The decision to add Paul Ryan to the Republican presidential campaign has, once and for all time, exposed the limp, rudderless vacancy that is the core essence of Willard Mitt Romney. Over the eighteen years he has been on the political stage, Mr. Romney has changed positions more often than most people change batteries. By tapping Ryan, and thus agreeing to take on the fourteen years of far-right baggage Ryan brings with him, Romney has all but announced to the world that he is folding his hand and ceding control of the party to the whacked-out denizens of his right flank.
Here is Paul Ryan in one sentence: He is an acolyte of Ayn Rand’s sinister school of thought that human beings are only worth what they can earn or be sold for in the marketplace, the author of the blueprint Romney used to craft his notorious budget plan to raise taxes on 95% of Americans while cutting taxes for those who share his rarefied financial atmosphere, the latest in a long line of brigands seeking to eviscerate Medicare and make growing old in America the equivalent of growing poor again, a job-killer who wants to do away with Pell Grants in an age when educated workers are becoming harder and harder to find, a family friend of Big Oil, which explains his virulent hatred for any attempts to safeguard the environment, as evidenced by his oft-repeated claims that climate change is a giant conspiracy he says is invalidated whenever snow happens to fall, which explains his vote to overthrow the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas pollution, his vote to block the USDA from preparing for climate change, and his vote to kill higher light bulb efficiency standards for reasons passing understanding, and let’s not forget that he was a member of that very very very special cadre of House Republicans who signed a bill to make fertilized eggs into people so as to outlaw abortion, in vitro fertilization and many forms of birth control.
Why Paul Ryan? The answer lies in the cold bowl of pudding that is Mitt Romney’s personal and political integrity.
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Romney achieved precisely one (1) thing serving in the lone office he’s managed to win in eighteen years of electioneering: a functioning health care system that covers most everyone in the state of Massachusetts. Yet he has spent this entire presidential campaign running from his own brainchild as if the Hound of the Baskervilles was snarling at his heels, all because the far-right base of his party chose to repudiate his signature achievement as a Republican governor because a Black Democratic president took his idea and championed it into national law. Anyone with even a rudimentary spine would have the fortitude to stand up for the only thing they ever got done in political life, but not Mitt. He gibbered and jabbered, and eventually folded like wet newsprint.
As a candidate, Romney has time and again pointed to his business experience as the main reason why people should vote for him. Yet, in an upcoming interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd that was leaked on Friday, Romney all but begged President Obama to stop talking about his business record during the campaign: “Our campaign would be – helped immensely if we had an agreement between both campaigns that we were only going to talk about issues and that attacks based upon – business or family or taxes or things of that nature.” Really, Mitt? Really?
Since he began running for president six years ago, Mitt Romney has been hedged in by his right flank to an increasingly great degree, entirely because the man has evinced no core set of beliefs for them to cleave to or argue against. The far right has had to contend with him and his utter lack of convictions in these last two presidential elections, so they kept pushing him rightwards in the hope that he would become one of them, and like any jellyfish in a rip tide, Romney went with the flow…until Saturday, when he found himself beached on Tea Party Island.
What Romney has now in his running mate is not just a Times Square-sized billboard advertising his fealty to the wildly unpopular social and economic policies of the Tea Party right. Paul Ryan is also a watchdog serving that far-right, a guy in the co-pilot’s seat who isn’t going to let Pudd’nhead Mitt soil Ryan’s conservative credentials with any of the undignified waffling we’ve seen on a regular basis from the presumed GOP nominee since he first stuck his tepid toe in the political waters back when everyone thought Clinton would be a one-termer, too. These people do not like Romney at all; he is a means to an end for them, like a condom or a wad of toilet paper. They own him now, period, end of file.
Mitt Romney does not want to talk about Romneycare. He does not want to talk about his business record. With the addition of Paul Ryan to the ticket, there is suddenly a whole trainload of new stuff to talk about, and Mitt better say exactly the right things, or the watchdog he’s running with just might decide to show his teeth and sink them someplace tender. Ryan isn’t concerned; he’ll still be on the ticket for his Wisconsin House seat in November, so he has two chances at public office before the day is done. As far as the Tea Party is concerned, they own the GOP at this point, so they got what they came for, win or lose.
Thirteen Tuesdays from now, we’ll see what Mr. Romney gained, and lost, by handing his fate over to the people who like him least in the world. A man would be worried about something like that. Pudd’nhead ain’t care.