Saturday, August 11, 2012

Romney's pick of Ryan for VP reveals that he knows he is losing

Mitt Romney has chosen Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential choice.  This means, to me, that Obama has already scored a major victory in this presidential contest.

Looking at the race from the widest strategic view, I have always thought that if the race were to be a referendum on Obama's first term, whoever the Republican candidate was would likely win, because Obama's performance on the economy has not been successful, at least it is not something that he can campaign on other than say it wasn't his fault and that he has made it less terrible than it could have been. All the Republican candidate would have to do would be to pound home how terrible the economy was and how Obama was incapable of improving it.

Obama has always needed to change the subject from having the race be about Obama to having the race be about a choice between Obama and the Republican candidate.  Had Gingrich or Rand Paul or Santorum been the Republican candidate that would have automatically happened.  Those men are lightning rods in and of themselves, and who they were and what they represented would have been center stage as much as the first term Obama performance.  It would have been a choice rather than a referendum.

Romney was always running as the "Other Guy", the "Not-Obama Guy", the "Generic Republican."  Romney was always trying to keep the focus on the Obama economy.  He failed.  Obama won.  Obama shifted the focus to Romney - the "Plutocrat", the "Heartless Hedge-fund Profiteer", the "Cold Moneymaking Automaton."

If Romney had known that he was in the lead, he would have gone with one of the boring white guy Generic Republicans - Portman or Pawlenty.  If his own polling showed that he was losing, he was going to make a Bold Choice, i.e. forget about appealing to the middle and go for exciting the base with a Tea Party conservative, or a Social Conservative, or a Libertarian Deficit Hawk conservative.  He chose the Libertarian Deficit Hawk - Ryan.  It is a Hail Mary pass.  

The good thing about this, in my mind, is that it puts the Paul Ryan budget - cut, cut, cut the deficit - at center stage.  Obama and the Democrats were always going to run against the Ryan budget anyhow, and at least this puts the most articulate defender and visionary of the deficit cutting approach in center stage, Ryan himself.

Now, we could well have a real campaign, one centered on the heart of the differences between the governing philosophies of the Democrats and the Republicans - is government a hindrance to the growth of business and innovation and therefore an obstacle to the welfare of the people? or is government a necessary support and civilizing energy needed to harness and allow the growth of business and innovation and therefore a needed fundamental for the welfare of the people?

This election could well end up becoming the turning point election that I have been awaiting since Reagan's victory in 1980 - one where the country understands and chooses between two competing governing philosophies.  Up to now it has been an incredibly boring series of poll tested attack ads and insulting labels designed to destroy the opponent.  

Enough, enough, enough already.  It is time for ideas to take center stage rather than poll-tested and focus grouped subterranean appeals to the warring tribes in America.