Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Next President Ryan

A Commentary

Jim Burroway

August 11th, 2012
YouTube Preview Image

Calling Dr. Freud. In this morning’s rollout of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice presidential running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney introduced Ryan as “the “next president of the United States” instead of as the next vice-president. After Ryan appeared on the stage erected in front of the U.S.S. Wisconsin — after all of the music, applause, and general fanfare died down — and just as Ryan was about to launch into his speech, Romney approached the microphone and said, “Every now and then, I’m known to make a mistake” to more laughter from the crowd.

Romney then said that he didn’t make a mistake in picking Ryan. Pundits will be debating that point over the next several months. As a caveat, I’ll remind you of my biases — I’m a Democrat and an Obama supporter (in case that somehow escaped your notice, although I have been critical of the President’s timidity at times) — and so I doubt that my saying that this is a mistake on Romney’s part will persuade many folks. But I do think that a look at the evidence is in order.

The Human Rights Campaign rates Rep. Ryan a “zero” on its scorecard, although I do think there’s room to argue  whether the HRC’s criteria are all that informative on the bigger issues. They certainly don’t help in drawing distinctions between Ryan and Romney — or Obama and Biden — since the HRC only rates representatives and senators. Romney, for his part, has a few silver linings on LGBT issues if you look hard enough, but sometimes you have to squint to see them. He says he doesn’t want to reimpose “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (although he says that repealing it was a mistake), he opposes marriage equality (and supports a federal marriage amendment banning same-sex marriage) but he had said that he supported civil unions (that was before he dumbed it down to, essentially, hospital visitation rights and couple of other bones). And, oh yeah, he kinda sorta thinks Boy Scouts should allow gay kids to sign up.

Ryan’s positions appear to be even more to the right on these issues than Romney. In 2006, he supported Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment which banned both same-sex marriage and civil unions. He voted against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act. He voted for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act five years ago, but he’s withdrawn his support since then.

I don’t know Ryans position on gay Boy Scouts. But that looks like our last hope for a possible pro-gay position. I’m not optimistic.

And this, I think, is just one example which strengthens the argument that Romney’s choice for a running mate is a mistake. Romney is down by a significant number of percentage points in just about every poll out there, and the gap has only been widening in many of the swing states. Conventional wisdom holds that the election is going to come down to those who are still undecided — which means that it comes down to those who think Romney and Obama both are similarly good (or similarly bad) candidates. Ideologues and true believers have picked sides long ago, and now it’s down to those who find things about both candidates that they like. You know, moderates.

Which is why it was presumed that Romney was going to have to find some way to appeal to those moderates, either by moving toward the center or by filing down some of the sharp edges from those points that scare moderates off. It’s why Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rob Portman (R-OH) were seen as having the inside track. They both represented swing states, and they both represented constituencies that were not solidly in Romney’s camps.

But when you look at it, Ryan also represents a constituency that is not solidly in Romney’s camp as well: tea partiers, a group that is increasingly seen in a negative light among moderate voters. They’ve never trusted Romney, and they remain a rebellious, restive constituency.  Ryan is their darling, and they’ll pick Ryan over Romney any day. And that appears to be the calculation that Romney’s making. But if he was going to make a play for moderates, this is not the pick he should have made. Tea partiers are famous for their disdain of moderates.

But here’s the thing that I find even more interesting. Ryan’s claim to fame is his very detailed budget proposals, which are solidly aligned with the tea party line. Romney’s campaign has been built almost entirely on not being specific about much of anything. He’s worked hard at perfect opacity on as many  issues as he can get away with. Ryan’s budget proposals, on the other hand, are filled with some very frightening specifics. The debate will now shift to Ryan’s policy proposals and not Romney’s, largely because it’s often hard to figure out what Romney’s policy proposals really are. It’s not at all difficult to figure out Ryan’s.

Romney’s gaffe today in introducing Ryan as the next president will undoubtedly generate a lot of laughs. But I suspect that it will serve as a fitting metaphor for where the campaign is headed. It’s no longer the Romney campaign. It’s the Ryan-Romney campaign. And that’s what makes Romney’s selection a huge mistake.

