Michael Steele: The Race is Now a Choice

Mitt Romney’s vice presidential selection was on its face a very good one—solid, strong and perhaps riskier than it needed to be. Less a “bold choice” (sorry Bill Kristol) and certainly not a “maverick pick” the choice of Paul Ryan was, at least for Mitt Romney, appropriate. For months, Romney and his campaign were beset by pundits, Establishment types and wannabe prognosticators divining who he would or should pick. From safe to out-of-the-box, names were all over the place; an no name wasn’t good enough to suggest (Kim Kardashian. Really?). But in the end Mitt knew what he wanted—he wanted it all! And in Paul Ryan he gets a little Rob Portman and Bobby Jindal (policy wonk), Tim Pawlenty (GOP grassroots, Sam’s Club Republicanism) and even Marco Rubio (Tea Party appeal).

Just as significant is that Romney, by choosing Ryan, has clearly decided to reset the narrative in his race with President Obama. And here’s where the wheels can come off pretty quick. For the past 4 months or so, the Romney campaign has argued, pushed and even distorted the facts to make the point that this election is a referendum on the Obama years. Sure Obama was dealt a bad set of cards, the argument goes, but leadership—especially presidential leadership is about what you do with the cards you are dealt. For Romney, the president just didn’t know how to play his hand. But in selecting Paul Ryan, Mitt has given the president a new set of cards.

Starting now, this race is no longer a referendum on Obama but rather a choice between Obama (“Status Quo Liberalism”) and Romney (“Reform Conservatism”). It appears the Romney-Ryan campaign is ready to make this argument and the Obama-Biden campaign can’t wait for it. In addition to jobs and the economy Romney now wants a broader debate about big ideas and even bigger policies, hence the Ryan selection, and is counting on Paul Ryan’s smarts and bookish charms to dissect Obama and Biden. But Paul Ryan and his budget have also given the president an opportunity to make the race not just about Bain Capital and Romney’s tax returns (you really didn’t expect them to give those up, did you?) but also about a return to “trickle-down economics” and “ending [fill in the blank] as we know it,” claims Republicans at least up to now have not been able to respond to effectively.

And in an ironic political twist, both campaigns are happy with this pick (at least for the moment). Republicans (especially conservatives) are excited to know a budget hawk would be a heartbeat away from the oval office; and Democrats are smiling like Cheshire cats because a budget hawk is a heartbeat away from Mitt Romney.

But all of this excitement about Paul Ryan being picked reminds me of the Jeff Goldblum quote from the Lost World: Jurassic Park in responding to how excited everyone was to be at Jurassic Park: “That’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and screaming.”

Jeff Smith: Romney Must Tweak Ryan Plan

Thanks for the very insightful analysis, Tom.

It’s hard to add much except to say this: You will hear the phrase “No one over 55 will be impacted” more than you heard Al Gore say “lockbox.” And of course from the other side you will hear the incessant “end of Medicare as you know it” refrain. The victor of that argument will likely win the election.

Amid annual trillion dollar deficits and the nation’s debt rating downgrade, I suspect that Americans are somewhat more willing than before to hear a serious conversation about our nation’s troubled finances.
But in order to prevail in that argument, Romney must tweak the Ryan plan to reduce the benefits for the wealthy and shift money towards deficit reduction. Only then would he be able to capture the moral high road.
However, doing so would alienate the very conservative pundit class that the Ryan pick has appeased, which is why I find it quite unlikely.

Tom Allen: Ryan Pick Commentary on Dysfunctional Politics

I served with Paul Ryan for 10 of my 12 years in Congress, and 4 years together on the House Budget Committee.

Paul is bright, pleasant, hard-working—a real gentleman.

But he is also an ideologue, inspired by Ayn Rand, fiercely opposed to federal spending and a passionate believer in the power of tax cuts to stimulate economic growth in all circumstances.

The budget proposals he has presented the last three years reduce taxes for the wealthy, and services (and tax breaks) for the middle class.

Ryan is a small government conservative; not a deficit hawk.

Ryan is also a high risk choice for Romney; his campaign must be gambling that Ryan’s ideas will not be well enough understood to hurt Romney’s chances.  Since ideas get trivialized and trampled by media coverage anyway, they may be right.

It is a sad commentary on our dysfunctional politics that the Republican nominee felt he had to choose someone on the right wing of the party rather than reach out to the middle of the electorate.

The RP: Top 5…6 Reasons I Love the Paul Ryan Pick

1. Maybe, just maybe, the presidential debate will turn substantive:  The past few weeks have seen some of the most disgusting and despicable campaign charges in recent memory — from the Obama Super PAC implying that Romney killed  a man’s wife to Romney’s completely mendacious claim that Obama is eliminating the work requirement from Bill Clinton’s welfare reform.  The choice of Paul Ryan places his economic policy vision on the front stage, and allows the country to witness a thorough, meaningful debate on whether FDR’s Welfare State should survive this Age of Austerity.  It will also put in clear focus one of the critical themes of modern America — growing income inequality — and I hope will force the Obama campaign to develop concrete plans to deal with it.

