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Paul Ryan, the un-Obama

Liberals“, Mary Katharine Ham observes echoing a point heard round the blogosphere, “are positively gleeful that Romney has picked someone whose positions they can gleefully demagogue. But there’s another sense, even among national political reporters, that Team Obama should be careful what it wishes for.”

They should be careful particularly because Paul Ryan is, in many ways, the exact opposite of Barack Obama.  To be sure, they are both relatively young men who are intelligent and speak well.

Mr. Obama, however, gained acclaim not for the policy proposals he authored nor the reforms he had championed, but instead for the words he spoke and the image he projected.  The Democrat earned the affection of liberals by his successful creation of that image, the reformer who would stand up to entrenched interests and end politics as usual.  He just didn’t specify how he would accomplish all that nor could he point  to actual entrenched interests he had challenged or political systems he had changed.

The Democratic glee comes from the fact that Ryan is quite the opposite of Mr. Obama, having staked out clearly the kinds of policy proposals he favors and the reforms, he believes, America needs in order to forestall the looming fiscal crisis.

It’s much easier to run against particular policies than it is to run against the idealized image of the change agent we have been waiting for.

In doing the hard work of translating his ideas into policies, Ryan has earned the affection of many conservatives and libertarians, including yours truly.  And that is why, to borrow Mary Katharine’s expression, Team Obama should be careful what it wishes for.  Yes, those policies may make him a target for Democrats, but they all show him to be a serious man with a plan.  And this may be the year when Americans want leaders with just such a plan.

Ryan is very much the un-Obama, a man whose success depends not on a vague promise, but on an actual record.  And with a near-stagnant economy and skyrocketing deficits, Americans may prefer Ryan’s stern substance to Obama’s lofty potential, still not realized after three-and-one-half years in office.

Democrats may be chomping at the bit to demonize Ryan for his plan, yet the Wisconsin Republican has shown the capacity to defend his plan and the imperative to make tough choices about our nation’s finances.  Thus, writes Jonathan Tobin in Commentary, “there is no guarantee that the liberals’ bet that scare tactics will prevail over the demand for rational reform will not prevail.

And Paul Ryan has proven to be a champion of rational reform.  Four years ago, people could be content with the promise of change.  Today, people may be wary of such amorphous promises and may more readily embrace a candidate who has specified the particular reforms he favors.

If people this year are looking for substance, the contrast between Paul Ryan’s record and Barack Obama’s image could help the Republicans in ways that most pundits today can’t even envision.



  1. Ryan isn’t running against Obama, Dan. Romney is. Ryan wouldn’t have a chance to be the “un-Obama” until eight years from now, if Romney gets elected, reelected, and lives through his second term.

    Sorry. If Ryan was willing enough to join the Romney ticket, he should have run to be the Republican nominee. But, he didn’t because Republican voters as a whole did not have the cojones, despite pleas from Gay Patriot. From August 2011:

    I’m still holding out hope that Marco Rubio & Paul Ryan hear the desperate call of their fellow Americans to defeat Barack Milhous Obama.

    But, whether for selfish reasons, lack of imagination, or both, Ryan and the Republican Party did themselves and the American people a disservice by not stepping out and taking a real chance. Rather, they played it safe. And, now, we get to pretend that it is something bold. Yeah, right. Ryan is increasing his profile for a presidential run in 2016. Smart move on his part.

    Comment by Cinesnatch — August 12, 2012 @ 3:24 am - August 12, 2012

  2. I can’t imagine that Romney will win over a lot of independent women voters with Ryan’s social issue baggage.

    Comment by Cinesnatch — August 12, 2012 @ 3:35 am - August 12, 2012

  3. Independent women (the kind that wants government to pay for contraception for their imaginary sex life) were never going to vote for anybody else than the mulatto with man boobs they were fawning over during the past 4 years. The republican ticket should care about people who does not vote with their hormones. And that includes you Cinesnatch

    Comment by susan — August 12, 2012 @ 5:02 am - August 12, 2012

  4. Social issue baggage? Who’s going to care, save those who wouldn’t vote for Ryan anyway? As long as he keeps the focus on economic/fiscal issues, that line of attack is the dog that won’t hunt (so to speak).

