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”