The Wall Street Journal’s website has a couple of columns that we assume will be in Monday mornings edition. We’ve highlighted two of the stories below with a few takeaway quotes.
Kimberley A. Strassel: Why Romney Chose Ryan
His running mate offers Romney the opportunity to explain to Americans that they have a choice between national stagnation and renewal.
Mr. Ryan provides the crucial shift in emphasis, the opportunity to go on offense. We will now have a focus on, and explanation of, the choice between stagnation and renewal. This is what Mr. Ryan excels at—not just crafting ideas, but explaining them in a positive and serious way. This ability is why the congressman—despite his supposedly extremist reform blueprint and budget (says the left)—has continued to win a district that in 2010 went for Mr. Obama.
Democrats will attack anyway. To their disappointment, Mr. Ryan is a well-vetted, 14-year congressman, and a bit of a Boy Scout. There will be no fruitful dumpster-diving, a la Sarah Palin. Instead they are bragging about a 290-page Ryan opposition research paper from the left-wing super PAC American Bridge that focuses on the congressman’s plan to reform Medicare to offer a “premium support” option—a proposal he crafted with Oregon’s Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden. That plan would for the first time give seniors who want it the choice of government-funded private insurance options. The attacks will include the usual hysteria that Messrs. Romney and Ryan want to euthanize senior citizens.
The Ryan pick is the boldest move Mr. Romney has made as a presidential candidate—in this campaign, or his last. If he wants to win the White House, it needs to be just the beginning.
The Ryan Choice
Romney selects a leader of the GOP’s reform wing.
Vice Presidential choices rarely sway electoral outcomes, but they do reveal something about the men who make the choices. As Mr. Romney’s first Presidential-level decision, the selection speaks well of his governing potential. He broke free of the stereotype that he is a cautious technocrat by picking Mr. Ryan, a man who has offered reforms that the country needs but are feared by the GOP’s consultant class and much of his own party.
Mr. Romney is signaling that he realizes he needs a mandate if he is elected, which means putting his reform ideas before the American people for a clear endorsement. He is treating the public like grown-ups, in contrast to President Obama’s focus on divisive and personal character attacks.
The Ryan choice also suggests that Mr. Romney understands that to defeat Mr. Obama he’ll have to do more than highlight the President’s economic failures. He must also show Americans that he has a tangible, specific reform agenda that will produce faster growth and rising incomes.
Mr. Ryan is well equipped to help him promote such an agenda. The seven-term Congressman grew up in the GOP’s growth wing and supply-side ranks as a protege of Jack Kemp. Far from being a typical House Republican, he was a dissenter from the Tom DeLay do-little Congress in the last decade. He began talking about his reform blueprint in the George W. Bush years when everyone said he was committing political suicide.
Democrats and media liberals also claim to be thrilled with the choice, boasting that they can now nationalize the election around the Ryan budget. But behind that bluster you can also detect some trepidation. In Mr. Ryan, they face a conservative advocate who knows the facts and philosophy of his arguments. He is well-liked and makes his case with a cheerful sincerity that can’t easily be caricatured as extreme. He carries his swing Wisconsin district easily though it often supports Democrats for President.
Democrats will nonetheless roll out their usual attack lines, and the Romney campaign will have to be more prepared for them than they were for the Bain Capital assault. There’s no excuse in particular for letting the White House claim that Mr. Ryan would “end Medicare as we know it” because that is demonstrably false.
In his remarks on Saturday in Norfolk, Mr. Ryan also hit on what is likely to be an emerging Romney theme: leadership that tells Americans the truth. “We will honor you, our fellow citizens, by giving you the right and opportunity to make the choice,” he said. “What kind of country do we want to have? What kind of people do we want to be?”
The underlying assumption is that at this moment of declining real incomes and national self-doubt, Americans won’t fall for the same old easy demagoguery. They want to hear serious ideas debated seriously. The contrast couldn’t be greater with a President who won’t run on his record and has offered not a single idea for a second term.
In choosing Mr. Ryan, Mr. Romney is betting that Americans know how much trouble their country is in, and that they will reward the candidate who pays them the compliment of offering solutions that match the magnitude of the problems.