The following is an excerpt from Jacob Weisberg | August 12, 2012 | Slate.com |
Introducing his running mate against the backdrop of the USS Wisconsin on Saturday, Mitt Romney flubbed his easiest line. “Join me in welcoming the next president of the United States,” he declared. There is no way to avoid reading this as a Freudian slip. Romney’s chief problem as a candidate has been his substantive vacuity, his failure to stand for anything beyond flexibility itself. In choosing Paul Ryan, he opted to outsource the content of his campaign to his opposite: a principled, conservative idea man. Ryan is now the head of the Republican ticket, Romney the body.
Given the options he had left himself, this was probably the best choice Romney could make. Ryan stands for a clear proposition—the radical scaling back of the federal government’s social commitments—and through his pick, Romney now represents that as well. Usually, a vice presidential candidate scrambles to fall into line with the top of the ticket. In this case, it is Romney who will, not for the first time, have to adjust his views. Instead of attacking President Obama for cutting Medicare, Romney must now charge him with not cutting it enough—though he may try, absurdly, do both.
Curiously, both conservatives and liberals profess to be pleased with the choice, the former because Ryan represents their beliefs and the latter because he has offers clear positions they can challenge. Though both cannot be right about the political impact of the selection, the campaign itself will benefit from Romney’s choice. Ryan’s presence on the ticket makes this a better and more interesting election. It forces the debate the country needs to have about entitlement spending and ensures that the remaining months will be more than an argument about whose negative ads are more disgusting.
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