...AND CHOOSING PAUL RYAN AS A RUNNING MATE PROVES IT
Gotta know when to fold em' -- Perhaps only Paul Ryan can save Mitt -- from himself. Photo - Shannon Stapleton/REUTERS
Go Figure. In terms of strategic political net worth, the choice of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate carries the same value as a counterfeit fifty in Bloomingdales. But, as a calculated act of political suicide, it's priceless. If this decision was Mitt's alone, then his announcement of Ryan's selection could be interpreted as a subconscious cry for help; as Romney's way of transmitting that he simply doesn't want to live as President of the United States.
You'd think Mitt was in the tank for Obama. After all, what better way to throw in the towel or, at the very least, consciously booby-trap a campaign three months shy of an electoral showdown than by picking the kind of running mate sure to send an entire key voting bloc scampering over to the other side?
Of course, his introduction of Ryan as the next "president" buttresses an entire range of likely Freudian interpretations. My own inner Freud senses a candidate backing out of a losing campaign and greasing the skids for the guy in the corner over there who called "next!" Through his conscious choice of Ryan (who's basically a less pudgy, less pious Rick Santorum) and his sub-conscious portrayal of his running mate as "the next president," Mitt seems inching toward his campaign's big red TERMINATE PROGRAM button or, at a minimum, transitioning his presidential run into lame-duck status.
Actually, lame would precisely describe the obnoxiously pretentious backdrop created for the occasion. Considering that neither served in the military, the sight of the GOP's twin fiscal dynamos posing in front of a battleship did little beyond offer a Dali -like vision of optical incongruity -- sort of like Mike Dukakis in a tank. Perhaps an announcement before a giant holograph of Houston's Enron Tower may have produced a more realistic focus. But a freakin' battleship? That's hardly the place for two chicken-hawks clucking around in deficit-hawks' clothing -- unless of course, the ship, like Romney, is an empty vessel.
But troubles with this announcement don't end with an aesthetically inharmonic backdrop. Ryan's speech was a profoundly underwhelming chat lacking the kind of resuscitative spark the Romney campaign sorely needs on the heels of a wretched two-month stretch working the Etch-a-Sketch shtick both at home and abroad.
But it's not as if sparks aren't flying between the two candidates. Mitt seems quite smitten by Ryan and vice-versa. Even if Mitt is figuratively throwing in the towel, it's nevertheless easy to assume that the two newly-minted BFFs truly anticipate their initial bro-mantic excursions on the stump prior to enduring parting's sweet sorrow when the time comes to for each to hit the campaign trail solo.
So yes, Mittens and Paulo are good friends. Friends with benefits? We'll just have to wait and see. Anyway, as the saying goes; just sayin'.
But another saying -- "game recognizes game" -- also explains why the fact that the two get along so well shouldn't be much of a surprise. After all, both are privileged millionaire doppelgangers who -- perhaps due to a head-start in life derived from family inheritances -- realize the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Their relationship depicts the symbiotic bond between two distinct forms of fiscal/financial hucksterism -- Romney's gaming of the private domain via what Texas Governor Rick Perry described as " vulture capitalism " and Ryan's gaming of governmental largesse via a fiscal philosophy classified as " right-wing social engineering " by someone who should know: Newt Gingrich.
What's more, I'd argue that like Romney's thoroughly mythologized "rescue" of the 2002 Olympics, the most flagrant misnomer applied to Ryan is that his deficit-reduction proposals form a personal outline of undaunted political courage, deep philosophical integrity, and iron-clad core values.
This seems to imply that in Ryan's case, political courage -- demonstrated by submitting a budget proposal that rakes the poor and middle class over the coals in order to protect the interests of the one-percent -- is set at a deplorably low standard. Fair enough " I guess. But wouldn't it also stand to reason that an even higher standard of courage would involve running on, not away from that budget proposal -- as Romney is already doing ? But I wouldn't count on Ryan focusing on his budget during the remainder of the campaign any more than Romney -- unless he's trying to help Mitt lose.
The reasons are obvious. Ryan's budget plan makes for a nice way of sucking in the kind of national attention that's useful in a statewide election. But it's dead weight as a means to winning a national election. Certainly, Paul Ryan had figured out from the onset that no economist is required for voters to figure out that his budget is fiscally sound -- but only if some country can be found that's willing to take care of about 47 million American retirees.
So today Ryan -- who one has to believe never dreamed his budget bluster would propel him to vice-presidential consideration -- probably now realizes that it would have been better had he sat tight on the plan rather than re-introduce slightly revised versions in 2011 and early 2012.