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Paul Ryan’s Reaganesque Rise in Stature

As a reporter in Washington, one of the strange things that happens sometimes is that the guy you saw hanging around, taking the subway beneath the Capitol from his office to the floor to cast a vote – the guy you grabbed as he walked down a hall to ask him a few questions about some bill or other – suddenly becomes a major figure on the national and world stage.

Tall, a little geeky, and youthful, Paul Ryan is one of those members of Congress you’d find around the Capitol – accessible, genial, eager to explain his various proposals – whom you’d never think twice about saying hello to.

He soon rose, though, from a bright young conservative barely tolerated by the hoary GOP leadership to someone who was leading the GOP on fiscal issues from his relatively obscure – to the country, not to those of us who cover Washington – position as chairman of the House Budget Committee.

But for most folks, he was still mainly a nobody, and to us, in many ways, just another ambitious young politician, albeit smarter than most.

Even when he was introduced to the country just under three weeks ago by Mitt Romney in Norfolk, Virginia, he looked a little bit like Robin, The Boy Wonder, to Romney’s Batman. It wasn’t the “Gosh, thanks dad” feeling you got from Dan Quayle when George H.W. Bush unveiled him in 1988. Robin is a fighter in his own right. But it was still a little bit hard, at least for me, to imagine Ryan as vice president or president.

Not after last night.

What Ryan did Wednesday evening, during a moment that entails more pressure than nearly any other in American politics – the vice presidential self-introduction to the country – was make clear to the nation that he is ready for the big time, is ready to take on President Obama and Vice President Biden, and prepared to enter the vice president’s office in the West Wing and begin comfortably working there his first day on the job.

What’s more, with his sense of purpose, he showed he’ll have no trouble or hesitation ambling down the hall to the Oval Office to make sure whatever’s coming out of there has his ideas written all over it.

Confident, comfortable, smart, forceful and even funny, Ryan delivered a fast ball over the plate that nearly put a hole in the catcher’s glove. It’s a dangerous thing to exalt a Republican politician as Reaganesque, as I have already done with respect to Ryan. But last night he confirmed it.

Ryan’s remarks, imbued with principles in a way that only those profoundly familiar with conservative thought can achieve, and delivered with an sense of optimism about the future and disappointment in his opponents – as opposed to harsh anger – was indeed Reagan-like.

Ryan is not in Reagan’s league as a speaker, and for the first half of the speech he was a little flat. But he rose to a crescendo – and rose to the occasion – in a manner that transported the convention hall into a modest state of delirium.

Finally, a candidate for national office unafraid to talk about real issues and respectful enough of the American people to deliver to them the harsh facts about our national predicament. Finally, a messenger unafraid of being shot.

What was most Reaganesque was Ryan’s understanding that a Republican candidate can sell the country conservative values, and voters will make the purchase and even pay a premium.

Voters, to paraphrase Chris Chistie’s speech Tuesday night, want to be respected as much as they want to be loved.

Obama is selling love – sugary sweets filled with electric vehicles, endless spending on entitlements, and money taken from the rich.

Ryan, with his empathetic manner and his commitment to telling voters the truth about what’s wrong and what needs to be done about it, is offering both love and respect.

And that’s Reagenesque.

41 Responses to Paul Ryan’s Reaganesque Rise in Stature

  1. You hit this one out of the park, Keith! No one is more deserving of your accolades than Paul Ryan – he earned his stripes last night! What a guy!

  2. The political establishment, on both sides of the aisle, misread the voter’s intent in 2008 when they approved MrO’s ‘hope and change’ message. When the hope and change turned into ‘bait and switch’, the voters sent another message in 2010 and that was we wanted Washington to change the way they managed our country.

    The Repubs finally got it; we’re ready for that adult conversation and willing to make sacrifices to right our ship of state. Talking about changing Medicare doesn’t scare us, Obamacare’s mandates scare us.
    We know that if the Romney/Ryan ticket wins in November they have a massive and painful job to do.
    CongRyan is the brilliant oncologist who looks you in the eye, tells you the truth, but lets you know there are options that might mitigate the ‘disease’.

