Only weeks, if not days, away from Mitt Romney announcing his pick for the running mate, several prominent conservatives are pushing very hard for Rep. Paul Ryan. Just today the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Rich Lowry of the National Review joined the chorus in favor of Romney.
From the Wall Street Journal’s “Why Not Paul Ryan?”:
The whispering over Mitt Romney’s choice of a running mate is getting louder, and along with it we are being treated to the sotto voce angst of the GOP establishment: Whatever else Mitt does, he wouldn’t dare pick Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, would he?
Too risky, goes the Beltway chorus. His selection would make Medicare and the House budget the issue, not the economy. The 42-year-old is too young, too wonky, too, you know, serious. Beneath it all you can hear the murmurs of the ultimate Washington insult—that Mr. Ryan is too dangerous because he thinks politics is about things that matter. That dude really believes in something, and we certainly can’t have that.
All of which highly recommend him for the job.
From Rich Lowry writing at Politico “Don’t Fear Ryan“:
That the hyper-cautious Romney is seriously considering him counts as one of the biggest surprises of a campaign almost entirely lacking in them. Picking Ryan would represent a Romney revolt against conventional wisdom. And appropriately so — since the conventional wisdom is wrong.
Romney has other worthy VP options that don’t provoke such agita. Overly safe is its own risk, though. Tim Pawlenty would offend no one, but might create a VP letdown in the party. Rob Portman is highly capable but is a former Bush official at a time when the Obama campaign is eager to define Romney as Bush redux.
Ryan would inject a jolt of energy into the campaign and reorient the debate around policy. The Romney campaign doesn’t have to be reckless. It does have to have a pulse. It doesn’t have to commit ideological hari-kari. It does have to have an unmistakable substantive content.
Ryan is the unusual potential choice that would probably make both conservatives and liberals equally happy for basically the same reason. So far Romney has run his campaign remarkably devoid of policy details and real vision, picking Ryan would change that. On big issues Ryan has stated a clear, very conservative vision for how he wants to remake the nation.
Conservatives think if this vision is put to voters in the right way it will win, giving them the “mandate” to move the nation heavily rightward. Liberals are equally convinced that if Ryan’s ideas are put before the electorate, they will be rejected overwhelmingly. Romney choosing Ryan as his running mate would put both positions to the test to see which is correct. At the very least it would inject some substance into an election which has been focused on tax returns, trying to guess what Romney means from his incredibly vague policy statements, and highly deceptive editing of Obama’s statements.