2. Mitt Romney’s campaign could be the next victim of the “Aspen Curse”:   As an Obama supporter, it is comforting to know that the “Aspen Curse” — which victimized me and so many of my friends — could turn on Mitt Romney.  As I detailed in this piece a few months ago, I was the member of the Inaugural Class of the Aspen Institute’s Rodel Fellows program, that brought together young political leaders from across the country for bipartisan dialogue.  Unfortunately, every one of us that sought major statewide office over the next several years lost — from contributing RP Michael Steele to New Jersey’s Tom Kean to Missouri’s Robin Carnahan to most recently Nebraska’s Jon Bruning.  Paul Ryan, and seven other young incumbent Congressman, were originally named to our class; but due to their busy schedules and strict Congressional ethics rules, Aspen dropped Congressmen from the program.  Still, the Aspen Curse victimized sorta-Rodel-Fellows Florida’s Kendrick Meek when he ran for the U.S. Senate and contributing RP Artur Davis when he ran for Alabama’s Governor.  So maybe too Paul Ryan will meet the same fate.

3. It demonstrates that the Romney campaign is in trouble.  As nearly every insta-analyst of the pick has agreed, Paul Ryan was the riskiest pick among the VP finalists, which included  former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and my spring prediction, Ohio Senator Rob Portman.  Romney and his campaign have been playing it safe since the beginning of the primary season, avoiding controversy whenever possible.  The Ryan pick indicates that they felt they needed to shake up the dynamic that has Obama up 7-9 points in national polls, despite their looming cash advantage.

4.  It is great news for Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.  The tiny, extraordinary school, which hosted the 2000 Vice-Presidential debate, will get its second chance to be in the world’s spotlight this fall.  Having a debate between two bright, spirited men, with deeply contrasting visions of the country’s economic future, will lift the debate in significance and historical weight.  It will be another great moment for small town Kentucky.

5.  It is great news for my daughter, Emily.  Of course, I personally view this as #1.  As Emily heads next week to freshman orientation at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, her outstanding choice of higher education will rise in national attention as the alma mater of the GOP Vice Presidential nominee.  Moreover, I’m thrilled that the presidential campaign will become a central part of campus dialogue, making Emily’s first experience in the voting booth — casting her ballot for Barack Obama — all the more special.

6. (UPDATED) Of the four men on the two major presidential tickets, the only Protestant is the..uh..”Muslim”

The RPs Debate Roger Clemens: Rod Jetton in the 5 Hole

[Click here for a link to the entire RP Debate on Roger Clemens]

Yes, Roger Clemens should be admitted and given an extra award for being dragged through the dirt!
It seems the government and our Congressional leaders should have more dangerous criminals to track down and go after.
I fear this all started because a few Congressional leaders wanted some headlines and signed baseballs from the superstars.  I’m sure some serious steroid use was going on, and we know it is unhealthy for the players and should not be an example for the young kids, but surely we can let baseball police their own sport.
To me it was all a big waste of money and probably ruined many lives.

The RPs Debate Roger Clemens: Artur Davis Cleans Up

[Click here for a link to the entire RP Debate on Roger Clemens]

I appreciate that Roger Clemens is no sympathetic character. Even before his brain and emotions might have been addled by steroids, he could be graceless to an extreme: the few black fans left in baseball winced after he stupidly said he wished he could crack Hank Aaron’s head open when Aaron had the temerity to suggest a pitcher shouldn’t win a season MVP award. It was a dumb, brutal joke that echoed the savage letters Aaron received in the throes of his home run record chase. There was also no grace in the Roger Clemens who could erupt at umpires or batters, and who tended to do it most when his skills weren’t working. There are a host of fans who see nothing but a perennial evader of responsibility in Clemens, and I sympathize.

But the Hall of Fame is a baseball venue and the only relevance of his misdeeds is whether they influenced the stats that make the player’s candidacy (I would say the same for Pete Rose, whose tawdriness never included betting to influence his own games).

Accepting the standard that it’s best to freeze Clemens’ candidacy as of 1998–pre Brian McNamee–I lean toward admission for Roger Clemens, but don’t see the baseball case as nearly as one-sided as some comments on the thread suggest. Clemens’ Red Sox career approximated 16 wins a years for twelve years–exceptional and consistent, but there were outlier years like the masterpiece in 86 balanced against a run of seasons in the early nineties when Clemens seemed past his prime, and an undeniable pattern of erosion. Then there is the mediocrity of his post-season work for the Red Sox, when the rap was that Clemens seemed to fatigue by October (a precursor of why he might have turned to enhancers). The two Toronto Cy Young years (and 41 additional wins) are clouded, perhaps unfairly, by the proximity to his alleged introduction to steroids, and the murkiness around when the cheating might have started.

