Posts Tagged ‘Paul Ryan’

The Sunday review: Paul Ryan

19/08/2012, 07:00:56 AM

by Anthony Painter

What must it be like to be a guy who can only feel he’s succeeded in life if he becomes US President? It is difficult to look at Mitt Romney without posing this question. It is this basic fact that is making his campaign always feel edgy, nervy, gaffe-prone and slightly desperate. It was in sore need of a bit relaxation and that is what the choice of Paul Ryan constitutes – a therapeutic massage. It is a luxury that is unaffordable even for a man as well-heeled as Mitt Romney.

Scanning Mitt Romney’s biography, it is impossible not to be impressed unless one applies some perversely high standard. He was a successful – and moderate – governor of Massachusetts. His business career was, on its own terms, highly successful. He rescued the Salt Lake Olympics. Regardless of his undoubted advantages in life, this is a very impressive curriculum vitae. It earns him the right to considerable respect. For himself, it is nowhere near enough.

Mitt Romney, as is well established, is in the shadow of his father. George Romney, who was certainly seen as a possible contender for a presidential run himself, was a Rockefeller Republican. He walked out of the 1964 Republican Convention in protest at the Republican nominee, Barry Goldwater, who stood opposed to the Civil Rights Act.

This was the last election before the politics of race swiveled the geography of American electoral politics. Goldwater wanted to hold the south, governor Romney of Michigan, wanted to retain the moderate Republican presence in the industrial north. Goldwater Republicans won the party while being trounced in the election – in part, as a consequence of the division precipitated by Romney’s objection to Goldwater’s approach.

His father’s biography is a lot to live up to. The paradox, however, is that this enormous pressure seems to be taking its toll. In his quest to out-achieve an over-achieving father he seems to be making mistakes. The appointment of Paul Ryan as his running mate falls into this category.

Ryan is no Sarah Palin – far too bright and sophisticated a politician for that – but it is a Sarah Palin-esque decision. Seeking to “game change” more often than not backfires. The point of John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s book Game Change, however, is that when it comes to vice-presidential picks, the “game changing” option is more often in your opponent’s favour.


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Three things we learned about Romney when he picked Paul Ryan as his running mate

14/08/2012, 07:00:55 AM

by Nikhil Dyundi

As the immediate buzz around Paul Ryan’s selection subsides the real implications are becoming clear. Suffice to say, they don’t paint a picture of a campaign in rude health. Here are the top three.

1 Romney is still running in the Republican primary

The Ryan pick tells us that Romney is worried about his back.

Neither the Republican elite, as embodied by the Wall Street Journal, nor the tea party base has coalesced around Romney as he would have wanted. Background chatter criticising the campaign and candidate are a constant.

Paul Ryan is the darling of the Republican elite and seen as sufficiently fiscally sound/insane (delete as appropriate) by the base. His choice will firm up these groups’ commitment to the campaign. But this support was meant to be sewn up months ago. At this stage in a presidential contest, the candidate should have swung into the centre, not headed out further into base territory.

By picking Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney is essentially still fighting the Republican primary and just permanently ceded large tracts of the centre ground to team Obama.

2 The current campaign narrative is killing Romney and he is trying to change the conversation

So far the campaign has been defined by two questions: Did Bain destroy American jobs and businesses while Romney ran the show? And, has Mitt Romney paid any taxes, ever?

The facts have been against Romney on Bain. Despite his protests that he left the company in 1999, before they really amped up their mania for outsourcing, documents filed with the financial authorities have one Mitt Romney as the CEO and chair till 2002.

On tax, Romney has signed a blank cheque for the Democrats by refusing to release past tax returns. Whatever the Dems say about Romney, he will not release the evidence to contradict it. Which naturally leads most to think he really must have something awful to hide.

Picking Ryan is a bold enough play to shift the conversation.


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