Would a “Candidate Paul Ryan” be the second-coming of Goldwater, or a “black swan” President?

posted at 9:20 am on April 29, 2011 by Patrick Ishmael

This isn’t so much an analytical post first, but an invitation to a conversation. Paul Ryan’s supporters have been making waves the last few days by raising the possibility that he might run for President. So, let’s talk about it, both here and on Twitter.

Conventional wisdom portrays entitlements as the “third rail” of American politics. Entitlement reform is a notoriously risky political minefield, and so most politicians usually don’t bother trying. Yet despite the CW, Paul Ryan has rolled out a plan to address this very issue, and one that has garnered considerable support from his partymates.

But where is he leading them, and where would he lead the party in 2012? To put the headline another way, which is the more likely scenario if Ryan ran for President, and why?

  1. Ryan becomes an ideological hero-candidate doomed to a spectacular defeat in a general election; - OR -
  2. a dark horse Ryan candidacy marches to victory, fundamentally changes government, and later both events are justified as obvious and expected outcomes?

For those unfamiliar with what a “black swan” is, Wikipedia has a handy three-part definition for what factors constitute such an event, so I’ll reproduce that here:

  1. The event is a surprise (to the observer).
  2. The event has a major impact.
  3. After its first recording, the event is rationalized by hindsight, as if it could have been expected (e.g., the relevant data were available but not accounted for).

“Black swans” are generally more about events than people — ex. World War II, the Internet, etc. — but I think a Presidency that would make an overhaul of entitlements central to its platform would, in the narrow context of the American political landscape, be an event of magnitude great enough to be termed this way. A run of this nature would directly contradict long-standing CW. And because the effect would be so great, I can’t imagine an election where Ryan would kinda sorta lose, or kinda sorta win. Seems to me it’d either be a blow-out, our a massive sea change.

But what do you think? Would a Ryan run be an “epic win” or an electoral disaster? Or something in between? I look forward to your thoughts.


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kingsjester on April 29, 2011 at 10:35 AM

From what I ascertain, he has been crefully doing all the right things, like what you mention, for about a year now. But the real action is taking place just under the surface, under the guise of the sooner you hoist your banner, the sooner they can take shots at you.

This NRO piece kinda gives a glimpse of aligning stars.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/265671/daniels-president-katrina-trinko

Archimedes on April 29, 2011 at 11:21 AM

It’s disheartening to see so many who call themselves conservative support someone with such a voting record. It’s really demoralizing.

Big Orange on April 29, 2011 at 11:21 AM

Looks like I was beaten to it. Bears repeating, again.

Would a “Candidate Paul Ryan” be the second-coming of Goldwater…

Don’t be ridiculous.

Paul Ryan on Bailouts and Government Stimuli
-Voted YES on TARP (2008)
-Voted YES on Economic Stimulus HR 5140 (2008)
-Voted YES on $15B bailout for GM and Chrysler. (Dec 2008)
-Voted YES on $192B additional anti-recession stimulus spending. (Jul 2009)
[...]
Congressman Ryan supports the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, federal bailouts, increased federal involvement in education, unconstitutional and undeclared wars, Medicare Part D (a multi trillion dollar unfunded liability), stimulus spending, and foreign aid.

According to Michelle Malkin in 2009, “[Paul Ryan] gave one of the most hysterical speeches in the rush to pass TARP last fall; voted for the auto bailout; and voted with the Barney Frank-Nancy Pelosi AIG bonus-bashing stampede. Milwaukee blogger Nick Schweitzer wrote: ‘He ought to be apologizing for his previous votes, not pretending he was being responsible the entire time, but I don’t see one bit of regret for what he did previously. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to let him get away with it’.”

If this is what passes for a conservative voting record, then we are well and truly ******.

Rae on April 29, 2011 at 10:21 AM

Bares Repeating

Dr Evil on April 29, 2011 at 11:12 AM

iamse7en on April 29, 2011 at 11:23 AM

If the Republicans don’t run a “Strong Conservative” Candidate with executive experience, I will vote for the Libertarian candidate. If that turns out to be Ron Paul so be it. Democrat 2.0 is not an alternative to Democrat 1.0, and the Republicans need to get it through their heads -Independents decide elections. If we don’t see a clear distinction between two candidates, brand x and brand y, what difference is it going to make to us which of the 2 we vote for?

