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It looks like Democrats and Republicans have something they agree on.

ruan budget

Both sides are happy with Mitt Romney’s pick for VP. Okay, at least in public, the Republicans say they are glad.

Ryan’s a twofer for the tea party-tilting white folks who make up a big part of the GOP base.

First, Ryan is a Social Darwinist of the if-you're-poor-it's-your-own-fault persuasion and a disciple of the greed-is-good gospel of Ayn Rand. He hates labor unions, to boot.

Second, Ryan is a culture warrior who girds his loins against abortion, even in the case of rape or incest.

"What isn't so well known about Ryan's record, though, is that one piece of legislation he supported is so extreme that it would have turned Romney's children into criminals," Stephanie Mencimer writes on Mother Jones online.

She means the Sanctity of Human Life Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Ryan. The measure “would have enshrined the notion that life begins at fertilization in federal law, thus criminalizing in vitro fertilization—the process of creating an embryo outside of a woman's womb."

Mencimer adds: "In May, Romney's son Tagg became father of twin boys thanks to help from IVF and a surrogate mother. Tagg's son Jonathan was also produced this way. Two of Tagg's brothers reportedly have struggled with infertility issues and resorted to IVF as well."

Anyway, the tea partiers, heretofore mild about Mitt, are wild about Ryan.

So are the Democrats, reminding everybody that Ryan “wants to end Medicare as we know it."

Oh, yeah, Romney says, the guy in the White House is the real Medicare cutter. But writing on Talking Points Memo online, Sahil Kapur says the charges and countercharges between the two campaigns mask "a critical difference between visions: President Obama’s plan is to make the program solvent by reducing payments to health care providers, while Rep. Paul Ryan achieves his savings by transforming Medicare into a voucher-like system....The Congressional Budget Office projects that Ryan’s plan would raise seniors’ out-of-pocket expenses by $6,500 per year."

Anyway, firing up your base is the first step toward getting elected president–or dog catcher, for that matter. But the GOP base has been fired up since Obama got elected. Their disdain for the “Kenyan-born-Islamo-Socialist-FEMA-concentration-camp-commandant-who-hates-white-people” is more than enough juice to get them to the polls.

Step two in winning an election is broadening your base. At least it used to be.

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It doesn’t matter if you’re a liberal or a conservative. When you have your party’s nomination, you tack to the center and woo those flaming moderates.

“Moderate” is a dirty word in today’s “compromise-is-surrender” GOP.

I guess Romney, the onetime “Massachusetts moderate” ran to the right and tapped uber-righty Ryan because he thinks the whole country has veered as far right as the GOP has, that the tea party folks who pack heat and signs claming "OBAMA’S PLAN WHITE SLAVERY” are mainstream America.

Anyway, likeability is also a big factor in winning elections. Obama is away ahead of Romney in polls that ask voters which candidate they think is the most likeable. I don’t see that Ryan helps Romney in that department.

The GOP honchos claim likeability really doesn’t matter in politics. I suspect they know it really does.

The late Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois told me it was a big reason he stemmed the Reagan tide in 1984 and unseated Charles Percy, a millionaire like Romney.

“I was going door to door in one of those Republican suburbs of Chicago . This guy came up to me on the sidewalk and said, ‘Mr. Simon, I don’t agree you on most issues. But I’m going to vote for you because I like you.'”

I don’t see the Romney-Ryan team experiencing anything like that. To a lot of voters, Romney comes across as a gaffe-a-minute Richie Rich, a guy who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple, a panderer who will say just about anything to get elected.

Ryan is a True Believer who scares the bejeebers out of a lot of people.

Anyway, my old Kentucky home is halfway across the country from Democratic National Committee HQ in Washington . But my guess is last Saturday, when Romney chose Ryan, champagne corks were popping off the walls.

But the sounds of wailing and gnashing of teeth evidently echoed from behind closed doors at the Republican National Committee in D.C. “Away from the cameras, and with all the usual assurances that people aren’t being quoted by name, there is an unmistakable consensus among Republican operatives in Washington: Romney has taken a risk with Ryan that has only a modest chance of going right—and a huge chance of going horribly wrong,” Alexander Burns, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin write on the Politico Internet website.

[dc]“I[/dc]n more than three dozen interviews with Republican strategists and campaign operatives—old hands and rising next-generation conservatives alike—the most common reactions to Ryan ranged from gnawing apprehension to hair-on-fire anger that Romney has practically ceded the election,” they wrote.

Berry Craig

Berry Craig

Posted: Wednesday, 15 August 2012