"If you believe in freedom, liberty, self-determination, free enterprise, I don't care if you're a Muslim, Jewish, Agnostic, Christian, gay, straight, Latino, black, white, Irish, whatever. Join us."Yeah, it's easy to see why Ryan's a rising star for the GOP. C'mon, ladies: Those blue eyes? That thick hair? That aw-shucks grin?
-- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Good Looking)
A dude like that could tempt Cynthia Yockey. Oh, what the heck -- he could tempt me.
This was one of my basic insights into the massive fail of Crazy Cousin John. Even without his RINO deviations, Maverick had the problem of being old, short, grumpy and, worst of all, bald.
When was the last time America elected a bald president? Ike. Welcome to the TV age. Therefore, when in doubt in a GOP primary, always vote for the guy with the best hair.
Unlike Mitt Romney, however, Ryan's not only got great hair, he also seems to have conservative principles. He's also very shrewd. I remember being in the press lounge at CPAC this year while Ryan was giving the keynote address. I was checking my e-mail and moderating comments, and the TV was on behind me, so I heard, rather than saw, Ryan's speech, when I made this update:
In his keynote address, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) just called for "sound money" -- evincing cheers from the Paulistas.
Ding! That impressed me, even before I turned around and saw this good-looking Irish kid who's got "telegenic" like I've got "crazy."
The Paulistas were a well-organized presence at CPAC this year, with young volunteers handing out fliers in the hotel corridors and various events scheduled throughout the conference. The phrase "sound money" is like magic with Paulistas and, whether it was pre-planned or ad-libbed, those two words were the smartest thing Ryan said.
If there is one lesson to take away from the 2008 campaign -- besides the hopeless folly of running an old bald guy for president -- it's that Republicans can't win unless they unite their base as the foundation of a broad coalition strategy.
Ron Paul got 1.2 million GOP primary votes and raised $35 million. Compare that to Rudy Giuliani, who spent $59 million to get fewer than 600,000 votes. Giuliani represented no constiuency that John McCain did not equally represent. Watching those two during the GOP debates was like watching Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.
Given the current political realities, the Republican Party simply can't afford to ignore the votes, the money and the grassroots energy that the Paulistas offer. And with two words -- "sound money" -- Ryan acknowledged that fact. Very smart.
Ryan's a married Catholic father of three, so he can count on the family values vote. If he can sound like Peter Schiff on economics and sound like Mark Krikorian on immigration, he would have no problem getting the rest of the Reagan coalition on board for 2012.
Yes, I said 2012. This doesn't mean I'm abandoning Sarah Palin. But tempus fugits, and if she doesn't have time to attend CPAC or the GOP congressional fundraiser in 2009, then if she's going to run for re-election as governor in 2010, it's going to be hard for Palin to catch up with all the Republicans who are organizing 2012 presidential campaigns now.
If conservatives don't want to be faced with a choice between Romney and Jeb Bush -- No More Bushes! -- we're going to have to get behind somebody PDQ, and Ryan is definitely somebody. He's extremely young (only 39), and he's only a congressman, not a senator or a governor, but he's from a Midwestern swing state (and attended college in Ohio), so he's got that Electoral College factor going for him. Plus, the Heritage Foundation loves the guy.
Lots of Republican strategists harbor little hope for beating Obama in 2012, so if Palin wants to wait for 2016 or later . . . hey, why not let the Irish kid take a shot? You gotta admit: Ryan's looking good.