We like Governor Chris Christie in our house.

Dr Evil on April 29, 2011 at 11:28 AM

Archimedes on April 29, 2011 at 11:21 AM

So, appearing with Democrats, and making fun of members of your own political party, is “the right thing”?

kingsjester on April 29, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Every body under 50 years old raise your hand if you believe Social Security and Medicare will be viable when you are ready to retire (probably at 70 years old). When I reached 50 it was assured. Now that I reached my retirement several years ago there is anxiety on my part if it will even last for my life time. Wikipedia’s definition is met in all three examples as far as I’m concerned.

Herb on April 29, 2011 at 11:47 AM

People like lies better than the truth.
THEY CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

Badger40 on April 29, 2011 at 11:52 AM

If that turns out to be Ron Paul so be it.
Dr Evil on April 29, 2011 at 11:28 AM

I’m not averse to voting for Paul. I would vote for him over Huckabee.
But that’s about it.
Paul is just too crazy on foreign relations IMHO.

Badger40 on April 29, 2011 at 11:53 AM

My, are’nt we touchy. If you can’t make fun of yourself(or your group)that belies an insecurity, to laugh at yourself(or your group)is an act of confidence. Unlike the arrogance we so often see in Teh Obamanable One.

And, the “party”, from a conservative standpoint, has been a joke! I give you the Bush years as evidence there-of.

As for “appearing” with Dem’s, do please remember that the great Ronald Reagan regularly sat down with Patrick Moynihan for scotch at the White House regularly.

Spite, malice and tempermental behaviore are the characteristics of children(see; Obama’s STOU and Ryan)and leftists.

Archimedes on April 29, 2011 at 11:55 AM

Spite, malice and tempermental behaviore are the characteristics of children(see; Obama’s STOU and Ryan)and leftists.

Archimedes on April 29, 2011 at 11:55 AM

Daniels also took a crack at several potential rivals for the Republican presidential nomination. He mocked Mitt Romney for debating with himself (Obama later joked that there were two Romneys occupying the same “host body”) and he noted that when Mike Huckabee mistakenly said Barack Obama was raised in Kenya, Sarah Palin corrected him by saying that Obama “hasn’t even been to Europe.”


Aren’t they, though.

kingsjester on April 29, 2011 at 12:01 PM

In a debate – you might be right….. the question is can Ryan withstand the lefts attacks? – remember they don’t fight fair.

jake-the-goose on April 29, 2011 at 9:34 AM

As long as he kept his cool I think he’d be alright.

Ward Cleaver on April 29, 2011 at 12:02 PM

In a debate – you might be right….. the question is can Ryan withstand the lefts attacks? – remember they don’t fight fair.

jake-the-goose on April 29, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Whoops! Quote, not strike.

As long as he kept his cool I think he’d be alright.

Ward Cleaver on April 29, 2011 at 12:02 PM

Archimedes on April 29, 2011 at 11:21 AM

Thanks for linking. Great article. This blurb, is particularly relevant here and apropos of what I was saying in my initial post here about Daniels and Ryan being similar in many ways:

The reason for that continued interest may be that, as crowded as the field of possible GOP contenders is, there’s no Daniels duplicate in the mix. With voters likely to remain focused on the national budget and debt as 2012 rolls around, Daniels’s budget-wonk reputation and his past as an OMB director (under George W. Bush) give him credibility. He can also point to an enthusiastic recommendation from House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, who told The Weekly Standard last year that Daniels “would be a great president,” and that Daniels understood the principles behind Ryan’s famed Roadmap and the necessity of implementing it.

MJBrutus on April 29, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Archimedes on April 29, 2011 at 11:21 AM

Regarding your post before about Daniel’s starts aligning, here’s a good article I just found at RCP:

The Campaign Waiting for Mitch Daniels

MJBrutus on April 29, 2011 at 12:31 PM

topdog on April 29, 2011 at 11:12 AM

Minor point – it’s Patrick who wrote this. Ed’s on vacation.

