When the New York Times reported that Governor Romney was facing pressure from the “Right” to name Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his running mate, the flagship newspaper of the U.S. establishment meant the ersatz Right of neoconservatives, Rupert Murdoch, and Rockefeller Republicans. The “conservatives” identified as pushing for Ryan included Bill Kristol’s The Weekly Standard, Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, and Newt Gingrich.
Romney’s selection of Ryan adds no ideological balance to the ticket. Like Romney, Ryan is an establishment figure. He was a protégé of Jack Kemp in the 1990s. (By this time, Kemp’s early libertarian and populist leanings had been eclipsed by his affinity for statists and plutocrats.)
During the Bush Jr. years, Ryan was a consistent supporter of big government and crony capitalism, voting for No Child Left Behind, the Iraq War, Medicare Part D, raising the national debt ceiling, and the Wall Street bailout. Reinforcing Romney’s reputation as an out-of-touch elitist, Congressman Ryan is most famous as a supposed “budget cutter” who urges austerity for the poor and continuation of the privileged status quo for the wealthy and well-connected.
In contrast to the enthusiasm displayed by NYT-style “conservatives,” conservative elder statesman Richard Viguerie describes Ryan as “a nice guy” but “not Tea Party.” Viguerie adds, “He’s part of the Washington crowd. . . . His proposal doesn’t balance the budget for 28 years.”
It is unfortunate that Governor Romney has not moved beyond his pragmatic, establishment base in choosing a running mate. Someone like Senator Rand Paul or Senator Jim DeMint would have been a more sensible and popular choice.