We’ve barely touched the presidential race in this space in the past few months, and with good reason: I didn’t want to bore you. But the boredom season is over. Bring on the demagogues!
Mitt Romney’s selection of Congressmember Paul Ryan to be his vice presidential candidate means the battle has been joined. Was the Ryan selection a “Hail Mary pass” for a campaign that needed a jolt? Some Democrats say yes.
“It was a ‘Sarah-Palin-in-reverse’ move,” one strategist told me. “Unlike Palin, Ryan knows what he’s talking about. But he’s risky, big-time risky.”
One prominent Democrat, former Mayor Ed Koch, was typically flip.
“Ryan is God’s gift to Democrats,” he said.
The logic goes like this: Ryan’s Medicare plan will become the Democrats’ “medi-scare” strategy. The best example: a commercial showing a Ryan-looking character tossing a grandma in a wheelchair off a cliff.
The truth is that Ryan’s plan will not affect anyone 55 and older. He says it’s an attempt to salvage a system that will be unsustainable.
Democrats say the Ryan plan will destroy the system as we know it.
So where is the truth? In the middle? Most presidential campaigns run to the middle. But it just may be that this campaign will be different. It appears both sides are setting up a hard left-right campaign.
Ryan will have to convince senior citizens that he is not the bogeyman who wants to steal their health care. Says columnist and Fox News analyst Charles Krauthammer, “The Ryan risk is obviously that the Democrats will succeed in defining him as a wild-eyed extremist by saying to seniors in Florida that he’ll abolish your Medicare or he’ll toss Granny in the snow.”
But Krauthammer says Ryan is an attractive, intelligent politician who will increase in stature as he gets more exposure.
And he has definitely energized Romney, whose campaign appeared to be on a downswing.
But what about Florida? It would appear that Romney probably needs the state to win the presidency. So why didn’t he choose Florida Senator Marco Rubio to help him do it?
Some Republicans say that while Rubio might have helped deliver Florida, Ryan gives Romney Midwest and working-class appeal, potentially boosting his chances in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Ryan is also a Catholic, making the Romney-Ryan team the first without a Protestant in the modern era.
One thing is clear: voters will have a distinct choice. And it’s the obligation of every American to find out the facts, and tune out the blather. Good luck with that!