Steve Eggleston on April 29, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Ryan becomes an ideological hero-candidate doomed to a spectacular defeat in a general election; – OR -
a dark horse Ryan candidacy marches to victory, fundamentally changes government, and later both events are justified as obvious and expected outcomes?

The Left is committed to Cat Food 2012 – The Republicans want Grandma to eat cat food so that The Rich can have Bush tax cuts for The Rich. Ryan or not, timidity loses to this Big Lie campaign. The winning response is Cat 2037 – if we continue the Obama recession with more borrowing, spending, taxing, ridiculous benefits for public employees, the question is whether or not our grandkids will be eating cat in 2037.

motionview on April 29, 2011 at 12:40 PM

I really want to see Ryan continue to irritate, annoy, vex, rankle, confound, and affront our great leader. Ryan just plain pisses him off in the way of someone who’s never had anyone ‘bring it’ to them. Ryan opens mouth, steam whistle begins to rise from Obama’s head.

roy_batty on April 29, 2011 at 12:44 PM

The Left has run out of ways to criticize Ryan and his plan. None of them work. Every generation or so the United States has had a guy change the conversation of our politics and help steer us away from disaster.

I know this is trite, but I’m going to say it anyway. My wife and I are both political historians of the 19th century. I’m obviously biased, but she’s not (she considers herself a moderate). Ryan really reminds both of us of Abraham Lincoln and not in the Obama-is-from-Illinois-and-black-so-there’s-a-connection kind of way.

Lincoln came out of nowhere in 1858 when he debated Douglas and helped spark a real conversation about what the US should do about slavery. Like Ryan, Lincoln only served in the House and basically spent his time working behind the scenes, mostly being known for his “spot resolutions” which brought ire from President Polk.

Both guys could see the freight train coming that would hurt the nation. Ryan’s debt crisis speech he started giving during the Obamacare debate reminded me of Lincoln’s House Divided speech. Both are very good debaters also.

I know people like to point some of the bad votes Ryan’s made, and they’re fair criticisms, but that can be said for any politician with a long record of experience. No one with a record has a perfect one (see Reagan). There were plenty of criticisms of Lincoln too, especially from eastern abolitionists.

The country is ready to move away from early 20th century liberalism and statism because they can see the system is starting to collapse. Ryan and his generation are finishing what Goldwater and then Ronald Reagan first made possible, which is why I’m voting for the black swan.

cpaulus on April 29, 2011 at 1:08 PM

One word to describe nominating Ryan: Bold. A Ryan victory would be an unqualified endorsement by the electorate of conservative economic principles, and would give the GOP the electoral mandate it will need to restructure entitlement programs. Ryan is one of the GOP’s most effective critics of Obamacare, and our most articulate spokesman for tax and entitlement reform. It doesn’t hurt that he’s young, charismatic, Midwestern, and affable.

Not to mention that Republicans are going to have to defend Ryan’s plan in 2012 anyway; would we rather have a Romney who somewhat distances himself from the Ryan plan and leaves GOP congressmen swinging in the wind, or would we rather have Ryan defend his plan and provide cover for our majority as well? Nominating Ryan would set up a truly historic battle between the parties about the proper role of government. It would be an intellectual battle of ideologies; a Ryan victory would not just be a vote of no-confidence in Obama, it would be a fundamental repudiation of big government. This is a fight we need to have now, and this is a fight we will win. Let’s throw down.

Lawdawg86 on April 29, 2011 at 1:10 PM

For those comparing Goldwater to Ryan:

Goldwater voted AGAINST the creation of Medicare in 1960, 1962 and 1964. He even went as far to utter the following:

“Having given our pensioners their medical care in kind, why not food baskets, why not public housing accommodations, why not vacation resorts, why not a ration of cigarettes for those who smoke and of beer for those who drink.” [1964]

In obvious contrast, Ryan voted for the 19 trillion dollar prescription drug EXPANSION of Medicare in 2003. Duh.
This is sacrilege to even compare the two.

Nelsen on April 29, 2011 at 1:13 PM

cpaulus on April 29, 2011 at 1:08 PM

A very interesting comparison, Lincoln v Ryan. Thanks for providing it. Who knows what the future will hold for Ryan and for us, but I can see your point about an earth-shattering storm brewing as did in Lincoln’s time.

