The vice presidential debate gives Paul Ryan a unique opportunity to explain Mitt Romney’s economic programs and ideas in front of a massive national audience. We will see Paul Ryan at his best. And that is very, very good.
He is not just a vice presidential candidate. He is the author and intellectual founder of the modern Republican agenda. There can be no more profound and articulate a spokesman to defend and elaborate the Romney agenda to America.
It is rare that the ideological and substantive creator of a public policy agenda gets to weigh in during a national public debate. Usually, intellects of his scope and force are relegated to ghost writing and speech preparation. But now the originator of these ideas is the candidate himself. His ideas have shaped the entire Republican agenda and his programs for reform have energized its ranks. Now the author, himself, will be called upon to define and defend his programs and his ideas.
For his part, Joe Biden is a party hack called upon to defend an agenda which he did not design and of which he likely only partially approves. Beyond the challenges he has in public speaking, Biden is not in Ryan’s league when it comes to understanding issues and grasping the problems America faces. The difference between a genius and a hack will be evident in Thursday’s debate.
Commentators and pundits have been fast to ask why Obama did so poorly in the first debate. But they aren’t asking the real question: What is the impact of Romney being so good?
The reason Romney did so well is that his positions are in line with those of the American people. By making the election about big things like the size of government, the level of spending and the need for government regulation, Romney — and now Ryan — can showcase differences between the tickets that work decisively to the advantage of the Republican ticket. And there is nobody better qualified or equipped to define and discuss these differences than Paul Ryan.
By focusing on policy — as he always does — Ryan can craft a national consensus that he and Romney are right and that Obama and Biden are wrong. Without focusing on personalities, likeability, or charisma, Ryan can make Americans understand the alternatives and the stakes in this election. The good he can do to the ticket is enormous. He can cement Romney’s victory in the first debate and make permanent the bond Romney established with the American people.
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