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — August 12, 2012 @ 9:48 am - August 12, 2012

  5. As I see it, Ryan’s sole purpose should be to articulate to Americans what our fiscal problems are, what the democrats have been doing about them, why they haven’t worked and what his approach will accomplish.

    Comment by Richard Bell — August 12, 2012 @ 10:01 am - August 12, 2012

  6. lot of independent women voters

    First: do any of us know who these “independent women voters” are in demographic terms?

    Second: if the “independent women voters” split 50/50 or 60/40 or whatever, “a lot” of them can be said to have voted against or for a candidate for a million imagined, but useful propaganda reasons.

    Third: This talking point is the natural bastard child of the imaginary “war on women.” What will likely follow is a charge that Ryan is acting on orders from the Pope and he is going to take birth control away from all women.

    Comment by heliotrope — August 12, 2012 @ 10:04 am - August 12, 2012

  7. The local newspaper (Maine) comment section is overflowing with nasty, snide, ill informed comments from the liberals. As if any candidate would get anything less. The people commenting make it seem that there could have been a VP pick that they would have had the same reaction to. You can take their comments and replace the name, Ryan, with anyone except for the killing off of granny.

    I am hoping the more reasonable independent voter will see just how vicious these attacks are and will be repulsed.

    Mrs. Palin was scolded for not staying home with her children. Mrs. Ryan is being scolded for “taking a back seat” to her husband and staying home with her children. Clearly, this is politics before principle.

    Comment by TnnsNe1 — August 12, 2012 @ 10:22 am - August 12, 2012

  8. Agree with your post with one exception. Can we just say it? – Obama is particulary intelligent and he is not a very speaker. When off the prompter he stumbles and stutters all the time and oftens commits bizarre gaffs. He is just not vey good in that catagory.

    Comment by Mike Dysart — August 12, 2012 @ 10:34 am - August 12, 2012

  9. Mike Dysart,

    I agree, but carry your thought one step further. How one speaks (especially extemporaneously) reveals how one’s mind is working; how one processes words and, most importantly, thoughts. In other words, Obama is just not as intelligent as all of those “lightbringer supporters” would have us all believe. And even with writing, remember, when Obama is on the telePrompter he’s not reading what he has written, he’s reading what someone else has written.

    All in all what I’m saying is that Obama would be better placed behind an anchor desk on the evening news than in the oval office. No wonder the MSM is in love with him.

    Comment by T — August 12, 2012 @ 11:08 am - August 12, 2012

  10. Ryan isn’t running against Obama, Dan. Romney is.

    Sorry, Vince, but Ryan is no Biden.

    When Romney chose Ryan he tacitly endorsed what Ryan stands for, not a young man from Wisconsin who is Catholic and white and a professional politician. He didn’t get the women’s vote, the black vote, the Jewish vote, the Hispanic vote or important Electoral College votes by his choice.

    He got the serious vote. The roll up our sleeves and save America vote. The conservatives and the TEA Party and a lot of Democrats and “independents” who do not want to Californicate the whole nation look at Ryan as the one and only guy in all of government who has stepped up to the plate with any kind of actual plan and a strong and good one as well.

    Let Obama and Fumbles Biden run on contraception and shoving granny off the cliff. Those who vote on dog fights are not going to vote on substance anyway. The “hope and change” mentality crowd is basically a drooling mass of whores looking for a bigger entitlement and a little love.

    Ryan is not going to be marginalized. He is neither “crying wolf” nor is he Chicken Little. The fact is that the financial sky is falling.

    We borrow more than 40 cents of every dollar we spend. Unemployment has been masked with phony accounting, but even the funny numbers don’t get below 8 per cent. A bunch of Americans are upside down in their Fannie/Freddie social justice engineered mortgages. Retirees are plenty worried over the solvency of medicare, social security, their pension funds and their investments. Small businessmen are economizing in every way to just hold on. Banks are still very much in trouble and very cautious about making loans. Entrepreneurs are sitting on their capital out of fear of not being able to plan because of what Obama taxes, Obamacare, Obama dictatorship by executive order and pernicious regulation will bring.

