I think the choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate is a good one for the country. It makes the race "about" something, beyond just being a negative referendum on how the economy is going under Obama. And the Republican vision and program, if Romney and Ryan should win, immediately becomes something more specific than "the opposite of Obama's." This is how we think elections are supposed to work, and Romney's decision will make plan-vs.-plan, vision-vs.-vision comparisons more likely -- as opposed strictly to gaffe-vs.-gaffe. For those reasons, good choice, congratulations to Romney and Ryan, and let the real campaign begin.
One request: I hope that when reporters are writing or talking about Paul Ryan's budget plans and his overall approach, they will rig up some electro-shock device to zap themselves each time they say that Ryan and his thoughts are unusually "serious" or "brave." Clear-edged they are, and useful in defining the issues in the campaign. But they have no edge in "seriousness" over, say, proposals from Ryan's VP counterpart Joe Biden.
Last year, as the new GOP majority was preparing to accept Ryan's plan as the official House version of the budget, "brave" and "serious" surrounded press mention of Ryan's name so often that these became de facto parts of his identification. "Well, George, some people may not like this plan, but Paul Ryan is making a brave and serious attempt to deal with America's budget problems." As Jonathan Chait argued in a long and very-much-worth-reading New York magazine article this spring, the "brave and serious" cliche largely reflected a successful positioning campaign, which many people who view themselves as "serious" swallowed credulously.