For the Tea Party and far right wing conservatives still celebrating Mitt Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan as his running mate, the early polls should feel like buckets of cold water. Ryan has barely moved the needle. Behind the kind public words for Ryan, privately many Republicans are extremely pessimistic.
I believe Romney made a huge mistake picking Ryan, in the process tacitly acknowledging that he was losing the election after a disastrous summer. Like John McCain in 2008, Romney attempted to use his VP pick as a “game change.” And like McCain, the result is likely to be the same come November. Both Republican nominees were within striking distance of Obama, but they forgot the first rule of picking a running mate: “do no harm.”
No, Paul Ryan probably won’t demonstrate staggering incompetence in his first interviews, as Sarah Palin did, essentially dooming the McCain-Palin ticket almost from the start. But the similarities are many, and all bad news for Republicans:
- Ryan’s not qualified to be president. Romney is a little younger than McCain, but nevertheless, the Vice President’s role as backup Commander in Chief is critical to the security of the country. Paul Ryan appears to be a smart guy, but he has never governed anything — at least Palin was governor of Alaska. Ryan, like Palin, has absolutely zero foreign policy experience. Ryan has never even run a political campaign larger than his Wisconsin congressional district. Just as millions of voters in 2008 decided that putting Palin a heartbeat away from the White House was irresponsible and unwise, it’s likely that millions more will arrive at the same conclusion with Ryan.
- Ryan believes embroyos and humans are equivalent. Ryan believes a human embroyo has the same rights as a living, breathing human being. Besides being absurd scientifically, in practice this of course means Ryan wants to outlaw not just all abortions regardless of circumstance, but many forms of birth control, AND even in vitro fertilization. Like Romney, Ryan wants to de-fund Planned Parenthood, which provides healthcare to millions of American women. Romney already is losing women voters to Obama by a wide margin; this pick will only widen the gap.
- Ryan wants the richest Americans to get richer, the poor to get poorer. As a supposedly devout Catholic, Ryan ought to be familiar with a little book called The Bible. Much of the New Testament consists of Jesus expressing compassion for the poor and condemning the rich. Yet Ryan, like most Republicans including Romney, advocates more tax cuts for the rich including reducing or eliminating the capital gains tax. It’s all there in black and white in Ryan’s infamous budget, his only claim to fame prior to being tapped by Romney. Many Americans don’t realize that MORE THAN TWO THIRDS of ALL CAPITAL GAINS TAXES are paid by the RICHEST 1%. The capital gains tax rate is already at historic lows thanks to (who else) George W Bush. This is why Mitt Romney’s effective tax rate was an absurdly low 13.9% on the one tax return he released, and almost certainly less than that on the returns he refuses to release. Ryan also wants to lower the tax rate on the top bracket from 35% to 25%, yet another massive tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. For a guy whose passion is reducing the budget deficit, a huge tax giveaway to the richest Americans is extremely hypocritical.
- He wants to convert Medicare to a voucher system and take health insurance away from millions of Americans. Almost every other industrialized nation on earth has decided that government’s role should include making sure that its citizens have health insurance, because private companies always choose profits over the well being of people. Even Romney figured that out, which is why his signature achievement as governor of Massachusetts was Romneycare. Unfortunately, Romney flip-flopped on that to appeal to the Tea Party Republican base, and chose a running mate in Ryan who is so opposed to government run health insurance that he wants to revoke Medicare and replace it with a privatized voucher system. How is this going to play in the critical state of Florida?
The bottom line is Romney’s VP pick may excite his base, but gives Democrats the specific proof of misguided Republican priorities that Romney was only vague about before. Democrats simply could not have picked a better running mate for Romney and are barely concealing their glee. The Obama team was most concerned about facing Tim Pawlenty on the ticket, not Ryan. Now that they’ve dodged that bullet, with 12 weeks left to election day, their biggest concern has to be Republican backdoor attempts at voter suppression. Barring some unforeseen Octobear surprise or poor Obama debate performances, about the only feasible way Romney can win in November is to steal the election.
– Teddy Chen