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Run, Paul, Run!

August 21, 2011

The widely overused phrase “It’s the economy, stupid!” just popped up in my mind, only hours after I was thinking that it is very annoying how often it is used. The phrase came to my mind in connection with my considering the chances of a Paul Ryan bid for the presidency. Philip Klein is a self-professed friend of the idea of President Ryan, but publicly worries about the fact that he sees unsurmountable obstacles for Ryan, should he decide to run. Klein has strong doubts that Ryan would be able to win voters beyond a group of white intellectual conservatives.

I say: relax. Should Ryan decide to run (and the French Cowboy certainly hopes he does), then there is no reason why he shouldn’t be able to win the support of a broad portion of the electorate. For one thing, it’s impossible to predict how popular a candidate will become before he or she is out there and gets into contact with people. The personality of the candidate, the way he presents himself, the way he is presented by others and external factors, including their timing, create a far too multidimensional network to foretell how it will play out.

Furthermore, the number one thing that this election is about is the economy including entitlement reform. And this is exactly where Ryan is at his best. More than any of the current candidates, Ryan has already proven intelligence, seriousness, courage and conservative beliefs in the context of the debate over fiscal reform. Considering that the economy is the most pressing issue on the electorate’s mind in general these days, it is hard to concur with the argument that Ryan’s not being known for his stand on abortion is a significant weakness, as Mr Klein seems to argue.

I can imagine the Tea Party movement to fully support Ryan. When it comes to tackling the budget deficit, Ryan has walked the walk rather than just talked the talk more than any of the candidates so far. This isn’t to say that Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry aren’t believable when they speak of how they would try to turn the economy around and bring America back on the path to prosperity, nor that they haven’t executed good ideas in that regard. But Paul Ryan has actually bothered to go through the nitty gritty of unattractive number crunching and to take on a leadership role where the prize was not winning an election but contributing to a sustainable economic path for the nation. His mission wasn’t (or isn’t) one connected with personal glory, on the contrary, it was one to more likely cost him his political career and earn him a lot of negative news stories.

The reason it didn’t, and the reason the French Cowboy thinks it might actually make him president, is that voters understand the urgency of the situation and are willing to listen to serious suggestions. They sense that Ryan is offering a serious suggestion, one driven by an earnest desire to lead the way out of a bad situation, not by politics. Also, it is one that strikes the balance between careful consideration for those who have reasonably relied on the status quo on the one hand, and radical changes of a magnitude needed in order to be effective in achieving sustainability on the other. In other words: it might actually work, politically as well as technically.

In his pragmatist and yet disciplined approach to the fiscal situation and his proven willingness to step up and lead, Paul Ryan is the antithesis to President Leading-from-behind-let’s-give-another-speech-and-then-go-golfing Obama. Where Paul Ryan has presented to the American people a well-designed, serious plan and treated them as adults, Obama’s preferred strategy is to demagogue his political adversaries and to fight an army of strawmen. Who cares about executive experience when the characters of the comparables are so telling? I for one would rather vote for a man who has proven his mettle in the kiddie pool to the extent that he could, than for a man who was in the Olympic sized pool but spent his time lying on a floating mattress, blaming bad luck for the economic draught.

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