The Spectacle Blog

Ryan and Risk Assessment

By on 8.16.11 | 12:07PM

The rub of my disagreement with conservatives who want Paul Ryan to run for president comes down to risk assesment. Those who think he should run quite plausibly believe this election will be fought over spending and entitlements, that Ryan's plans will already figure prominently in Democratic attacks, and that other possible nominees will either run away for them or prove incompetent at defending them.

Those are all valid arguments and I don't really disagree with them. But I think Ryan would be unlikely to win, that his defeat would be hard to interpret as anything but a rejection of his reform plans, that it would be hard to get a president of either party to go near entitlement reform post-Ryan, that his leadership role in the House Budget Committee is important, and that a presidential candidate who can fudge entitlement reform details and pivot to Obama's record on jobs and the economy is more electable, and that such a candidate could still advance entitlement reform effectively as president -- in conjunction with Chairman Paul Ryan -- even if they aren't quite as good at explaining it.

If I believed Ryan could win or that even a losing bid would advance his proposals, I'd be in favor of him running.

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