Speaking just stylistically, Ryan speaks in prose and lacks the poetry of Lincoln. Perhaps its due to the nature of the crisis (slavery and states rights vs the quantitative arena of economics) that Ryan’s unvarnished, just the facts style is so effective at disarming the bellicose generalities of PBHO.

MJBrutus on April 29, 2011 at 1:43 PM

Upon further reflection (not to mention a read thru of the comments), one has to wonder if the current version of Ryan is that of a Congressman “who gets it,” or is simply an opportunitist junion class (versus Trump who happens to be an opportunist first class with “V” device).

I believe Ryan to be sincere in wanting to do the right thing, and can accept the past voting record as wanting to support the leadership of the time. That said, the new reality is owing no loyalty to individuals who show none for the Constitution, the taxpayers, or for the nation as a whole.

Ryan’s budget suffers from two major problems, IMHO: 1) It doesn’t cut enough, fast enough; and 2) It’s long time line is ripe for future Congresses to undo or bypass the spending controls. Some how, some way, I believe we need to make it a priority to phase in a balanced budget within four years, and then work on eliminating the overall debt prior to 2025.

I’d like to think that there is some national will do to all of that, but with nearly 50% of the country not paying any taxes at all, things don’t look great at the moment.

itzWicks on April 29, 2011 at 1:45 PM

I know this is trite, but I’m going to say it anyway. My wife and I are both political historians of the 19th century. I’m obviously biased, but she’s not (she considers herself a moderate). Ryan really reminds both of us of Abraham Lincoln and not in the Obama-is-from-Illinois-and-black-so-there’s-a-connection kind of way.

Lincoln came out of nowhere in 1858 when he debated Douglas and helped spark a real conversation about what the US should do about slavery. Like Ryan, Lincoln only served in the House and basically spent his time working behind the scenes, mostly being known for his “spot resolutions” which brought ire from President Polk.

Both guys could see the freight train coming that would hurt the nation. Ryan’s debt crisis speech he started giving during the Obamacare debate reminded me of Lincoln’s House Divided speech. Both are very good debaters also.

I know people like to point some of the bad votes Ryan’s made, and they’re fair criticisms, but that can be said for any politician with a long record of experience. No one with a record has a perfect one (see Reagan). There were plenty of criticisms of Lincoln too, especially from eastern abolitionists.

The country is ready to move away from early 20th century liberalism and statism because they can see the system is starting to collapse. Ryan and his generation are finishing what Goldwater and then Ronald Reagan first made possible, which is why I’m voting for the black swan.

cpaulus on April 29, 2011 at 1:08 PM

Really interesting post. Good stuff.

MikeknaJ on April 29, 2011 at 1:58 PM

I’m not averse to voting for Paul. I would vote for him over Huckabee.
But that’s about it.
Paul is just too crazy on foreign relations IMHO.

Badger40 on April 29, 2011 at 11:53 AM

I think Paul is unlikely to win the Republican nomination that said, he might stick around and run on the Libertarian ticket. At least next Presidential cycle the Libertarians would have a high profile candidate for a change. If the Republicans ran a real conservative in 2012 than I would vote Republican but not for a soft mushy in the middle – John Boehner, We have adult decisions to make kind of Republican. Adults take care of their needs, children take care of their wants. Adults told the Republicans to keep their word, and cut 100 Billion from the 2011 budget, because we need to decrease our deficit spending. The John Boehner Republicans are not off to auspicious start. People like me are keeping a tally.

Didn’t Ryan fold on the 2011 Budget, and vote yay for the piddling amount the Republicans settled for? You know he had bigger fish to fry and people needed to be realistic. Nope! Ryan wants people to buy he’s a pragmatist. He looks like a go along to get along politician.

Dr Evil on April 29, 2011 at 3:43 PM

hard to fortell. But a Ryan Presidency would likely lead to some huge fights, probably riots, definitely protests.