    So, you have your Obama who is pulling the rug out from under the economy and the part of America who pays taxes and tries to play by the rules. Obama has the votes of the piggies who suck off the government teat.

    But Ryan is a real, true threat. Romney has the skills to bring the people together and create the plan and establish the metrics to carry out the project to a successful conclusion. As I understand it, Romney has had a success rate of over 80%. Restaurants and hotels would love to have an 80% rate as a base for sales and occupancy. An 80% productivity rate is great in any small business.

    Ryan has set forth a plan that stops the hemorrhaging and put the promises of the entitlements back on track. His plan never got beyond the total rejection stage from Obama and the Democrats. People know that. People know that Obama has produced nothing other than class warfare, a plan to chop down a small stand of timber (the 1%) and the virus known as Obamacare.

    Ryan is a very accomplished government insider. He knows the arcane rules and back waters of the House of Representatives. He has dealt with the lobbies, the vested interests of the executive departments, the wants and needs of his constituency. As Vice President, he would be President of the Senate and one very powerful force. I say again he has emerged from all of this as the only man in all of government who has stepped up to the plate with any kind of actual plan and a strong and good one as well.

    The battle is joined. Is the country going to do the hard work of restoring itself to plenty or are we going to bog ourselves down in the muck and mire of Fluke-poop and have contraceptive entitlement, gay marriage entitlement, seizing private wealth and funding the bureaucracy while throwing pennies to the masses, moving undocumented aliens to the front of all the desperate and good people who have stood and waited so long in the citizenship line?

    What are the chances that Obama/Biden are going to campaign on a positive plan to restore the economy and lay it out as a stark comparison to the Ryan plan?

    My prediction is that Obama will lie, demagogue, and tear down and nothing more in his campaign. What does he have to run on?

    Did you wish to make your case for Obama?

    Comment by heliotrope — August 12, 2012 @ 11:18 am - August 12, 2012

  11. it’s pretty clear that Ryan was chosen for the Content of his Character, not the Colour of his Skin.

    Representative Ryan already has one positive over Obama. He can get a budget through the house.

    Comment by The_Livewire — August 12, 2012 @ 11:48 am - August 12, 2012

  12. Heliotrope, you’re my hero. That was SPECTACULARLY said.

    Comment by VCmom — August 12, 2012 @ 12:16 pm - August 12, 2012

  13. We’re facing a 16 trillion dollar bill for (mostly) entitlements.

    Now according to Liberals, “conservatives don’t give out entitlements”. Is it safe then to conclude that government is asking us to pay for trillions of dollars worth of liberal ideas?

    No conservative in his right mind would give home loans to people who couldn’t possibly hope to ever pay them back. The “failed policies of the past” are obviously also ‘Liberal’ policies.

    The ‘failed policies of the present’ are far more dangerous than “the failed policies of the past” ever were.

    Comment by gastorgrab — August 12, 2012 @ 12:55 pm - August 12, 2012

  14. it’s pretty clear that Ryan was chosen for the Content of his Character, not the Colour of his Skin.

    Great way to sum it up. On that score, Ryan is indeed the opposite of Obama.

    Ed Hudgins of The Atlas Society, on “Paul Ryan’s Objective Virtues”:

    Focus on reality

    One of the most appalling vices of most paternalist politicians today is their flagrant evasion of the objective reality before their very eyes. Specifically, they punish the most productive individuals with high taxes and heavy-handed regulations, and they redistribute more wealth than actually exists. They evade the fact that such policies cannot be sustained, that they cannot destroy the wealth creators and then demand more wealth, that they cannot consume more than they produce.

    Western Europe, epitomized by Greece, is collapsing because governments have followed such policies and now are running out of victims. There is just no more money for politicians to steal.

    Obama’s America is on the same path as Europe. The federal government borrows 40 cents for every dollar it spends, and the national debt now equals the amount of wealth produced each year….

