All of the talk from the Villagers this weekend has been how “bold” and “courageous” it was for Mitt Romney to pick Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his running mate. Oh, he’s a real fighter for the conservative cause of smaller government and lower taxes, entitlement reform and moral social causes. He’s a charismatic charmer with the dashing good looks and the smooth talk that will win the moderates and independents.
Well, that all sounds like something to make the cable chatterers salivate into their Starbucks, but it’s bullshit. Picking Paul Ryan was a sop to the right wing that views Mr. Romney and his wishy-washy automatonic candidacy with deep suspicion, and Mr. Romney chose Mr. Ryan because he hasn’t got the guts to stand up to the vocal and intemperate base.
What would have been truly bold and courageous would have been to pick someone who could actually appeal to the independents and swing voters such as Condoleezza Rice (pro-abortion rights) and Chris Christie (pro-gun control and moderate on immigration), or someone who believes in entitlement reform without gutting it, that the middle class needs as much support as the rich, that LGBT people are fully entitled to all the rights of citizenship, and that women have the right to make their own choices about their own bodies. But no; Mr. Romney felt he had to suck up to Grover Norquist, Wayne LaPierre, and Rush Limbaugh. In fairness, though, he didn’t have much of a choice; there are no moderates in the Republican Party of 2012 that can run on a national ticket.
Mr. Ryan does provide one advantage for Mr. Romney: when they lose, he can blame it on being dragged to the right by the conservatives and therefore losing their broad appeal. (It will also take a lot of unmitigated gall to do that, given Mr. Romney’s history of flailing to the right, but he’s already proven that’s one quality he does have.) The Republicans will move even further to the right, determined that the candidate in 2016 make Rick Santorum look like a Commie.