--Richard E. Vatz
Just a resounding three cheers for the vice presidential choice of Paul Ryan, Wisconsin’s 1st District Representative. If there is any hesitation, it is only because of a lack of a governor’s administrative experience.
The choice of a vice presidential candidate is much more important than most observers realize. There is a consensus that people don’t vote for the vice-presidential choice because public opinion polls indicate that to be the case.
Irrespective of what such polls indicate, the choice is quite important, although people might not realize that their votes for president are influenced by it. I would argue that the vice presidential choices were probably dispositive in the elections of 2008 (the Sarah Palin mistake), 2004 (Dick Cheney made mincemeat of pretender John Edwards) and 1972 (maybe accompanying problems contributed mightily as well here), when the Tom Eagleton debacle set the George McGovern team cascading downhill).
The choice was a good one for the following reasons and more:
1. Rep. Ryan makes the economy the pre-eminent issue and counters what South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley calls the Democratic “lapdogs of distraction” who want to discuss only issues of the import of the fact that Romney had his dog at the top of his van over a decade ago.
2. Rep. Ryan is a policy wonk and temperamentally suited to be vice president. He is appropriately respectful to Gov. Romney, but avoids the Dan Quayle obsequiousness of the George Bush Sr. era. His arguments are substantive and not ad hominem. He is substantively prepared to argue why the economic philosophy of accumulating debt and confiscatory taxation will leave future generations with a quality of life far inferior to our current one.
3. I suppose there are electoral advantages to choosing a Wisconsin-Scott Walker connection, but it appears that criteria of governing and intellectual and leadership acumen were more operant than horse race criteria.
4. In foreign policy there is less experience than I would like, but Rep. Ryan is clearly in favor of a more active foreign policy and in his articulation of positions in Middle East policy would not abdicate America’s interests, as has been the Obama wont.
This is not a comprehensive exegesis on the soundness of the Gov. Mitt Romney pick, but from a moderate conservative-who-wants-good-leadership, this pundit is quite pleased with the Paul Ryan choice.
Professor Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University and is the author of The Only Authentic Book of Persuasion (Kendall Hunt, 2013)