Comments

POST COMMENT | COMMENT RSS 2.0

DenguyFL
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

As a Floridian,I would venture to say with his immigration policy and now Ryan’s turning Medicare into vouchers he just threw away this state. Florida is a huge electoral state to piss away.

Stephen
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

I think it’s always been the Koch/Adelson campaign.

Hunter
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

I’d say that Romney just handed the election to Obama with this pick — the Ryan budget is really a poison pill — but I’m not all that confident in the Obama campaign’s ability to capitalize on it, particularly in light of the framing that’s going to come from the Adelson/Koch-funded ad campaign.

Hue-Man
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

Is this bad news for TeaParty/GOP candidates down-ticket? NY 26 would suggest a big problem: “Democrats contend that the vote is actually a referendum on the budget plan of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).” http://www.examiner.com/article/democrats-win-new-york-s-26th-congressional-district

Snowman
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

As a former Christian myself and someone familiar with the Fundie mentality…I think it’s likewise a huge, HUGE mistake for Romney (A Mormon) to pick someone who has openly said he is a fan of Ayn Rand and that her books were a big influence on him…Rand was an Atheist (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but she also openly stated that she hated Christianity.

Harp on the Rand issue it will NOT play well with the religious right. Marco Rubio, Tim Pwalenty, Hell, even Mike Huckabee would have been better picks than this guy. You can’t risk alienating the Christians and win as a Republican, period.

He’s too extreme, it’s another Palin type situation, only worse this time.

Snowman
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

For that matter…while Ryan claims to be a Christian his policies are anything but Christian, really.

Lucrece
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

And the LCR was DELIGHTED by the choice, as they were about McCain and Palin.

Did their balls drop out? Where’s the self-respecting LCR that denied endorsement to heterosexist candidates like Bush?

LCR loves to pretend it’s so far off GOProud’s ground, but they seem to constantly be sharing stances.

jpeckjr
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

In introducing him as the “next President,” was Mr. Romney possibly signaling a plan to resign after the first year so he can do something else he thinks he’s entitled to, like, be rich? No, probably not.

Maybe he was signalling that he’d rather vote for Ryan than for himself?

I think this shifts the race in several ways, making Ryan the more dominant personality since, you know, he actually has one.

cowboy
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

I can’t help but notice the makeup of the crowd at this ‘rollout’.

Did Romney’s camp strategically place the only African-American couple right behind the podium?

Romney has alienated about all demographics that matter in an election except for the Mormons…or people who vote for anyone with an “R” by the name.

TampaZeke
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

This also marks he FIRST time in history that the presidential ticket won’t include a Protestant Christian. And to many, if not most, Americans it will represent the FIRST time that the presidential nominee is not a Christian. These facts will be hard for my fundamentalist, die hard Republican parents to overlook.

Lindoro Almaviva
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

For a 2nd time in a row, a republican presidential candidate has picked someone who will, if notoutshine them, will take the attention from them. It didn’t work the first time….

TampaZeke
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

I was so afraid that Romney would choose someone who would take Florida. I couldn’t be happier with his pick of Ryan. Romney can now write off FLORIDA! He’ll even have trouble taking the Cuban vote now!

Mark F.
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

Ryan’s budget leaves the government bigger than ever at the end, contrary to liberal mythology. Defense is not really touched and the deficit is not eliminated. Ryan may sound like Ron Paul, but he’s just another conservative phony, enabled by the American people who want a lot of government goodies but don’t want to pay for them.

I’m not sure whether this pick helps or hurts Romney. Probably a wash. I think Ryan’s fiscal conservatism (as fake as it is) has its appeal to swing voters.

TampaZeke
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

Mark F., PLEASE provide ONE verifiable reference of a “liberal” claiming that the Ryan budget would shrink the government.

Don’t rush. We’ll stay right here and wait for your response.

Lucrece
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

Romney doesn’t need to court the Cuban vote because Cubans are reliably Republican…unfortunately. Yes, every other Hispanic resents them and their special government welfare perks.

