(Written at 2:00 AM on August 11)
Either the boys from Boston are pulling the greatest Bait ‘n Switch in the history of American politics, or Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) will be the Republican nominee for Vice President in 2012. While I tend to be skeptical of self-important “sources” and those who are desperate to break news, it seems like a safe lock that Paul Ryan will be Mitt Romney’s presumptive running mate, as of eight hours from now.
Over the past few weeks, the discussion has been about whether Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) would go with the “safe” pick, or “go bold.” With Paul Ryan, he chose the latter; he reared back for the home run swing. The only person who can decide whether he makes contact with the pitch is Mitt Romney – with some assistance from Rep. Ryan.
Tomorrow morning, many Americans will ask themselves, “Who is Paul Ryan?” The answer is simple: The most courageous politician of the 21st century. Period.
Hyperbole? Hardly. Medicare and Social Security are set to go bankrupt before my generation even turns 40 years old, but reforming these two government programs is known as “the third rail of American politics” because of the political difficulties that come with reform. Nevertheless, Paul Ryan introduced a plan to make both programs solvent, to pay down our debt, and to put our nation on a path to prosperity.
This “Ryan Plan” has been demonized by Democrats for the past year-and-a-half, and has been a staple of Republican candidacies at the same time. It is divisive. It is polarizing. And it’s exactly what Mitt Romney needs.
As a conservative, I am nervous for the next few weeks. Mitt Romney’s campaign will have to define the Ryan Plan better than the Obama campaign defines it. As a Republican, this fact makes me nervous: Romney has done a poor job of defining everything from his record to his first name during this election.
At the same time, this may show a shift in the Romney strategy. The Mitt Romney of 2012 has been over-safe, over-calculated, and over-analyzed. This could mark a long-awaited change.
To use a tired basketball metaphor, Mitt Romney has been holding the ball for the past year, not realizing that he was trailing behind. Today, Mitt Romney began dribbling toward the basket.
This is his move. This is his drive to the hoop.
Many pundits will speculate over the course of the next 24 hours: What does the selection of Paul Ryan mean? The answer to this question depends on how the Romney campaign moves forward.
If this means that Mitt Romney is taking the gloves off and is prepared for the title fight of his life, then the Paul Ryan pick was brilliant. By going “bold,” Romney has set a new tone from his campaign. Rather than responding to disgusting Obama Super-PAC ads with nothing more than press releases and staff quotes, Mitt Romney is ready to call out the President on his policies. Rather than repeat the word “jobs” until he loses the sense of feeling in his lips, maybe Mitt Romney is ready to take on the President on his plethora of failures. And maybe, just maybe, Mitt Romney is ready to point out the basic fact that the President has done nothing to change the fiscal trajectory of a nation that is on a path toward destruction by debt and deficit.
[Imagine the V.P. debates in October, when Paul Ryan sits across from Joe Biden and says, “Joe, these programs have been facing a path of failure since you joined the senate over 30 years ago, and you haven’t done a thing to fix them. Your status quo has failed the American people, and it’s time for a new direction.”]
For the first time since challenging a protester in Iowa a year ago, Mitt Romney has showed that there’s more to his candidacy than tired talking points and over-protective strategy.
In one of the best columns of her career, Peggy Noonan recently stated that it’s time for Romney to pick a fight. Tomorrow morning, he will name a running mate who has been willing to take more punches than anyone else in Congress. At long, long last, Mitt Romney will toss the gloves aside.
And let’s be clear about one final thing: While the Ryan Selection is bold, it is not Palinesque. The only thing that Ryan and Palin have in common is the foam that lines liberals’ mouths at the mention of their names. Paul Ryan is an economist. He is chairman of the House Budget Committee. He has a record as an intellectual heavyweight who is serious about solving the nation’s biggest problems. Most importantly, Paul Ryan is prepared to be President tomorrow.
Tomorrow, Paul Ryan will be introduced to America as the next GOP candidate for Vice President, and Mitt Romney has a chance to finally re-introduce his candidacy to the nation. If the Ryan Selection is the first step in a final, bold push for the Presidency, Mitt Romney is on his way to the White House.