by Joe Shea
April 12, 2012
TWO WHITE GUYS IN SUITS? NOT FOR THIS AMERICA
BRADENTON, Fla., Aug. 12, 2012 -- Mitt Romney's choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential running mate for the GOP nomination is not likely to excite or surprise anyone. The Republicans propose to replace a man of color and a colorful Irishman with a pair of corporate statists whose ability to connect with ordinary people is in serious doubt.
Are the American people ready to replace original characters with corporate copycats? I doubt it. Rep. Ryan's only appeal is as head of the House Budget Committee, where he has led the Republican fight to cut budgets and deficits while staving off the end of tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals. Wisconsin will be hurt by the loss of his seniority in the House; he's been there without especially distinguishing himself for seven terms.
Ryan, a Catholic, like Romney is opposed to abortion, and a Romney Administration is likely to also want to reduce Medicare payouts, food stamps and other trappings of the American safety net. While Ryan is, among national figures, a competent if not charismatic speaker, he seems unlikely to galvanize any particular sector of the population as, for instance, Geraldine Ferraro and Sarah Palin galvanized women.
Who does a straight-laced white guy in a suit inspire? If Romney had chosen Ron Paul, the furor and the fervor would be dramatically different. Ron Paul stands for something beyond the American corporate culture, and the shock and surprise would reverberate past Election Day.
People who cannot get excited about a Paul Ryan would work tirelessly for a Ron Paul, and for better or worse, Romney is going to need those kinds of people. He's got a million-odd Mormons ready to throw themselves into the race, and they will probably help, but enthusiasm and excitement doesn't define the Mormon image in America; instead, it's an image of unsmiling, conservative people who believe some rather strange things about golden tablets, Joseph Smith, holy underpants and an angel named Moroni.
It's a matter of historical record that they slaughtered hundreds of American Indians to seize Utah for their own, and that they barred black people from the priesthood until just two decades ago. Mormon guards surrounded Howard Hughes and presided over his long, slow death as a toenail-clipping recluse, and then over disposal of his many casinos in Las Vegas. They run Salt Lake City as tightly as the Pope runs Vatican City, rubbing the wrong way against our deeper American values associated with separation of church and state.
We can't help but mention that when the City of Los Angeles won the 2000 Summer Olympic Games and promised not to be a burden on the American taxpayer, they eventually cost that taxpayer $75 million. Sen. John McCain in a Senate floor speech in 2002 damned the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics run by Mitt Romney as a cornucopia of pork-barrel projects that cost U.S, taxpayers $1.2-billion. Romney ads have been slow to mention that, and instead paint him as a savior of the Winter Olympics who brought order to a corrupt and roiling mess.
Rep. Paul Ryan is probably a nice guy at the personal level, but he's not what a diverse, dynamic, economically challenged America need to prepare its future. We need people able to think outside of the box; who might see the current incredibly low interest rates as a good reason to borrow; and who don't believe the American safety net is the last refuge of parasites.
If we didn't need a guy like Romney, we surely don't need - and won't elect - two white guys in suits.
Correction: Earlier versions of this story mistakenly identified Rep. Paul Ryan as an Ohio Republican; he represents the First District of Wisconsin, his native state. Earlier versions also mistakenly referred to his tenure in the House of Representatives. He is serving his seventh two-year term.