In the wake of Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate, conservatives and liberals seemed almost equally happy. To the right, the pick represented a bold decision to make a forthright case against President Obama’s vision for the country and to champion solutions to the problems that the president has only made worse. Romney had put his party’s best policy thinker and one of its best communicators on his ticket and was raring to make his case to voters. To the left, it seemed like a sop to conservatives that would force Romney to defend a policy vision the public would not buy. Romney had put his party’s most controversial budget cutter on his ticket and ran the risk of being tagged with Ryan’s parsimony.
They cannot both be right. But they do both think they are right, and look likely to act on that conviction. That very fact will tend to counteract the chief weakness of the Romney campaign thus far and to reinforce the chief weakness of the Obama campaign.