Earlier today, Jim Antle offered his arguments as to why House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan should not run for the GOP nomination.
With all due respect to Antle, I don't find his arguments convincing.
First, Antle argues that the Republican field is already crowded and that Ryan doesn't have a clear path to the nomination. Well, the stage for the Iowa debate last week was pretty darn full and that was before Rick Perry announced he was running. It was also before Tim Pawlenty's abrupt departure. At this point, it seems to me that no Republican has a clear path to the nomination. Not Romney. Not Perry. Not Bachmann. If Paul Ryan believes he has better ideas than they do then why shouldn't he run? Let the cream rise to the top.
Second, Antle fears that Ryan's record as a fiscal conservative will be tarnished. OK, so he voted for TARP, Medicare Part D and while we're at it the debt ceiling deal. No one can legitimately accuse him of being beholden to the Tea Party. Let Bachmann, Perry and Ron Paul howl. Ryan can counter by asking them how they would reform Medicare or how they would have written the House Budget? I like Ryan's odds.
Third, Antle does a 180. He goes from arguing that Ryan's reputation as a fiscal conservative being in tatters to arguing that it would be even worse if Ryan won the nomination. Instead of being criticized by Bachmann Perry Overdrive, he would now have to face the stinging criticism of President Obama. Oh-oh. Better hide the children. Of course, Obama is going to demagogue Ryan. This is Obama we're talking about. Of course he's going to demagogue. That's his modus operandi. It is in his nature. The question is can Ryan handle it?
Well, let's put it this way. If there is any Republican that Barack Obama does not want to see standing at the podium during a presidential debate, it is Paul Ryan. We already know Ryan can go toe to toe with the President. And Ryan didn't lie down when Obama trashed the House Budget in his presence. When it comes to Ryan, Obama is going to have to bring his A game.
Finally, Antle makes the case that if Ryan loses then we have four more years of Obama and quite possibly no Paul Ryan to chair the House Budget Committee. The problem with this argument is that assumes it's a foregone conclusion that the other Republican candidates would beat Obama. And what if Ryan is no longer House Budget Chair? Is Antle telling us there is no Republican capable of picking up where he left off?
So what happens if Ryan doesn't run and Obama is re-elected anyway? OK, he might remain as House Budget Chairman and in that capacity he would no doubt put out yet another brilliant budget that would address entitlement spending and the deficit. Maybe there will be a Republican Senate, that unlike the present Democrat Senate, that will work in concert with Ryan and actually pass a budget. Do you think for one minute that President Obama is going to sign into law any budget written by Paul Ryan?
Paul Ryan and President Obama have two diametrically opposed visions for this country and both men are capable of articulating those visions clearly. Ryan has gone as far as he can as House Budget Chairman to carry out that vision. As long as Obama is in the White House, it will be impossible for conservatives can restore this country to fiscal health. I am not saying that the other Republicans in the race are without merit. Far from it. But yet none of the declared candidates has convinced me they have what it takes to articulate a viable alternative to four more years of Obama. Nor do I think any of the declared candidates intimidates Obama and scares him to the core. Paul Ryan is the only Republican I've seen who is capable of doing both. If Ryan runs, it will be a decision made neither lightly nor in haste. Paul Ryan is ready to be President of the United States and if there was ever a time that duty calls now is surely it.
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