Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

A Ryan flashback: Play forward the what if game

by John Halverson

August 16, 2012

EDITORíS NOTE: The following column first appeared in the Regional News April 4, 2011. While the subject matter is putting the cart before the horse, it nonetheless seemed timely.

Wisconsinís own Paul Ryan could be president some day.

Whether he should be president is a different matter ó but as far as viability is concerned, look at the facts:

The Republicans are looking for a fresh face. Mitt Romney is wooden. Newt Gingrich is old hat. Donald Trump is a joke. The Tea Party leaning candidates probably canít pull enough of the moderate voters needed to win. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty? Doubtful. So, that leaves the Republican Party with ... nobody.

Enter Paul Ryan at just the right time.

Over the last couple of years, his star has been on the rise. Just recently he shot up to the could-be-President level by becoming the poster boy for the Republican budget strategy.

It comes at a time when President Barack Obama isnít selling his leadership style ó following instead of leading on Libya, waiting for the Republicans to broach the touchy subjects of Social Security and Medicare. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have privately acknowledged that those two social programs need a revamping, but neither side had the courage to touch the issue ó until now.

Americans, right or wrong, believe that something must be done about our economic future. In times of real or perceived crisis, Americans have been willing to accept, even invite, tough medicine ó and they wonít be any more willing than they are now.

Itís all a nice break for Ryan. His long-term budget proposals have been around for awhile, and the Social Security and Medicare aspects were downplayed. Now, it seems, heís taken what might be a small window of opportunity to solidify his credentials.

In addition, Ryan has a clean record and he comes from the Midwest.

He has the look of a President ó a strong, Mt. Rushmore-ready face that stands out in a crowd. Heís tall and has a presence thatís both commanding and approachable and, most of all, self-assured. Like it or not, style matters.

He has political savvy, a sense of timing and an ability to handle the pressure of a national campaign. Heís unlikely to make the killer mistake.

He comes across as smart, articulate and reasonable ó traits he shares with Obama. A debate between the two would be like a dual between Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks. In fact, Iíd love to see it ó as it might be a great opportunity for our nationís two differing perspectives to be presented by the two people best able to argue for them.

Yes, Paul Ryan could be President, but it probably wonít be in 2012.

Most incumbents get re-elected. As low as Obamaís ratings are now, thatís typical of mid-term presidents. Already he seems to be drifting toward the center as Bill Clinton did to win a second term. And if the economy comes back and Obama communicates that fact with the electorate, heíll be hard to beat.

Ryan is too smart to enter the fray unless he has a good chance of winning. Being a sacrificial candidate like Bob Dole or Hubert Humphrey is a career killer.

Heís (now) only 42, so thereís no hurry. But, who knows, if circumstances change ó and this is a volatile time ó Ryan might be the man for the moment as far as the Republicans are concerned.

In other words, like his political views or not, heís got the makings of a winner.

Halverson is the general manager of the Regional News.