    …Paul Ryan… understands what is in store for America if reality is not faced right now… One might rightly question the particulars of his plan. One might say it doesn’t go far enough. But Ryan is attempting to deal with the real world…


    My objection to Ryan is indeed that his approach is to make Big Government work. He just wants to be rational about out: he admits the obvious – that it’s not working, and can’t work in its present form – and wants to bring back just enough good stuff, like freedom and mathematics and pride in individual accomplishment, that it could be made to sort-of work for another 10-20 years.

    Of course the Democrats want NO freedom or mathematics or pride in individual accomplishment, so ‘Ryan delenda est’.

    And I, in turn, have no choice now but to vote for Romney-RYAN.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — August 12, 2012 @ 1:09 pm - August 12, 2012

  15. …Ryan [is] the one and only guy in all of government who has stepped up to the plate with any kind of actual plan and a strong and good one as well.

    Let Obama and Fumbles Biden run on contraception and shoving granny off the cliff.

    Another heliotrope classic! Gets to the meat.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — August 12, 2012 @ 1:23 pm - August 12, 2012

  16. As to comment #1, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen more contorted flailing. Example:

    If Ryan was willing enough to join the Romney ticket, he should have run to be the Republican nominee.

    So the Republican VP pick can’t accept his spot unless he ran for President. The Republican presidential pick, in turn, should only choose a VP from his defeated rivals. According to Cinesnatch. But the rest of the comment makes no more logical sense.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — August 12, 2012 @ 1:31 pm - August 12, 2012

  17. […] […]

    Pingback by Why Romney Picked Paul Ryan - Page 6 - Political Wrinkles — August 12, 2012 @ 2:49 pm - August 12, 2012

  18. The Democrats are obviously TERRIFIED of Ryan and the excitement he generates in the grassroots of the GOP. The funniest complaint I’ve heard so far is that Ryan doesn’t have enough BUSINESS EXPERIENCE. Give me a break! Romney is criticized for having TOO MUCH business experience. And let’s not forget that Ryan has been in the Congress for more than a decade, a lot more than Obama was before he was elected president. For a long time, I’ve thought that Ryan had presidential timber. Now we’ll find out if he really does.

    Comment by Dottie Laird — August 12, 2012 @ 3:43 pm - August 12, 2012

  19. If you’re a Republican, you have more likely accomplished something in life, whereas, if you’re a Democrat, you just talk about your accomplishments without ever doing anything substantial. Remember the old saying, those that can’t end up teaching.

    Comment by davinci — August 12, 2012 @ 3:55 pm - August 12, 2012

  20. Or, as in the case of Obaomao, you lecture others about their behavior and their lifestyles, and reject your own family:

    Some “family values” there, huh Barry Soetoro?

    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — August 12, 2012 @ 4:40 pm - August 12, 2012

  21. those that can’t end up teaching

    Spoken by someone who has never worked in Special Education.

    Comment by Cinesnatch — August 12, 2012 @ 5:28 pm - August 12, 2012

  22. Watching Ryan’s speech:

    You can tell he’s a policy wonk, a bit green. His timing is erratic. Just an observation; I’m that he’ll get better. And that I would be worse. 😉

    At the link is a second video, the one where Ryan gets Shifty Tim Geithner to admit that the Obama administration can’t solve America’s fiscal problems. “We’re not coming before you today to say we have a definitive solution to the long-term problem; what we do know is, we don’t like yours.”

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — August 12, 2012 @ 6:03 pm - August 12, 2012

  23. typo, “I’m -sure- that he’ll get better…”

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — August 12, 2012 @ 6:03 pm - August 12, 2012

  24. #21 – “Spoken by someone who has never worked in Special Education.”

    Well, that explains everything.

    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — August 12, 2012 @ 6:18 pm - August 12, 2012

  25. Palin on the Ryan pick – Thrilled, for all the right reasons:

    A counter-argument from the right – says Ryan is a Big Government guy beneath the surface (e.g., he voted for NCLB and TARP):

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — August 12, 2012 @ 6:46 pm - August 12, 2012

  26. I first had some trepidation when I heard of the Ryan pick, primarily because of most of what is mentioned here and the glee in which Democrats will be rehashing the same scare tactics and horrible personal attacks. But on second thought, they would be doing that no matter who Romney picked. So a guy with an actual plan, who can articulate his views clearly and debate them forcefully, who presents a good image of Republicans is a pretty good pick for Romney.