Those things need to happen, though, before American start to seriously think about what they want their country to be about. Are we about coddling people? Or are we about providing a blank slate on which people can write great stories of personal triumph?

hawksruleva on April 29, 2011 at 3:45 PM

I really want to see Ryan continue to irritate, annoy, vex, rankle, confound, and affront our great leader. Ryan just plain pisses him off in the way of someone who’s never had anyone ‘bring it’ to them. Ryan opens mouth, steam whistle begins to rise from Obama’s head.

roy_batty on April 29, 2011 at 12:44 PM

Well sure, who doesn’t enjoy the circus when it comes to town :)

Dr Evil on April 29, 2011 at 3:47 PM

Paul is just too crazy on foreign relations IMHO.

Badger40 on April 29, 2011 at 11:53 AM

I used to think so, too. But I think we could back a long way away from our current interventionist stance. America was well-served by being aloof. Nations called on us repeatedly, and we reluctantly answered when the need was greatest. Now, we’re omni-present, oppressive, meddling.

hawksruleva on April 29, 2011 at 3:47 PM

Ryan reminds me of Reagan in the sense that he doesn’t get easily flustered, doesn’t slip into invective. He just kind of keeps saying, “There you go again….” Juxtaposed with Obama, Ryan will make the president appear as the small, petty, vengeful, petulant child that he is.

I think his candidacy would send the Obama White House into hysterical vapors.

Rational Thought on April 29, 2011 at 3:54 PM

He’s not going to be president. He has no experience as an executive. He’s a member of the House, when did we last elect someone directly from the House to the White House.

Get serious. We need a Senate which will pass his budget and a President who will carry it out, rather than fight it and subvert it.

Conservatives should get over their yearning for Prince Charming to come along and solve our problems. That is fairy tale thinking, whether it’s Ron Paul or Sarah Palin or Paul Ryan. That kind of thinking is what gave us Barack Obama. No responsible person would run for President without executive experience as a governor, especially in forcing spendthrift legislatures into balancing their budgets without increasing taxes.

flataffect on April 29, 2011 at 5:31 PM

This is sacrilege to even compare the two.

Nelsen on April 29, 2011 at 1:13 PM

He is no Barry Goldwater.

AshleyTKing on April 29, 2011 at 8:58 PM

Obama would resist having any debates with Ryan & try to crush him with media. Given the MSM will remain totally in the tank for Obama & Obama will likely have over a billion $$$ to spend on campaign ads, he’d have a good chance of succeeding.

While the % of voters who understand we’re on our way to a train wreck is increasing, it’s not a majority yet. Right now, there are still majorities who think Social Security, Medicare & Medcaid can continue “as is” for the foreseeable future.

BD57 on April 29, 2011 at 10:16 PM

I love what Ryan is doing with the budget. He is trailblazing. And he has a fire in his belly about it – he knows his stuff. He’s also a gentleman in debate/confrontation.

The idea of an Obama v Ryan debate is delicious

ace tomato on April 29, 2011 at 10:32 PM

ajacksonian on April 29, 2011 at 10:35 AM

Interesting observation.

AshleyTKing on April 29, 2011 at 10:40 PM

Would a “Candidate Paul Ryan” be the second-coming of Goldwater

Compared to Barry Goldwater…”ouch”, winces, followed by “LOL”.

Dr. ZhivBlago on April 30, 2011 at 12:21 AM

Oh wait, are we talking about Paul Ryan or Mitch Daniels? I ask because they would both run a very similar campaign and pursue very similar policies so it’s hard not confuse the two.

What about a Daniels/Ryan ticket?

ace tomato on April 30, 2011 at 11:41 AM

and can I just say, godD************ I miss Dick Cheney.

ace tomato on April 30, 2011 at 11:42 AM

It also reminds me of the old saying that prior to the Revolution it is thought unlikely but after the Revolution it is thought inevitable.

Fred 2 on April 30, 2011 at 1:20 PM

Or are we about providing a blank slate on which people can write great stories of personal triumph?

hawksruleva on April 29, 2011 at 3:45 PM

when you enthusiastically support a flat tax, elimination of all exemptions, and eliminations of all susbsidies I’ll believe you really want true equality in order for people to thrive.
“Oh wait, you mean farm subsidies, oil subsidies, and *gasp* I might have to pay some taxes because the flat tax would force all citizens to pay an equal percentage with no gimmicks? Er, let me go listen to Rush and bone up on a talking point or two before I respond. k?”

/Sarc

Bradky on May 1, 2011 at 10:04 AM

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