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The RPs Debate Roger Clemens: Artur Davis Cleans Up

The RPs Debate Roger Clemens: Greg Harris Bats Third

[Click here for a link to the entire RP Debate on Roger Clemens]

I do not think ball players should be banned from the Hall of Fame for moral reasons not having to do with performance.  

As a Reds fan, which everyone knows is the greatest sports franchise on the history of the planet, it bother me that “hit king” Pete Rose is still barred from the Hall for activities having nothing to do with his performance on the field as a player.  (Ok, not totally relevant to this debate, but I just had to say that.)

As for players who took performance enhancing drugs, they should not be given a place in the Hall.  
Their stats were jacked because they were juiced.  But Clemens was found innocent, and it’s not for the Hall to try and convict him.  So let him in.

The RPs Debate Roger Clemens: The RP in the Second Hole

[Click here for a link to the entire RP Debate on Roger Clemens]

Should Roger Clemens be admitted to the Hall of Fame?

That’s a clown question, bro.

Clemens was one of the 5 best pitchers of all time, AND he’s been vindicated through an extensive and painful court process.  Whether or not the sportswriters agree with the jury’s verdict last week, that’s how our democracy works.

The tougher call– moral and practical — concerns whether others who have admitted, or have been suspected of, steroid use should be prohibited from entering the Hall of Fame.

I don’t believe that steroid use — and obviously then, suspicion thereof — PRIOR TO Major League Baseball’s crackdown on performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) should be a barrier to entry. This is a critical distinction.  Players such as Manny Ramirez are an easy case — he continued to use PEDs long after Baseball announced stiffer penalties — despite his contribution to the Red Sox resurrection in 2004, he’s done.  (Ryan Braun is a much tougher call, and not just because he’s my favorite Jewish player.  I agreed with the decision to reverse his suspension based on technicality — again, that is how our system of due process works — but I’m hopeful that in the years to come, the issue will be clairified.)

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The RPs Debate Roger Clemens: The RP in the Second Hole

The RPs Debate Roger Clemens: Steve Schulman Leads Off

As an irregular feature, Mondays at The Recovering Politician are sometimes reserved for great debates among the contributing RPs and Friends of RP.  Click here for a link to the prior debates.
Today, the following question is posed:  Should superstar pitcher Roger Clemens, recently acquitted of lying about using performance enhancing steroids, be admitted to Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame?
Steven Schulman, this site’s resident baseball expert — and the second best owner in his fantasy baseball league — leads off:
First, a few disclaimers:  Roger Clemens was for many years my favorite baseball player.  Until he signed with the Yankees.  Then he was dead to me.
Ok, that’s behind us.  The question is whether the acquittal of Clemens on the charges of lying to Congress and obstruction of justice make him more or less likely to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and, in any case, whether he should be elected notwithstanding the charges (both legal and moral) against him.
The realist point of view is that the writers who are empowered to elect players to the Hall of Fame are highly unlikely to be persuaded by the verdict in a criminal proceeding.  The prosecution’s burden in a criminal court is to prove the facts “beyond a reasonable doubt.”   For Hall of Fame voters, the burden appears to be “well, I personally think so, for whatever reason.” For their own reasons – either moral objections or simple embarrassment that they themselves failed to uncover (or to reveal their own knowledge of) steroid use – writers are objecting to anyone from the 1990s into this century who even has a hint of steroid use.
Jeff Bagwell – who ranks among the best first basement ever (in the major leagues, not just my Rotisserie baseball team) – has failed in two tries to be elected to the Hall of Fame, simply because his body type and the era in which he played raise suspicions of steroid use.  Accordingly, Clemens’s acquittal will hardly move the needle for the knights of the keyboard who guard the gates to Cooperstown. 

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The RPs Debate Roger Clemens: Steve Schulman Leads Off

The RPs Debate Romney Bullying: The RP Nation Weighs In

Opines Rabbi Jonathan Miller, Birmingham, AL:

I agree with my namesake, Jonathan, and spoke from that way from my pulpit in Alabama. In my experience, people change, and some people change radically and become their better selves. This was a shameful incident. But we do not elect 17 year olds to the office of President, thank God.

Further, I felt badly that Romney had to play dumb, that he couldn’t fess up or tell the world who he changed because of the gotcha political environment. The muted reaction to this event from the candidate and his minions was a result of trying to finesse the news cycles.

Says Linda Curry, Harrods Creek, KY:

I think he should definitely be held accountable. Romney was eighteen (18) years old. Legally he was an adult. Yes, it matters what he did fifty (50) years ago. He wants us to elect him President of the United States. From what I am hearing of his comments he will certainly “bully” the poor and helpless in favor of the ultra rich. He even tried to laugh the matter off as not remembering it. If he were honest with the American people he would not try to act like it didn’t happen.

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The RPs Debate Romney Bullying: The RP Nation Weighs In

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