Romney has grooved a fastball right over the middle of the plate. The question is, will the Democrats smash it out of the park, or pop it up?
I agree the Ryan choice is all about nailing down the right-wing base, and that Romney is still not sure of their support. I'm also sure that no matter how hard Romney tries, he won’t be able to disassociate himself from the Ryan budget, assuming the Democrats, and the Obama campaign in particular, are at all competent. I think this makes most of the salient points:
Presumably, Romney’s main reason for picking Ryan is not his early deficit-busting record but his more recent rise to celebrity as a crusading policy wonk determined to tame the federal government. Romney, who has been extremely vague about what he would do if elected, will now own Paul Ryan’s ideas, which include privatizing Social Security, turning Medicare into a voucher program, bloc-granting and drastically cutting Medicaid, and reducing discretionary spending to levels that would affect every popular government program. This Ryan agenda will now fill the vacuum created by Romney’s unwillingness to lay out the specifics of his own plan. Even before this (apparent) announcement, Democrats were planning on tying Romney to Ryan’s policy platform. Now Romney has done it for them.
It would help had Obama been a true champion of the middle class during his first term, but in fact, his administration’s loyalty was to the banks and bankers, who have abandoned him anyway for one of their own, in light of the fact that he hurt their feelings with some mild criticism every once in a while. But here, Obama benefits, for while he has really been ineffectual in many respects (consider the hopelessly inadequate mortgage relief program), he has been demonized as a radical so much by the plutocrats and Republicans that he can plausibly claim to be the champion of the middle class, as indeed and alas, he is, for he’s all we have.
I’m optimistic that the Democrats can get the bat on this ball. There’s a good possibility that Ryan will make the Palin pick look like a stroke of genius. For all her clownishness, there was never any impression that she would drive policy, unless, of course, McCain dropped dead. But this pick is a very clear signal, whether Romney admits it or not, of the direction in which he will be taking the country. It’s a direction in which virtually no one wants to go, and if the Democrats can merely convince most Independents of the truth, the election is in the bag, at least for Obama. This is also a signal that the Romney team, from the man at the top down, is singularly incompetent.