Saturday, August 11, 2012

Wrong again, but at least I got what I wanted . . . or did I?

Well, almost no one saw Sarah Palin coming (though those who don't publicly state more frequently "knew," as always) and few saw Paul Ryan. He was always more visible as a potential choice than she was. As far as the media was concerned, he was more frequently discussed after it became clear Romney would be the nominee and then considered less more recently until the last few days, when rumors began to percolate.

Last week, when I considered the choices, I wrote, like many others, that Romney would most likely go with the conventional choice, Rob Portman. But, about Ryan I wrote as follows: "It would be dangerous to take a budding leader like Ryan out of congress, though he would be my choice."

I stand by that. I think it may be a mistake. Not because he can't be in congress if he loses - he can run in Wisconsin too. But, if he wins, congress loses his reasonably eloquent and very educated voice. Over the course of the last 3 1/2 years his prominence has risen because he seems to know what he is talking about. He did major in economics and political science in college, but, if you went to college, you know that doesn't necessarily mean anything. Perhaps I am too much influenced in believing this by my own lackluster college career, but, it is certainly true of many people. Nevertheless, he began working in congress for others and eventually became a congressman himself. He has both said that he was most influenced by Ayn Rand in growing up, but said that he was more influenced by Thomas Aquinas and rejected Rand's "atheist" philosopy. I usually believe Ryan believes what he says, but I can't know to what degree that switch in time was as a result of political prudence, much as I suspect John McCain's quiet switch to a Baptist church before he ran last time. But, after praising Rand for years (and my favorite libertarian writer, much more reasonable, in my mind, than Rand, Friedrich Hayek), his switch came after he was hammered by Catholics for it. Hmmm.

The reason I wrote that Ryan would be my choice is fairly simple. Though there were budget proposals that I would prefer to his own, his was, out of the ones that were acceptable to me, the most realistic in terms of getting any votes despite its savaging by liberals as pushing grandma off the cliff. He is a conservative through and through, and that usually means I will not be especially heartened by some of his social positions. Still, as Romney is more sanguine when it comes to the tripwires of conservative politics - abortion, religion and sometimes what I see as dislike of or discrimination against against gays, atheists and American Muslims than most of the other candidates, so Ryan is usually relatively quiet when it comes to these issues. His mini-bash of atheism came in the same breath as he threw Rand under the bus. It was not vehement, but moreso stating that he is a believer and dedicated to Cahtolic principles. I am aware of no statement he has made which was anti-American-Muslim but find myself opposed to his beliefs on gay rights. That's not sufficient for me to not want him to win. I am stuck, in this era, that anyone with libertarian leanings is going to likely be socially conservative, in the meaning we currently assign that.

I like the way Ryan speaks. It is moderate in tone, which is simply more pleasing to me; he concentrates on the economy, which I think is wise and, of course, we agree on many things, which is most important. If given a choice, I'd much prefer Ryan to Romney as president.

On one hand, not surprisingly since I wrote he'd be my choice, I am encouraged by the choice. It was clear Romney needed to pick someone who had good conservative credentials, but he chose the one most knowledgeable about economics and who is also the most intellectual of the group. But, I am also concerned. Campaigns are often about things that make me sick; the partisan hate-filled attacks and arguments about things that either don't matter or are just outside of a president's purview. I'm not sure how Ryan will do with those. And, they can't be avoided. One who tried was the intellectual and urbane Jack Kemp as VP candidate in 1996. Ryan reminds me a bit of Kemp, who didn't exactly catch fire and didn't do particularly well in his debate with Al Gore. Guess who one of his speechwriters was? A young man (he's still young - only 42) named Paul Ryan.

Ryan will be pared with Joe Biden, who, is often very congenial, sometimes unaccountably honest to his campaign's distresss,  occasionally whiny and often just kooky. I'd like to think that Ryan would wipe the floor with him. But, a need to be civil and the unpredicatbility of the debate forum and questions, make it far from simple. Additionally, I am not aware of how great Ryan's knowledge of foreign affairs is, and whether you agree with Biden or not, he has spent time on it. That factor will develop over time.

My biggest problem with "my choice" though, is that the VP is a well known pit from which quite credible persons never emerge. If Romney and Ryan win, then Ryan is lost to congress and quite lost to the debate for the most part. He also will have to back up and swallow the very wishy washy Romney, whose desire to please makes him almost as much of a wild card as Joe Biden.

So, I was wrong about who Romney would pick, happy that is my choice after all, and not sure I should be. You know the old saw - be careful what you wish for . . . .


  1. Vice Presidents are meaningless. UNLESS they polarize and then they often mobilize the opposition (see Palin, Sarah and the 2008 election). This is the case here. Romney certified Obama's re-election with this choice. Pay not attention to the closing of the gap that occurs between now and the end of the Republican convention (happens all the time, means nothing). Ryan is such a villified figure to liberals and even many moderate democrats that he will push some undecideds Obama's way. By courting the conservative wing, Romney killed himself. He should have had the courage to pick a moderate or moderate-liberal republican from a northern state which would have cut into Obama's base. Instead he chose a player who brings no Obama votes along for the ride. Which is a shame, since I prefer Romney to the current shmuck. Oh, and just for the sake of irritating you, your boy Ryan is no economic whiz kid, his proposed budget sucks as bad as the one that Obama and this idiot Congress came up with, albeit for very different reasons.

  2. That is probably the most thoughtful comment you've written in forever, so I will leave all your errors, mistakes, misjudgments and incitements untouched. Bu-ut, to clarify, I don't think of Ryan as an economic wiz kid, just light years ahead of most everyone else in congress or who was considered a potential Veep nominee - though I may be being unfair to Portman. I actually prefer the tougher budgets proposed by Rand Paul and Ron Paul, and think Ryan's does not cut enough. However, I do think Ryan's is a fairly moderate plan. I'm also unhappy that he voted for TARP, which I don't think I mentioned, but I have no candidates who are perfectly in line with my thinking. Still, his budget plan, which is not the one they are campaigning on, is so much better than Obama's, that it is hard to fathom. Ryan got 40 votes in the Senate, 5 Republicans voting against, but Obama's got zero EVEN FROM HIS OWN PARTY. I'd like to hear that during the debates. It's astonishing. Thanks for the comment.

  3. You could not just leave it alone. You had to throw in the talk show host, "thanks for the comment." EAT ME! That's like when the remote reporter finishes his story and the prissy anchorman says, "thanks Jim for the live report." As if Jim had a choice, or was just volunteering out of the goodness of his heart. IT IS SOOOOOOOOOO PHONY. I am so irritated my stomach is now gurgling. I retire in search of tums....

  4. Let me quote from your first comment - "Oh, and just for the sake of irritating you . . .," so I decided to have my own fun. But, never understood what it is about my saying thanks to the few people who bother to leave comments as being Hollywoodish. I agree with you on every news show it is phone. But, when someone leaves a comment here, I appreciate it. Why shouldn't I say thank you? Is there some rule that you have to have X number of readers before you can be polite? Someday you will explain.


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About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .