Rightbloggers Rejoice as Ryan Revives Romney, Reaganesquely

tomt200.jpgThe ideologically fluid Mitt Romney surprised a lot of people this weekend by choosing as his Vice-Presidential running mate Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, a hardcore conservative best known for frightening off independent voters.

Democrats portrayed the choice as a gift. So did rightbloggers, often for the same reasons. The factors on which Democrats find Ryan vulnerable (transforming Medicare into a "premium support" program, even bigger tax breaks for the rich, etc.) rightbloggers consider strengths, and they assume ordinary Americans will be just as turned on by the choice as they are -- so long as the Dems' negative characterizations of Ryan can be counteracted by some ferocious rah-rah.

Covering Ryan's unveiling for National Review, Robert Costa did a bang-up job, remarking on the scene, "It feels like the Fourth of July, or Veterans Day. 'Patriotism' and 'upbeat' are the two words that spring to mind." A plane running overhead with an anti-Romney streamer he described as "taunting the crowd, which is mostly families and veterans"; a speech by "Governor McDonnell, a onetime vice-presidential contender and a veteran" mentions that "the GOP ticket has a 'Reagan-Romney' vision."

Despite Costa's self-evident buy-in, he admitted Ryan himself "may not be a rousing speaker," but said of Ryan and his wife that "the chemistry between the pair was evident, but what really made an impression was the reaction of veterans and suburban moms to Ryan."

Erick Erickson, the great rightblogger litmus-tester who had warned Romney to tack right or else, allowed as how "it is not enough, but it is an excellent start to a reboot."

"So what about Republicans and other Romney supporters who don't think much of the pick? What should they do?" said Professor William Jacobson. "How about this: Shut up... Your either are with Ryan or against him. And if you're against him publicly, then you're with Obama."

The scolding was unneeded. Even rightbloggers who'd been lukewarm toward Romney were psyched by the addition of Ryan. Though the Congressman's manner when he explains his Medicare cuts reminds us of a corporate trainer teaching insurance people how to deny claims, rightbloggers considered him a rock star.

"Ryan is a master salesman -- he could sell a drowning man a bowling ball" was Christian Schneider's unfortunate analogy at National Review. Even worse: "If any elected official in America can sugarcoat the need to slow government's growth, it is the man from Wisconsin whose wedding announcement noted he 'does his own skinning and butchering and makes his own Polish sausage and bratwurst.'"

"He will get all the attention Palin did and more, and it will help our side," said Richard Baehr of American Thinker, without saying why it should be different this time. "He's got Sarah Palin's credentials with them without any of her (to me adorable) drawbacks," gushed John O'Sullivan at National Review. "He's either Sarah-heavy or Palin-Lite, whichever you prefer. Which means he doesn't grate culturally on non-Middle America." (Of course, Ryan hasn't had a reality show yet.)

"Well, look, the 'gender gap' will evaporate instantly now that Paul Ryan's on the ticket," declared Robert Stacy McCain. "Trust me on this -- chicks dig him. It was like Sinatra with a crowd of bobby soxers at the Paramount in 1944. Elvis at the Overton Park bandshell in Memphis in 1956. Total swoonsville." McCain went on to celebrate the "tall blue-eyed GOP running mate" and "the square-jawed presidential candidate" with his "magnetic smile," so maybe he was just projecting.

Several rightbloggers predicted that Ryan would help not only in Wisconsin, but in all contiguous states, because, as American Thinker's Thomas Lifson put it, "he exemplifies characteristics in which Midwesterners take pride"

"I suspect Romney chose Ryan to help him run a better and stronger version of the campaign he has already been running," said National Review's Yuval Levin -- that is, a campaign that "uses its own policy proposals to convey a sense of competence and direction more than to broadcast very specific intentions," he said. "Romney knows that he has largely failed to convey that sense so far..."

So, how does adding Ryan "convey a sense" without "very specific intentions" more successfully? "I'm not sure it will mean that the campaign puts out more detailed alternatives to Obamacare or a more fully fleshed out tax or education plan," said Levin; also, "attempts to tie Romney to some specific long-term spending cuts in the Ryan budget don't seem that plausible either -- is a presidential candidate liable for every position his running mate has held?" Levin continued, compulsively it seemed, to distance sense from specific intentions: "Romney can easily say, as indeed he has, that he supports the goals of the Ryan budget... but is open to various means of achieving those goals and has his own ideas regarding a number of them. That has always been Ryan's own attitude, after all... What exactly is the smoking gun here?"

On the other hand, Ryan speaks "the language of the American middle class family," Levin said, and possesses "an innate decency and Midwestern personality that defies all vilification."

Some of the brethren went straight to their ultimate accolade. "You know how people are always looking for the next Reagan?" said Kathryn J. Lopez at National Review . "There may just be something of what they're looking for in Romney..."

"Romney-Ryan are firmly offering to complete the Reagan Revolution," said James Pethokoukis at the American Enterprise Institute. "The best analogy is, I think, the late 1970s when Reagan became the candidate... I think Ryan has that Reagan-like quality," said Charles Krauthammer.

"Romney-Ryan: Best Since Ronald Reagan. It Even Sounds Like the Right RR," headlined Quin Hillyer at The American Spectator. "For conservatives, the Initials R.R. evoke Ronald Reagan," Bridget M. Bush of Elephants in the Bluegrass informed us. "The Gipper would be most pleased with Romney's selection of Paul Ryan."

"Whenever President Obama goes negative personal, he'll look like the petty, vindictive juvenile he is," fantasized Let Freedom Ring. "That's because Paul Ryan has President Reagan's trait of optimism."

"In naming a running mate with intellect, gravitas, seriousness of purpose, courage, charm, and communications skills, Romney's recruitment of Ryan recalls another Republican 'R' -- Reagan," said Deroy Murdock at National Review.

"No doubt there are many Democrats rubbing their hands in glee in contemplation of reviving some version of the ad that featured an actor playing Paul Ryan pushing a grandmother in a wheelchair off a cliff," said John Fund at National Review. "But the smarter ones are worried."

Fund did not name these "smarter ones," but laid the Reagan on good and thick: "Ryan has pointed out to me that no Republican has carried his district for president since Ronald Reagan in 1984... Second, Democrats know that Ryan has Reaganesque qualities that make him appealing to independent, middle-class voters... Echoes of Ronald Reagan at his best." To make sure readers got the message, he also compared Obama to Jimmy Carter.

This reminds us of those heady days of 1980, when George H.W. Bush picked Ronald Reagan to be his Vice-Presidential candidate.

That liberals also approved of the appointment for their own, very different reasons was proof to some rightbloggers that they were scared.

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