Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's Deja Vu All Over Again


Romney makes it three. That is, this is the third time in recent history that the GOP managed to nominate a candidate for president that did not inspire the party activists. Dole. McCain. Romney. And each time the GOP tried to remedy the situation via the vice presidential pick.

The initial reaction to the vice presidential selection is also always the same: brilliant choice. Yes, even Palin was viewed as a great choice. She was one of the most popular governors in the country with approval rating in the 80%-90%. She had a reputation as reformer that took on the good old boys corrupt network.

Palin gave a well received speech at the GOP convention and shortly afterwards the McCain-Palin ticket took the lead in the Real Clear Politics average and held it until it became clear that Palin was completely unprepared to handle the national spotlight.

Jack Kemp also seemed a great pick. He certainly brought energy and excitement to the ticket. Lots of talk of the GOP finally being able to make inroads into the black vote because of Kemp's work with enterprise zones and other efforts to improve the economic condition of inner cities.

Unfortunately, Kemp had to reverse his stances on issues like affirmative action in order to align with Dole's positions. The net result was taking away from Kemp the very qualities that made him a more appealing Republican to minority voters. The final nail on the Kemp vice presidential candidacy was his disastrous debate with Al Gore where he got all tangled up talking about redlining.

And now we have Paul Ryan. When I first heard about the Ryan pick I thought this is a Palin redo except Ryan can go on Meet the Press. Many took it to mean that I thought Ryan would eventually come across as unprepared or ignorant. But that is not what I meant. Ryan is used to dealing with the national media unlike Palin. That is why I said he can go on Meet the Press.

What I meant is that like McCain, Romney needed a game changer. If the internal polls looked great. If the Bain attacks weren't working, Romney would have gone with a Porter or Pawlenty. He certainly would not have put on the ticket Ryan with his controversial Medicare plan. Romney would not have risked losing over trying to have a substantive election. Let's not forget that he won the primary not through substance. But through an avalanche of negative ads against his opponents.

And over time I also think that Ryan will hurt the ticket more than help it. Just like Palin's claims about the Bridge to Nowhere, gas pipeline were not as impressive upon closer inspection, the same will be true regarding Ryan's posture as a fiscal hawk. Ryan voted for Medicare Part D, TARP, auto bailout, stimulus bills under Bush. Not exactly a record that screams fiscal responsibility.

Tomorrow the GOP convention gets underway. During the next few days Romney and Ryan will get a chance to introduce themselves to the American voters. Lay out their plans and make their case. Who knows? May be the third time is the charm.