Unless I am missing something really important in this political calculus, Mitt Romney just handed over the presidential election to the incumbent, one Barack H. Obama this morning at 9 AM EDT when he officially announced the choice of Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to be his running mate. The announcement itself, made in front of an outdated and decommissioned WWII battleship was nothing less than prophetic.
Is there a rule which says that Republican presidential candidates must play Russian Roulette with the vice-presidency? First, we have George W. Bush appointing Dick “Boom-Boom” Cheney and getting, in the bargain, a finger-waving Svengali who took the country into two $2 billion-a-week, unwinnable wars and, on the eve of the worst economic meltdown in 4 generations, told the country that “deficits don't matter.” By the end of the Bush II presidency, the country was so fed up with those two, I swear the people would have elected my Uncle Charlie if he was on the ballot. (Unfortunately, Uncle Charlie died 30 years ago.)
As if to underscore lousy choices in running mates, in 2008 John “Maverick” McCain anointed a total idiot in the person of “Sister” Sarah Palin to be his running mate, hoping that a combination of a cute derriere and down home “you betchas” and "hockey moms" would transfigure McCain's image from “old man” to “youthful hipster.” He got far less than he bargained for in Sister Sarah and got hammered.
And now [drum roll] the Mittster gives us Paul Ryan! I mean, if ever there was someone would would alienate about a third of likely GOP voters, it is Paul Ryan. This is a guy who would take down every federal social program in existence and more importantly, leave the most likely voters of them all - seniors – hanging from a Republican gibbet. And while Ryan has yet to spell out how he would wring $5.8 trillion from federal spending, he's made it plain that social programs will take the first major hit, while he calls for more massive tax cuts for the already rich and tax increases for the already poor. In choosing Ryan , Romney has placed every GOP voting bloc at risk, including the 6-10% of the electorate who call themselves independents. The GOP base is simply not large enough to elect him.
Moreover, Ryan (unlike the Mittster, who has evidently had an epiphany on his position since being governor) has been uniformly against abortion rights for women and even more strangely, has elevated even birth control, an issue settled decades ago, to the level of a campaign issue. In short, for “R2” (Romney and Ryan) woman don't get to control their wombs. That should help with the women's vote enormously. For Democrats, that is. R2 = D2: Romney and Ryan will each be defeated is now a fairly good bet.
At this juncture, it's hard to conceive that this 2012 Republican offering in the way of executive leadership can actually get elected. We will likely be hearing from that retired lady who was on Social Security and admonished McCain, “Don't cut my Medicare!”
The truth is that Americans have always been pretty much centrists. And that's the way it will be in November. The GOP has left the Democrats much ground to stake out as their own, and they will take full advantage.
In choosing Ryan, Romney has once again stepped on his shoestrings. So much for intelligent picks.