pick by Romney for VP. I'm actually quite surprised he picked Ryan as Ryan clearly overshadows him.  He's young, energetic, very well spoken and clearly a leader in the GOP.  Many, in fact, had been pressuring him to run for President himself.  Romney's pick of Ryan is clearly a testament of him putting the country first as well as his business acumen.  In the private sector, you want to hire the most talented people available as that increases your profit.  In politics, you seem to more often be looking to check boxes.

So how do I reconcile my earlier criticism of Ryan with my stance that he is a great pick?  Here are some reasons:

  • My earlier criticisms sprouted from everyone gushing over his budget plan, so I thought I'd point out some very specific imperfections within the plan and within Ryan's record.  But we don't live in a perfect world and nobody who Romney was going to pick was going to be 100% conservative/libertarian.  He was never going to pick a Jim DeMint or a Rand Paul to be his VP but Ryan was one of the better choices.  If Romney had picked someone like Rob Portman, I'd be shaking my head today.  Portman is essentially a Bush Republican who doesn't stand for much.  Ryan, on the other hand, definitely stands for a lot.  He stands for the America that we used to have, an America that can come back under the right leadership.
  • If you look at Ryan's lifetime ACU rating of 91.69, he compares quite favorably to people we think of as stalwart conservatives.  Newt had a lifetime rating of 90, Dick Cheney had a 91 and Jack Kemp had an 89.  That's pretty good company, I'd say and as he has been in Congress for 14 years, you can't say there aren't enough datapoints to reach a conclusion.
  • Looking at the big picture, picking Ryan is the same as if Reagan had picked Jack Kemp in 1980, who was also a relatively youthful and charismatic House reformer who was the darling of conservatives.  Back then though Reagan felt he need to balance the ticket with someone from the establishment with a long record and chose George H.W. Bush.  This one pick gave control of the GOP to the Bush family for 20 years following Reagan's departure from office as being the VP automatically gives you an advantage when running for President (especially if that Presidency is successful).  This pick has the potential to give the GOP to the reformers for years to come.  People who won't shirk from tackling Medicare despite the fact that its considered a "third rail" in politics.  These are the people we need to have in power in order to keep America from sliding further towards bankruptcy.  Not thinking to the future is definitely one of the problems I had with W.  I'm a huge Dick Cheney fan but it was pretty clear due to his health that he wouldn't be President.  Not having someone waiting in the wings for two terms meant that we had to settle for a John McCain in 2008.
I also just want to add one more thing, I'm relatively impressed with how Romney has been campaigning for President.  I expected that once his challengers dropped out that he would immediately tack towards the left (I really thought he'd be the etch-a-sketch candidate), which is something even Reagan did in 1980.  But he hasn't really, he is campaigning as a conservative and doubled down on that by picking Paul Ryan as his VP.  While he isn't a bomb thrower like Newt, the main substance of his speeches are probably no different than what a Newt would say if he were in the same position.  He is offering a real choice for voters and driving Democrats nuts.  What else could I want?

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