    Even so, he still has a deep bench of people who are all motivated to bring his message to voters even if most of them didn’t end up being his VP pick. The field is set, now is the time to come together for a common goal.

    Comment by Tim in MT — August 12, 2012 @ 7:35 pm - August 12, 2012

  27. ILC @ #14:

    My objection to Ryan is indeed that his approach is to make Big Government work.

    Ugh! Ryan and Romney both! But we can only dance with them or Obama-Biden and that means there is no hesitation in making the choice. I would only vote for Obama and Biden to be the first men to land on Mars.

    Ryan’s plan does not get into actually reducing the deficit. But, then, I am not sure that anyone really has a grasp of how to bring this runaway freight train to a halt and throw it into reverse.

    For now, I will accept remission while hoping and praying for a cure.

    Comment by heliotrope — August 12, 2012 @ 8:05 pm - August 12, 2012

  28. My objection to Ryan is indeed that his approach is to make Big Government work.

    Is there any politician who’s approach isn’t to make big government work? Even the tea party types are too much like that. I’m not sure what you or I might consider sufficiently limited government is politically viable. Even considering that, it isn’t very easy to determine what a politician’s true philosophy is, because (particularly with representatives) they are not acting on their own behalf. That Paul Ryan “rejects” Ayn Rand’s philosophy is troubling, as are his votes for bailouts.

    Comment by Rattlesnake — August 12, 2012 @ 9:58 pm - August 12, 2012

  29. Agreed.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — August 12, 2012 @ 9:58 pm - August 12, 2012

  30. 28 & 29: Agreed. That’s why I’m looking into property in other countries. The progressives have managed to exploit the childish, selfish, greedy moochers and looters in this country to the fabled “tipping point.” It’s become easier to VOTE for a living than to work for one. Adios.

    Comment by Bastiat Fan — August 12, 2012 @ 11:10 pm - August 12, 2012

  31. Bastiat Fan, I suggest Estonia.

    Comment by Rattlesnake — August 12, 2012 @ 11:20 pm - August 12, 2012

  32. Estonia. A beautiful country with energetic people all charged up over being out from under the Nazis and the communists.

    But ….. Unfortunately, because of their size and location, they are just one hob-nailed boot away from the next state socialist dictator on the move.

    Comment by heliotrope — August 13, 2012 @ 10:04 am - August 13, 2012

  33. […] Paul Ryan, the un-Obama […]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » The Ryan/Obama contrast:conservative competence contrasted with liberal rhetoric — August 13, 2012 @ 1:11 pm - August 13, 2012

  34. Congressman Ryan seems to have added something more to the ticket besides his knowledge of finance. Balls! When Governor Romney addressed the heckler and then told Obama to get his campaign out of the gutter it was the first time I´ve seen him display some moxey. Now I know that Obama´s days are numbered. His unemployment will be a marvelous addition to the statistic.

    Comment by Roberto — August 13, 2012 @ 1:50 pm - August 13, 2012

  35. But ….. Unfortunately, because of their size and location, they are just one hob-nailed boot away from the next state socialist dictator on the move.

    Estonians have shown that they know what to do when their economy collapses (unlike Greece, Spain, Italy, France, etc.). If not the United States, I can’t think of many other countries that seem the least bit desirable (maybe Singapore or Hong Kong).

    Comment by Rattlesnake — August 13, 2012 @ 7:12 pm - August 13, 2012

  36. “Paul Ryan, the Un-Obama” Love it!

    Comment by Seane-Anna — August 14, 2012 @ 12:39 am - August 14, 2012

  37. This is slightly off-topic, but very amusing nonetheless: fun Paul Ryan “facts” posted to the twitter hashtag #PaulRyanFacts. I can’t imagine anyone making any claims like those about Obama!

    Comment by Kurt — August 14, 2012 @ 4:34 pm - August 14, 2012

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