I sat back, read what people were writing, listened to what people were saying, and I largely reserved judgment until today. Until this moment, my general response has been, “Yeah, Paul Ryan is a douchebag, but we all know Mitt Romney was going to pick a douchebag… he was limited to picking a Republican.”
But then it hit me… no, he didn’t have to pick a douchebag.
Say what you want about Republicans, I think they roundly rejected the Tea Party in this presidential campaign. Romney is many things, but he’s no hardline conservative. I wonder if Republicans picked him because he is so moderate, after what many moderate Republicans must see as having been an era of extremes with Bush and Obama (though any moderate Republican who hates Obama is only fooling themselves).
The Paul Ryan pick has been… strangely unpopular. I had expected the left to go apeshit, and they haven’t disappointed me. But what has shocked me is how little enthusiasm I see out of Republicans for this pick. Even Tea Partiers aren’t as excited as I thought they would be, and those people are as excitable as meth addicts (granted, there is probably some overlap there…).
I am left wondering if perhaps Republicans are let down by this pick. It seems like Romney is trying to shore up his base by picking Ryan, and perhaps he has done this, but polls are showing that Ryan is the least popular VP pick since Dan Quayle. Less popular than Sarah Palin, less popular than Dick Cheney, even less popular than Joe Lieberman. Less popular (though not less forgettable) than Jack Kemp, Dole’s running mate in 1996.
Why is this? Isn’t this what Republicans wanted?
I don’t think so. From a vast field of many ultra-conservative Evangelicals, Republicans picked… the second most moderate Mormon in the race, behind Jon Huntsman. This sort of leads me to wonder if perhaps the best pick for Mitt would have been Huntsman, since this would be giving voters what they were looking for in Romney, only twice.
In any case, this pick has set the stage for what will be the 2012 presidential campaign. Thanks to Ryan, Medicare is suddenly a big issue. We’re also hearing a sickening amount of the name “Ayn Rand” now, and by now we’ve probably all watched Ryan crack a joke while one of his constituents was wrestled to the ground.
I will end by pointing out an amusing comment I see repeated over and over among moderate Republicans right now: “The VP doesn’t really do much.” How optimistic of them…