I suppose Jim Antle and I (along with Quin Hillyer) will have to agree to disagree about Paul Ryan’s presidential prospects. Fair enough.
Jim makes the case that Ryan best serves our country by remaining as House Budget Chairman. Ryan is a great House Budget Chairman. We don’t disagree. But as I argued yesterday, if Ryan stays as House Budget Chairman and Obama wins re-election what difference is it going to make? Even if the Senate goes GOP, Ryan will write budgets and Obama will veto them. Meanwhile, to quote Tennessee Ernie Ford, we “get another day older and deeper in debt.” Only the company store to whom we owe our soul will be located in Beijing.
The presence of Ryan in the GOP race might be disquieting to Jim. Yes, the Obama campaign will trot out everything up to and including the kitchen sink on Ryan. But they would do just the same to Romney, Perry or Bachmann and most of the media is more than happy to play along. They would much prefer to do that than scrutinize the Obama presidency. Yet I think Ryan is equipped to deal with Obama in a way those aforementioned Republicans aren’t. If anyone can bring the discussion back to Obama’s ineffective and ineffectual presidency, it is Ryan.
As for Jim’s assertion that the electorate might not be ready for a discussion about entitlements, well, the electorate has a way of letting presidential candidates know what they want to talk about. But let’s suppose Jim is right. Then perhaps we aren’t so serious about government spending and the reducing role of the federal government in our lives. Perhaps we are content to say, “Cut my neighbor’s benefits but leave mine alone.” In which case, we deserve the President we elect.
Yet the risk of the electorate not being ready for Ryan’s message should not preclude him from throwing his hat into the ring if he is so inclined to toss it. If we are afraid that the electorate might not be ready for Ryan then by that logic, Barry Goldwater should have stepped aside for Nelson Rockefeller in 1964. Indeed, Ronald Reagan have never challenged Gerald Ford in 1976 never mind telling a not so moderate moderator in Nashua, New Hampshire in February 1980, “I am paying for this microphone.” We let Reagan be Reagan. So let Ryan be Ryan.
Finally, to quote Rabbi Hillel, “And if not now, when?”