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August 16, 2012

Paul Ryan: An Interesting Choice

Patricia A. Kelly

My original column for this week started with, “My head is hurting.” The subject, and what was causing the headache, was the lies, misleading sound bites and vituperative remarks that have, until now, characterized the current political campaign for president.


Once one starts down any path, whether it be accepting the sight of “rear-end” cracks in public, public display of affection, rudeness as a virtue, or just plain meanness, it seems to grow like a snowball going downhill. It appears to me that this has happened in terms of the ugliness and irrelevance of political campaigning.


One might as well watch “Real New Jersey Housewives” to find out the state of the issues facing this country as to watch political ads.


Not only that, but, once an ad has been “outed” by fact checkers as false, it continues to run. Think of the Bain Capital ads, for example. How the guy who saved Staples has ruined the lives of workers….


Presidential candidate Mitt Romney may have just made an attempt to turn this around with the nomination of Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for vice president. If he really means, as he says he does, to turn this race from manure slinging to issue discussion, we owe him a debt of gratitude.


Mr. Romney may have also done something else that’s extraordinary. He may have paid the American people a huge compliment by respecting them enough to believe that they will be able to find the truth through the smokescreen that is covering this nation.


Maybe he’s just doing it because he doesn’t think he can win the “manure” war that is going on.


Maybe he really wants to create a campaign of issues, and believes the American people are smart enough to understand the real ones.


Looking through AOL’s “news stories” around midday Tuesday, there were two mentions of Paul Ryan. The first headline used the words, “Bad News.” Under that headline was a meaningless report comparing the number of people who today think Mr. Ryan is an asset to the campaign with the number who felt that way about vice presidential candidates at this point in prior elections.


The second was a piece discussing Bristol Palin’s view of Congressman Ryan. Bristol is going to be praying for Mr. Ryan and his family because they are in for the most difficult 90 days of their lives. Wonder what would make her think that.


I guess these stories give you AOL’s slant on Paul Ryan. Conveniently located on about the same page was an opportunity to wish President Barack Obama a happy birthday.


Of course, there’s been a lot of other talk since the Veep nomination, and more manure slinging. One of my personal favorites is the assertion that Congressman Ryan’s budget would destroy Medicare, and turn it into a voucher system, throwing grandma out of her wheelchair, so to speak.


Mr. Ryan says that his proposal was intended to save Medicare, by changing the present system for future retirees now under the age of 55, in order to insure that there are enough funds to provide the medical care already promised to seniors beyond that age. He said it would be completely unfair to deny them the benefits promised to them, since they planned their retirements around them.


Mr. Ryan is said to be very intelligent and a good guy. He is called by Paul Gigot, Wall Street Journal’s editorial page editor, a member of the Reform Wing of the Republican Party. Mr. Gigot stated on Monday’s “Opinion Journal” that Paul Ryan has helped to clarify Mitt Romney’s campaign in a more positive light for many voters, and that he has influenced former Massachusetts Governor Romney behind the scenes to clarify his positions on Medicare and tax reform.


Other opinions include that Mr. Ryan is a Tea Party ideologue, a perfect leader for the racist, homophobic, extreme right wingers who want to hurt the poor in this country.


Paul Ryan has a public reputation as a conservative. Among thinking people, he is considered intelligent, serious, thoughtful and charismatic, an experienced, effective congressman. If nothing else, he was willing to take the political risk of making a counter proposal to the president’s budget, one that aimed to move in the direction of lowering debt, and moving in the direction of balance.


Still, he could be either a risky choice politically for Governor Romney, or one that offers us hope, whatever the outcome, of an issues-based campaign. Nothing could be more needed at such a crucial time.


Do we have the guts to vote for two white guys?


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