The PRyan pick isn't likely to change the outcome of the election, but it tells us something about the mindset of Willard Inc.
While debate continues to rage as to whether PRyan is an utterly lousy (but utterly appropriate) veep pick because he's such a useless shell of a human being or because he's such a virulent ignoramus, delusionary, and extremist crackpot, there's general agreement that it won't make a lick of difference in the outcome.
"An aide to the former Massachusetts governor acknowledged that after weeks of vetting, meetings, and even joint public appearances with the three men [Tim Pawlenty, Rob Portman, and Paul Ryan], 'They have totally blended together for him. . . . We were told to find a white male who was less interesting than Mitt. And we thought we hit the jackpot with these three. Then this telling-them-apart-from-each-other problem cropped up. I can tell you, it's a big mess."
-- from the Borowitz Report yesterday
"The man of the hour used his brief remarks to lay out his vision of America, saying that billions of dollars could be saved by eliminating food, clothing, and shelter."
-- from the Borowitz Report today, on a just-discovered
"less interesting person than Mitt Romney"
"less interesting person than Mitt Romney"
Why should I be the only person in My Two Cents' Worth Land who doesn't have something to say about the selection of the Unspeakable Paul Ryan to be a heartbeat away from the planned presidency of the Incorporated Willard. (Question: Will PRyan have to incorporate too? Or does he come pre-incorporated?)
It's really, really hard to persuade people that no, the veep choice doesn't really affect the outcome of a presidential contest. I know because it took me a long, long time to understand it.
I mean, Dan Quayle?
But the veep choice can certainly affect the tone of the contest, which clearly happened in 2008 when Young Johnny McCranky unleashed Princess Sarah Palin on an unsuspecting world -- a world that, for all its ills, may not have quite deserved that. I don't think I have to rehash the transformation in tone which Princess Sarah wrought on the campaign. But in the end, I really don't see that it affected the outcome in any meaningful way.
The people who were inspired by the princess's screeching, hate-strewn imbecilities -- and, let's say it, by the bountiful princessly bosom -- would by and large have voted for McCranky anyway, and the people who were shocked-and-awed by the breadth and depth of her wall-to-wall ignorance and delusion, toxically reality-defying ideological savavery, and screeching ineptitude would by and large have taken a flier on Obama anyway. Perhaps the choice made both camps feel better, or at least more decisive, about their own choice, but I don't see that any significant number of minds were altered.
I think this is even more the case with the anointment of the Unspeakable PRyan. (I will remain persuaded that "Unspeakable" is PRyan's actual legal given name, and will remains so persuaded until he produces a birth certificate, and probably even after, since, as we know, anyone can fake a birth certificate.) And my first thought was of a Thursday blogpost by The New Yorker's John Cassidy, "From Dan Quayle to Sarah Palin to Mini-Mitt: What the Veep Choice Will Reveal," in which he wrote:
If he does what most of the pundits expect and picks Rob Portman, the junior Senator from Ohio, or Tim Pawlenty, the former Governor of Minnesota, it indicates that the Mittster, despite all the polls, remains fairly confident of victory. Both Portman and Pawlenty are mini-Mitts: moderate, non-ideological technocrats who hardly set the pulses racing. . . .
If Romney picks either of them it will suggest he thinks his campaign is in trouble and he needs to shake things up. Either Ryan or Rubio would energize the G.O.P.’s conservative base. . . .
Then there is a quartet of governorswho could possibly be chosen [NJ's Christie, SC's Hale, LA's Jindal, VA's McDonnell] plus any number of others, including, I suppose, General David Petraeus, whose name Matt Drudge has been bandying around. Picking any of these lot would represent a Hail Mary pass.
If I were making the choice, since I think the Romney campaign is in serious bother, I would take a punt on Rubio or Christie, hoping that it would alter the dynamics. . . . But my hopes would be tempered by the memory of Quayle, Palin, and all the other Veep candidates who garnered acres of newsprint and didn’t count for much on Election Day. In fact, here’s a challenge: Can anybody think of a running mate who made a substantial difference? [JC himself proposes Lyndon Johnson, who by nook or by crook enabled John Kennedy to carry Texas and win the 1960 election.]
None of this struck me as remarkable on Thursday, but somehow today, with the choice announced, it seems to me totally to the point. The Ryan pick tells us that Willard "thinks his campaign is in trouble and he needs to shake things up" and he thinks the way to shake things up is to "energize the G.O.P.’s conservative base." This is, in other words, McCranky Redux.
