Friday, August 17, 2012

"Romney's Last, Best Hope"

As some of you may know, I have a column in the Frederick News Post that runs every other month or so. Here is my most recent piece, which discusses the role that the upcoming GOP convention may play in Governor Romney’s future prospects.

When you put your opinions and your byline out there, you better have a thick skin. Some people who disagree with you will take potshots at you personally (e. g. calling me a “moron,” as someone does in the comments section following my piece) or cruelly dismiss your views and abilities as inferior (such as one person did via email).

But, it’s all part of the game, I suppose. 

I have been known to take a few shots at people whose actions, judgment, and/or character I question. I need to accept being held to the same standard.

However, I did want to respond directly to one of the people who left a comment at the end of the column, because I thought he raised a reasonable point that required answering.

Someone named “Steve” made the following observation:

“Again, the pace of this column does not track events of the day. A blogger should know you need to be on top of TODAYS news/topics, or at least have some NEW perspective. Did this get edited a week ago? Move along, nothing to see here... EVERYONE else is talking Veep. --Steve.”

OK, fair point. My column about the convention debuted just after Romney announced his VEEP pick, which certainly seemed out of step with breaking events.

I thought about doing a VEEP piece, but was deterred from doing so for one very logical reason

Had I chosen the VEEP-stakes as a topic, I could have taken two potential approaches: either I could have argued as to what qualities Romney should look for in a running mate, or I could have argued in favor of one of the frequently mentioned candidates.

Neither assignment is enviable when you've only got 500 words to play with, but I digress.

Anyway, as my column was due the Friday before it ran on Monday, I was left with the possibility that – had Romney announced his pick during the intervening weekend, which he did – whatever I wrote would be superseded and rendered obsolete by events.

So, I decided to write about a topic which – unlike the VEEP-stakes, which was the subject of intense speculation even before Romney announced Ryan was his choice – few people seemed to be discussing: the GOP convention coming up in Tampa in a few weeks. 

I thought the time was right to remind people of this event and the important role conventions can play. And, because I am a former convention staffer (Philadelphia, 2000), I have a special interest in and perspective of that topic.

So what do I think of the Ryan pick? 

Well, I was pulling for Ohio Senator Rob Portman, because I figured that he might help Romney in a state crucial to his chances. Upon learning of Ryan’s selection, I was skeptical for two reasons.

First, the last two sitting House members who ran for vice president – Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and William Miller in 1964 – went down in flames along with their respective presidential nominees. You have to go all the way back to John Nance Garner in 1932 to find someone who successfully leapt from the House to the vice presidency.

(However, it's appropriate to point out that Ferraro and Miller were obscure, back bench House members, whereas Ryan - the sitting Budget Committee chairman - is a member of the House leadership, as was Speaker Garner.)

Second, Rep. Ryan’s activism on budget issues leaves him prone to the kind of demagoguery we have already seen coming out of the Democrats, especially with respect to Medicare.

Still, it’s a bold pick, and Ryan projects as a strong, articulate, effective campaigner. In short, he’s as charismatic as Sarah Palin with the added bonus of having actual intellectual substance.

One thing’s for sure…I can’t wait to see Ryan demolish Joe “Y’all will be in chains” Biden in the vice presidential debates. That may justify the pick all by itself.

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