    The Romney/Ryan team presents as a young, confident, and brilliant duo that makes the Obama/Biden team look old, weary, and not too bright by comparision

  3. Well done, Keith. Mark Levin promised Paul Ryan’s speech would be fantastic and he sure didn’t disappoint. Watched it twice just to bask in the glorious words of a true conservative. Like Reagan did with Carter, Ryan was able to slice and dice Obama without name-calling and with a smile on his face…from Obama’s vision of “a country where everything is free but us”, to the unemployed college grads staring at fading Obama posters in their childhood bedroom. All in all, it was an awe-inspiring, uplifting speech. Reagan would be proud to be compared to Paul Ryan.

  4. Ryan is more qualified to be President that either Oblamo or Bungler, errr, I mean Biden.

    Excellent, excellent speech.

    The electoral map from Intrade trading is beginning to look ragged for Oblamo:

    You can invest in states through if you are so inclined. Swing states like Virginia and Wisconsin are trading at even money which is pretty amazing.

  5. This question of whether one wants to be respected or love is straight out of Machiavelli’s “The Prince”. He asks the question whether a prince should prefer to be feared or loved though. In the end, he concludes it is better to be feared. The GOP has through Christie, now Ryan, and Romney’s interview for Parade magazine re-iterated they want to be respected, not loved. Will they also argue that the ends justify the means? Probably not, given the word “Respect” instead of “Fear”.

  6. Thank you Keith, great article. Good to to hear that Ryan is a nice, accessible,real and smart guy when you meet him in person. I am sure he will be an inspiring leader who cooperates well with people, necessary now with so many tough decisions to negotiate when Romney – Ryan have to clean up after the present administration.

  7. The most impressive part of his speech, for me, was when he started talking more of the nuts an bolts of our fiscal situation. The crowd was silent, and there were no applause lines. They were riveted. And, it was wonderful.

  8. I am not a Reagan fan–I thought he was himself and I enjoyed the speech a lot. Got many rude, unsolicted emails from people this AM–so I know it had an effect. Our paper tried to say he spoke only to the “faithful”–well, these people are not the faithful by any means–and they were alarmed!

  9. Love Ryan however boring they may be a geeky numbers man will get you more than a honeyed phrase and almost $16,000,000,000 in debt. Obama can’t talk himself out of that number!

  10. A point little raised is that Paul Ryan’s great performance shines glory on Mitt Romney as well for making such a great decision in selecting Congressman Ryan, and it bodes well for Mitt’s decision making ability during a time in our history when difficult decisions must be made.

    A beautifully eloquent essay, Mr. Koffler.

    • Thank you for pointing out that one of the jobs of the President is to pick good people to advise him! No one man can know everything about everything, so he needs reliable people he can trust to support him. It is the mark of a good executive that he can pick people of quality to advise him, and that he can trust delegation of tasks to. The President needs the skills of an Executive, maybe because he is in the Executive branch…

      Now, let’s look at the quality picks Obama made;
      Well, there’s Biden…uh, wait, Holder…umm, Geithner…err, Jarret…oof, Napolitano…ooo, Sebeliuss.s.s.s, Oh, I got it, IMMELT! Wait, what…OOH, I KNOW, THE CLINTONS!!!!

      We are who we know. What do these picks say about the picker?

      It’s early yet, but it appears Romney will do better. At least he’s not afraid to pick someone who may actually outshine him, as it’s someone he knows has some real, needed competence.

  11. Ryan is such a magnificent asset to the Romney team.

    Regime operatives are out there demonizing this honorable man. They’re all over the Leftist media spreading their lies and obfuscation of the facts. These mangy dogs are ardently supported by their sleazy, bootlicking, media propagandists. See how they manipulate not only written content, but photos as well. This from the Gray Old Toothless Hag of Leftist Propaganda: “NYT bias bleeds through photos of Ryan at RNC”

    • The left really seems to be going bonkers after Ryan’s speech. I’m just waiting for their heads to start spinning around and the projectile vomiting of split pea soup to commence.

  12. Keith – Why do you think that Comrade Barry is “selling love”? It’s has plain as day to me that he’s selling hate. That’s all he has, and the lapdog steno pool media repeats this dictated message of hate over and over and over.

    • Lizzy – that wasn’t a burqa, Joe left his house with his robe and slippers doing his Vincent Gigante impersonation. Vince/Vinnie was the mafia guy, who for years roamed his NYC neighborhood in pj’s, robe and slippers, mumbling incoherently, trying to convince the Feds he was nuts. : )

      For more real news, I like the People’s Cube.