Cassidy too harks back, in a post today ("Why Romney Picked Ryan: Let’s Change the Subject from Me"), harks back to his earlier post:
A couple of days ago, I remarked that if Romney selected Ryan or Marco Rubio it would show that he was in trouble, and needed to shake up the campaign. That still seems right. In placing a lightning rod like Ryan on the ticket, Romney appears to have decided that the best form of defense is attack. For months, he and his campaign have been trying to turn the election exclusively into a referendum on Obama’s record. That strategy has now been abandoned. Ryan’s mere presence ensures that the election will be framed in the way that Team Obama has wanted all along: as a choice between the President’s moderate progressivism and the anti-government radicalism of today’s G.O.P.
Note that Cassidy's New Yorker colleague Jane Mayer also blogged today on the PRyan pick: "Ayn Rand Joins the Ticket."
AS USUAL, THOUGH, IT'S PROBABLY ANDY BOROWITZ
WHO'S GOT THE MOST INCISIVE, ILLUMINATING TAKE
U.S.S. WISCONSIN (The Borowitz Report) -- An exhaustive manhunt that took months and spanned the country came to a dramatic end today as a less interesting person than Mitt Romney turned up in Wisconsin.
On the deck of the U.S.S. Wisconsin, officials from the Guinness Book of World Records were on hand to certify the result of the search.
"This man is in fact the least interesting person in America," one Guinness official said, adding that Mr. Romney himself had held that title since 1947.
Mr. Romney and the man made a joint appearance, after which the audience was advised not to operate heavy machinery.
The man of the hour used his brief remarks to lay out his vision of America, saying that billions of dollars could be saved by eliminating food, clothing, and shelter.
For his part, Mr. Romney sounded a theme for the fall campaign: "It's time to transform America, and the two of us are both Transformers."
And here, for the record, was Andy's take yesterday, in the Borowitz Report post "Romney Veepstakes Deadlocked":
The race to become the Republican vice-presidential candidate seemed hopelessly deadlocked today as Mitt Romney announced he would choose between former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, and Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan "as soon as I can tell them apart."
An aide to the former Massachusetts governor acknowledged that after weeks of vetting, meetings, and even joint public appearances with the three men, "they have totally blended together for him."
Mr. Romney's inability to distinguish Pawlenty from Portman, Portman from Ryan, and Ryan from Pawlenty may have its origins, the aide said, in the prerequisites that the vice-presidential search committee was originally given.
"We were told to find a white male who was less interesting than Mitt," he said. "And we thought we hit the jackpot with these three. Then this telling-them-apart-from-each-other problem cropped up. I can tell you, it's a big mess."
Face-to-face meetings between Mr. Romney and the three men on his shortlist have done nothing to ameliorate the problem, the aide said, "because when each of these guys talks to him he starts losing consciousness."
The campaign has even resorted to creating flashcards with the likenesses of Messrs. Pawlenty, Ryan, and Portman on one side and their names on the back, but to no avail.
CONFIDENTIAL TO NY-ER WRITERS WHO KNOW BETTER
BUT REFER TO RyanL's PRyan PUFF PIECE AS "TERRIFIC"
For mercy's sake, cut it out! I'm not going to mention any names (this time), but you know who you are. Let's just call you, oh, I don't know, maybe "John" and "Jane."
By all means feel free to refer back to factual disclosures in the piece. Heck, even I was intrigued by some of the biographical detail. And maybe you thought you were being cleverly limiting, hypothetical "Jane," by hypothetically including the word "biographical" in your hypothetical reference to RyanL's "terrific biographical Profile of Ryan." But biography accounted for only a small portion of the piece, and the rest of it was a pile of truly horrible Inside the Beltway manure, and I have to believe that you of all people know this, "Jane" (which again isn't necessarily the name of any actual person; it could be a totally made-up name).
PS: WE REALLY HAVE TO ADD THE BOROWITZ REPORT'S
"UNUSUALLY CANDID INTERVIEW WITH MITT ROMNEY"
As long as we're tipping hats to the Borowitz Report for its miles-ahead coverage of the 2012 GOP presidential candidate, an proper Willard Watcher would have to go back to Thursday's "Unusually Candid Interview with Mitt Romney," which began:
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge of your campaign going forward?And goes on to ask such questions as: "How are you working to change the perception that you’re sane?"
A: Well, I suppose the biggest challenge would be the same one I’ve faced all my life: that no one likes me. But as I’ve found in the past, money usually takes care of that.
Q: What do you need to do to persuade the right wing of your party that you’re one of them?
A: Well, first and foremost, I have to do a better job of convincing them that I believe in the crazy things they do. The problem is, the media keeps emphasizing aspects of my resume that make me sound sane . . . .