On the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk harbor, a coatless Mitt Romney named a tieless Paul Ryan as his vice presidential nominee.
Romney’s choice was not much of a surprise after he told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Thursday that he wanted someone with a “vision for the country, that adds something to the political discourse about the direction of the country. I mean, I happen to believe this is a defining election for America, that we’re going to be voting for what kind of America we’re going to have.”
This arguably describes some of the others mentioned as possible nominees, but it clearly fits Ryan.
He doesn’t fit some of the standard criteria for vice president. He hasn’t won a statewide election, held an executive position or become well-known nationally or even in much of Wisconsin.
But more than anyone else, more even (as impolite as it is to say) than the putative presidential nominee, Ryan has set the course for the Republican Party for the past three years, both on policy and in politics. From his post as chairman of the House Budget Committee, he has made himself not just a plausible national nominee but a formidable one by advancing and arguing for major changes in entitlement policy.
He has argued consistently that entitlement programs — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid — are on an unsustainable trajectory. Left alone, they threaten to crowd out necessary government spending and throttle the private sector.