Saturday morning, Mitt Romney, a man who rarely makes anyone happy, delighted and thrilled two groups of people who are rarely ever happy at the same time: Democrats and hard-core conservatives.
He thrilled the latter by picking Paul Ryan to be his vice-presidential running mate. Paul Ryan, if you don’t know by the media blitz over the past 24 hours, is a 42-year-old seven-term Congressman from Wisconsin.
He’s fresh-faced, he’s enthusiastic, and he’s pretty much beloved in GOP circles for putting forth a budget last year that slashed spending, cut Medicare, and ordered all cute kittens and puppies to be sent to Russia (I read the fine print, that was in there).
Paul Ryan, you see, had a really bright future as a Republican because he, alone among his colleagues, actually put forth more than platitudes like “we need to rein in spending and cut the debt;” he actually put forth a plan on how to do it.
It happens to be a horrendous plan, but it was a plan nonetheless.
Meanwhile, Democrats like me are celebrating the Ryan pick for many reasons, and I’ll try to be brief here.
No. 1: Mitt Romney has made this entire campaign not about himself, but about Barack Obama. It’s been month after month of “Man, this guy is terrible,” without giving any specifics of his own.
Now, the Mittster has picked a guy loaded with specifics, and Mitt is going to have to own every one of ‘em. Severe, severe cuts to health care, Medicare, transportation, energy, science, you name it, it’s in the Ryan budget plan. And whether Mitt agrees with all of it or not, he’s going to be stuck with Ryan’s positions. You think Florida seniors are going to want to vote for a ticket with Ryan on it?
No. 2: Ryan’s much more charismatic than Romney. As they campaign together, that’ll be very clear to voters. Romney will look boring and uninteresting compared to his surrogate, making Mitt’s flaws even more apparent.
No. 3. This guy Ryan has never been elected by more than a few hundred thousand people. He’s never faced the kind of national scrutiny he’s about to endure. Sarah Palin was wildly popular, too, before millions got a look at her.
No.4: Ryan is vehemently anti-gay rights. That won’t play well with moderates at all.
So, yeah, like I said, I’m happy. I thought Obama was going to win this thing anyway. But with Romney picking Ryan, the whole discussion has shifted. And that’s not good for old Mitt Romney.
**And now, a video interlude. Vanderbilt football coach James Franklin did something very cool the other day; he was extolling the virtues of a walk-on player named Marc Panu when, out of the blue, he told the kid he’d earned a full scholarship.
Especially at a school like Vanderbilt, which is so expensive, this was a beautiful moment.
**Finally, a few final words about the last day of the Olympics. The London Games were fabulous, really exceptional in every way. (And how great is that photo above?)
Which is why I was glad that the USA men’s basketball team finished off the Games in style, winning a very entertaining gold-medal game over Spain.
Yes, you could say America is supposed to win gold when we have more of the world’s best in hoops than anyone else. But this team, from Coach K on down, carried itself with class for the 2nd straight Olympics. They played hard, played the right way, and you could tell on the medal stand how much it meant to them to win.
I’m sad the Olympics are over. I’ll miss the swimming and the track and the great stories and all the British flags. But I’m glad that American athletes all over did our country proud, including a men’s basketball squad that has embarrassed us in the past.
Can’t wait till 2014 and the next Olympics!