During the 2008 election, conservatives tried their darnedest to convince the American public that Barack Obama was radical. They pointed to his work as a Saul Alinsky-inspired community organizer; his background in Chicago politics; his associations with the likes of Bill Ayers and Rashid Khalidi and Jeremiah Wright; his liberal policy positions; and the fact that his voting record was rated the most liberal in the Senate by National Journal. In the end, their efforts failed. Many conservatives like to pin the blame on a complicit media or a weak-kneed McCain campaign. The honest truth, though, is that a big reason why the American public didn’t perceive Obama as a radical was that he didn’t come across that way. Whenever he spoke, gave interviews, or debated, he was calm and reasonable sounding. He wasn’t a wild-eyed. He didn’t use extremist language. So, conservative warnings about him often fell on deaf ears. I suspect that liberals will run into similar problems if they think they’re going to convince people that Paul Ryan is a radical…
Much like Obama in 2008, Ryan comes across as reasonable, thoughtful and earnest. He’s heard all of the attacks on his budget proposal and has become deft at fending them off. Democrats can spend all the time they want attempting to define him as an anti-woman, granny tossing firebrand. But the actual Paul Ryan that Americans will see in speeches, interviews and the vice presidential debate will be a stark contrast.
[T]hey don’t understand that Ryan’s conservatism is not going to hurt him anymore than Ronald Reagan’s did in 1980. Bearing, like Reagan, a specific plan of action for difficult times, Ryan may be just the man to ride his conservatism straight into the West Wing.
Because Ryan is the king of the Reagan babies. The one that most resembles dad…
Ryan also exudes the Midwestern sunniness Reagan could project, while harboring the same capacity to respond sharply when challenged…
[T]he earnest Ryan, a complement to the avuncular Reagan, will be hard to demonize. He’ll also get credit for trying to solve the problem.
Paul Ryan has a plan to fix it. It is not a feel-good plan, but we don’t live in a feel-good time. It is a tough plan, but tough times require tough plans. The fact that he has a plan is a good starting point for discussion. And for many voters, a starting point is better than more mindless political demagoguery.
Ryan is an earnest guy, a good family man. He looks younger than his 42 years, and his flat Wisconsin accent doesn’t exactly boom across an arena. But because he looks so young, he speaks for the next generation, the poor suckers who have to clean up the mess after the baby boomers are done partying.
The Democrats will seek to define him as an affable but dangerous ideologue. But Paul Ryan is too clean-cut, too fresh, too well-spoken to paint as an extremist. He is the Boy Scout who lives next door who now wants to clean up our nation’s fiscal problems. Who could be against the Boy Scouts?
Ryan’s success has come, in no small part, from his good manners and understanding of the Capitol’s culture at an ugly, tense time. He’s charmed many of the people who might be expected to like him least, like Rep. Gwen Moore, a fiery Milwaukee representative who grew up in Ryan’s district and, in contrast with the typical home-state enmities, has been friendly with him for years.
“He’s very, very friendly, very respectful,” Moore told BuzzFeed of Ryan, noting that once when they encountered each other in an airport “he quickly grabbed my suitcase” and carried it to her car for her. Moore one of the most outspokenly partisan members of the Democratic Party, beloved by the press corps for her willingness to take unflinching aim at Republicans on women’s and civil rights issues.
“He doesn’t have harsh words for anyone,” she said.
Erskine Bowles is not backing away from his previous praise of Rep. Paul Ryan now that the Wisconsin congressman is on the Republican presidential ticket.
“I like him,” Bowles, the former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and co-chairperson of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, told The Daily Caller in a phone interview.
“I think he’s smart. I think he’s intellectually curious. I think he is honest, straightforward and sincere. And I think he does have a serious budget out there — it doesn’t mean I agree with it by any stretch of the imagination. But I’m not going to act like I don’t like him or that I don’t have some real respect for him.”
As a candidate, the telegenic, articulate Ryan could play another much-needed role. He could be a great communicator, educating the public about policy challenges and Republican plans to address them…
We’re in another anxious period, and voters are again primed to consider serious policy talk. To play up its team’s strengths as numbers guys, countering the self-congratulatory idea of Democrats as the party of intellect, the Romney campaign could make a gutsy move. It could deploy Ryan to talk to the public at length about the looming fiscal crisis, producing a series of long-form, Perot-style videos. Nowadays the Republicans wouldn’t even need to spend money for prime-time television (although that would certainly get attention). They could rely on YouTube…
The American public is in the appropriately desperate frame of mind for a serious policy discussion. The Ryan pick suggests that Romney might be willing to offer one. The alternative is three more months of sniping about tax returns and college transcripts (not to mention how dogs are treated) — attacks on the candidates’ identities rather than their ideas. The times demand better.
The Republican vice-presidential candidate, Congressman Paul Ryan, is the Democrats’ political version of the Antichrist. He believes in self-reliance; the Left believes in reliance on the state. His moral values are shaped by religion (Catholicism); the Left is frightened by religious Christian politicians (and athletes, and members of the armed forces, and talk-show hosts, and, for that matter, clergy). He believes in individualism; the Left believes in collectivism. He believes in small government and powerful citizens; the Left believes in large government and dependent citizens…
Since the Democrats could not win any national election with the votes of liberals alone — according to Gallup, self-described liberals constitute just 21 percent of the electorate — the great question of the 2012 American presidential election is this: Have the Left and Democratic party sufficiently weakened the character of enough Americans to enable the demonization of Paul Ryan to lead Barack Obama to victory?
I don’t believe so. But given the enormity of the national debt incurred by this administration, its spectacular failure to improve the nation’s economy, and its commitment to weakening American defense, if there were a better explanation for a Democratic victory, I would welcome it.