The Internet Gives Paul Ryan the Sarah Palin Treatment

This article is from the archive of our partner .

In August of 2008, John McCain announced that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin would be his vice presidential running mate on the Republican ticket for the election held that November. In August of 2012—just two days ago—Mitt Romney announced that Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan would be his vice presidential running mate on the Republican ticket for the election to be held this November. Some (like John McCain) may deny similarities between the two veep picks, but the Internet feels differently. Here are a few demonstrated learnings and consistencies (and predictions of further consistencies) gleaned from the online reactions thus far.

The "Republican Hottie V.P." Is a Thing Now. A look at the Twitter response to Paul Ryan's nomination reminds us that we are strangely obsessed with the looks of Republican V.P. nominees, or at least, we have been since 2008, with Sarah Palin. It's likely that almost no one was freaking out about whether Dick Cheney could "get it" in 2004—though we were saying that back then about John Edwards. Meanwhile, the sexy side of Joe Biden remains a relatively untraversed topical area. Does the supposedly "sexy" shift from Democrat to Republican mean anything? Can a sexy V.P. ever make it onto a winning ticket? A historical reckoning does not signify great promise, but you never know. Relevant: Good hair has a lot to do with sexy, apparently.

Recommended Reading

Also a Thing: Satirical Twitter Accounts. The hilarious political faux-Twitter of the moment is @PaulRyanGosling, combining things Ryan Gosling ("Hey girl") with things Paul Ryan ("I'm going to be releasing two, which is what he's releasing") to make things like, "I'm only releasing two years of my tax returns. If you want more, you'll have to find my tickle spot." There's a plethora of fake Palin accounts, from @FakeSarahPalin to @PalinsVagina to @SarrahPalinU5A ... and so on. Key learning here: If they are nominated, or if signs point to that occurrence, the Twitter accounts will come.

The Politics, of Course the Politics. We'll save deeper political discourse for another post (this is about the Internet reaction, after all), but this sums up one side of the thinking fairly succinctly:

Discussions of "Women's Issues." From Palin's nomination there followed a lot of talk about what that meant for women. Palin herself is a woman, obviously, but what about her politics? How she felt about a range of women's issues turned out to be not so progressive at all. Similarly, there's been a wave of response regarding Paul Ryan's stance on issues that impact women (and really, "women's issues" are issues of people in general, couching it that way is a wee bit depressing). Of course, much of the lead-up to this election has referred to a "War on Women," and we're clearly going to keep talking about these issues as such, whether it's because it makes for some snappy discourse or writing or because it's truly important (the latter, we think and hope). And then there's the electoral issue of women, particularly single women, as key voters in this election...

Fun with Photos. Let the extensive Photoshopping of Paul Ryan commence. We got every variety of Sarah Palin possible, really, from "sexy schoolteacher Sarah" to Sarah in a bikini, with a gun to, well, everything else, from disturbing to silly to hypersexualized and even porny. Ryan fans and haters, it's on. There are also real photos to be distributed and admired or analyzed, of course, including this one of Paul Ryan and a deer (Palin liked hunting a lot, too, or at least said she did). Or the one of Ryan as prom king. Similarly, Palin has embodied a certain "prom" or "homecoming" queen aesthetic to more than a few, and you betcha her high school prom date ended up becoming her husband.

A Look at the Fam. It's a given there will be a lot of interest in any potential vice president's family, but with the reaction to Palin and Co. as a particular precedent, it's a good bet we'll be seeing a whole lot more of Janna Little Ryan and the kids, Liza, Charlie, and Sam, in the lead-up to November.

Identification of Catchphrases. "You betcha"; "Joe Six Pack"; "Hockey Mom"; "Maverick"; and "I can see Russia from my house" were just a few of the Palin expressions that took off and found a life of their own during the last electoral season. So far with Ryan, the media is already grabbing onto "If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” and his thoughts about the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Surely there will be more, if we only listen. He might just co-opt "bold" as his own. 

Inset via AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.