Soren456
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

I don’t know how libertarians behave in an election they don’t like (stay home?), but it seems to me that Ryan is a candidate that can get them to the polls, and that they will, in fact, turn out for him. I think they have an influence–especially on campus–not yet appreciated by the two main parties. An appeal to them would pay off.

Even so, I suspect that Republican leaders consider the presidential race lost, and will devote more money and their most effective efforts to congressional and state races. And they will win.

Much as I’d like to be out working for Obama, I think it’s the smaller races that badly need manpower. There aren’t going to be any coattails this time.

Mark F.
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

Why would Ryan appeal to a libertarian? His fiscal conservatism is basically a fraud, plus he’s bad on civil liberties and pro-war.

Donny D.
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

jpeckjr wrong,

Maybe he was signalling that he’d rather vote for Ryan than for himself?

That’s it exactly. Eddie Munster champions the rabidly pro-wealthy politics that richpig Romney must love but feels he can’t fully admit to before the election. Ryan’s other politics Rmoney either agrees with or doesn’t care much about.

TampaZeke
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

Mark F., Still waiting…

Donny D.
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

Mark F., in what ways do you see Paul Ryan being a “conservative phony”?

(I’m not gonna disagree with you, by the way, I’m just interested in thinking that isn’t my own.)

Donny D.
August 11th, 2012 | LINK

Mark F., in what ways do you see Paul Ryan being a “conservative phony”?

(I’m not gonna disagree with you, by the way, I’m just interested in thinking that isn’t my own.)

Lord_Byron
August 12th, 2012 | LINK

@Snowman
Rand also stated that altruism was a sin, but of course Ryan is now denying that he was impacted by Rand’s philosophy. Even though he stated that he joined public service because of Rand, weird I know, he gave out Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents, and he tried to get his interns to read Atlas. Ryan is probably the worse selection for Romney, which makes it even better for liberals like myself.

Having said that, if Romney/Ryan actually wins I just hope that the senate and house go to the democrats because the Ryan plan is just disastrous. What concerns me most is that Ryan feels the reason tuition at colleges is so high is that people are getting financial aid from the government, a position Romney seems to share. Part of his budget would cut pell grants by 200 Billion and would cut off 1 million students from being eligible.

Though have to say I loved with Romney’s spokeswoman stated that if someone lived in Romney’s MA they would have health insurance.

Andrew
August 13th, 2012 | LINK

Few things worth noting:

1) Ryan is fairly uniformly anti-gay (anti-marriage, anti-adoption, pro-DADT), with the exception a stated support for anti-discrimination on the basis of employment.

2) Obama made an identical slip-of-the-tongue when introducing Biden as his running mate in 2008. Make nothing of this.

3) TampaZeke said: This also marks he FIRST time in history that the presidential ticket won’t include a Protestant Christian. And to many, if not most, Americans it will represent the FIRST time that the presidential nominee is not a Christian. I assume you mean for the Republican party… Barack Obama is a Protestant Christian, so if they “want to be safe and vote for the Protestant”, they know how to vote…

Andrew
August 13th, 2012 | LINK

Byron – have a look at top analytical sites. There is virtually no chance that the House will swing Dem. Also, this is the year the big Dem surge in 2006 comes up for a re-election (meaning that more of the seats up for re-election are held by Dems)… Current projects suggest that the Dems will lose seats in the Senate, and the Senate will end up either 50/50 or 51/49 Dem. If it’s 50/50, remember that the VP suddenly becomes very important because he breaks the tie in the Senate. If the Dems take the White House, they’ll pretty much have everything sown up (again), and you can bank on another rough decade for America.

Andrew
August 13th, 2012 | LINK

Sorry, that last sentence should read “if the GOP takes the White House… “

Lord_Byron
August 13th, 2012 | LINK

Andrew,

I am foreseeing another four years of the filibuster which will mean that unless they get 60 votes they will not get anything done.

Andrew
August 13th, 2012 | LINK

I predict that if the GOP runs the tale they’ll do away with the filibuster rule.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required)
(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.