Monday, August 13, 2012 at 1:54 PM
Political punditry in America has become almost as reactionary and partisan as the dribble that pours out every time a politician opens his mouth these days.
You’d think, for example, that nationally respected pundits like Paul Krugman and David Gergen would be offering insight and analysis on Mitt Romney’s choice of Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate. Instead, liberal pundits are offering nothing but trite talking points about how Ryan’s arcane efforts as House budget chairman to reduce the deficit and national debt amount to wheelchairing Grandma off a cliff to give rich folks more in tax breaks. And conservative pundits are offering nothing but similar talking points about how those very same efforts amount to the only hope America has of avoiding a Greek-style financial catastrophe.
Needless to say they’re both wrong. Not least because nobody can possibly know how the best-laid plans to deal with America’s long-term debt will fare when confronted with inevitable exogenous factors. After all, Bill Clinton handed George W. Bush a budget surplus and a comprehensive plan to deal with the national debt. Yet two unfunded wars and a global financial crisis later and America’s fiscal house looks a veritable basket case.
More to the point, though, making a big deal about what Ryan advocated as Chairman of the House Budget Committee completely misses the point. I mean, does anyone recall anybody making a big deal about what Joe Biden advocated as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations when Obama chose him as his running mate? No, because what mattered were the policies Obama was proposing to implement as president, not those Biden advocated as senator.
Which is why the only issue here is what Ryan’s selection says about the would-be president who selected him. Apropos of this, recall for a moment the many times Romney declared that the most important criterion for selecting a VP candidate is ensuring that that person is eminently qualified to be president on day one.
To illustrate his point he repeatedly stressed the importance of real-world/executive experience. In fact, he invariably juxtaposed his experience as a businessman with President Obama’s as a politician to indicate why he’s more qualified to lead America in 2012 than even this sitting president who already has nearly four years of real-world/executive experience in the White House.
So, given his declared criteria for choosing a running mate as well as the indignation with which he routinely dismissed Obama’s experience (as a community organizer, college professor, and U.S. senator), you’d think Romney’s choice would’ve been someone with impeccable credentials as a businessman and creator of private-sector jobs, no?
Except that he has chosen in Ryan the poster boy for the very kind of career politicians – with no real-world/executive experience – who he blames for turning the U.S. economy into (what he would have you believe is) a hopelessly moribund, dysfunctional mess. After all, Ryan began his career as a politician at the suckling age of 29 – at which time his only real-world/executive experience was working as a personal trainer and driving a wienermobile.
Frankly, the hypocrisy inherent in his choice should be reason enough to vote against Romney, if not for Obama. But Romney himself is exposed as a spineless phony when you realize that the only reason he compromised his own principles in this brazen fashion is to cater to the rabid Tea Partiers who now control the Republican Party.
To be fair, Romney telegraphed his willingness to sell his soul to these right-wing nuts last year when he took a Tea Party pledge during a Republican candidates’ debate to reject, as president, any comprise with Democrats to solve the budget crisis. For that pledge mandated rejection even if that compromise called for 90% of the cuts in Medicare and other social services he wanted and only 10% of the increases in taxes and none of the cuts in defense spending Democrats wanted.
Alas, the reasonable and pragmatic Romney who served as governor of liberal Massachusetts has been born again as an unreasonable and doctrinaire Tea Partier who believes compromise is a dirty word and that the Lord has ordained that the only way to govern is the Republican way … or no way.
Remarkably, the only difference between John McCain’s fatally flawed choice of Sarah Palin and his choice of Ryan is that at least Ryan has a brain between his ears. But if being a brainiac on budgets and debt financing were all that mattered then perhaps Romney should have chosen a Nobel laureate in Economics.
Not to mention the absurdity inherent in anyone trying to spin his choice of another plain-vanilla white guy as bold and inspiring. I’m sure the Hispanics in Florida who were hoping he would pick their senator, Marco Rubio, don’t see it that way….