This morning, as my temporarily bed-ridden wife and I watched the Olympics, I happened to glance at the headlines on my iPad and noticed that presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has selected a running mate. There didn't seem to be much fanfare. In fact, but for my iPad, I might have missed the whole thing. But sure enough, it's true. Romney has a running mate. The enigmatic Governor Romney chose Paul Ryan!
Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is an Ayn Rand Disciple and one of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's "Young Guns." He's generally considered to be a rising star in the Republican Party.
He is also the author of the hugely unpopular Ryan budget which the Republican-majority 112th Congress passed to demonstrate its supposed "fiscal responsibility." But as folks became familiar with that budget --with its restructuring of Medicare, its elimination of Medicaid, and its ultra-regressive tax structure --the hoi polloi started raising hell. It got so bad that even House Speaker John Boehner backed off it.
So, in the context of the current election, with Romney falling 7 to 9 points behind the President in the latest polls, what is the appeal of Paul Ryan?
As a person who regularly engages in political --er, let's call them "discussions" --I've found that, while conservatives intensely dislike President Obama, they're not at all thrilled about Mitt Romney. For Romney to win, he needs to generate some enthusiasm for his candidacy.
Perhaps the Ryan pick is calculated to demonstrate once and for all Romney's conservative bona fides. Right-wingers still suspect that Romney is a closet moderate from Massachusetts. (And for good reason! There is footage of Romney making diametrically opposed statements on any number of issues.)
Tea Party folks will respond well to the pick if it can be spun as a demonstration of contempt for President Obama. After all, that's what's important to them. They never have shown much interest in policy.
And Paul Ryan is a big hit with the plutocrats in the party. So Romney can keep counting on those big contribution checks right into the fall.
I'll give him this: Romney knows who it is that is buttering his bread. Putting Ryan on the ticket is the one calculation Romney made from pure conviction. The man serves money. The man serves the monied elite.