Bill Kristol’s Ryanmania cannot be contained:
But perhaps the most important effect of the Ryan pick is this: It turns the GOP effort from a campaign into a movement. It transforms a mere electoral effort into a political cause. The Romney 2012 campaign no longer brings to mind its Republican predecessor, the McCain campaign of 2008. Instead, Romney-Ryan could end up more closely resembling Obama 2008.
Kristol probably doesn’t mean to suggest that Romney-Ryan could end up being a huge disappointment to its biggest enthusiasts, but that is what the comparison with Obama 2008 implies. The “movement” connected with Obama’s 2008 campaign seemed to weaken very quickly, and insofar as it still exists it has never regained the energy or activism that characterized it in 2007-08. That’s understandable. No administration was ever going to be able to live up to the unrealistic expectations that were being set in 2008. The out-party is usually the more motivated one, and it is much easier for supporters of the incumbent to become demoralized and disillusioned when the incumbent governs in a way they dislike and when the incumbent encounters sustained opposition for most of his term.
Even if it were true that Ryan has transformed a “mere” organization of political operatives into “a groundswell of citizens spontaneously writing, volunteering, and proselytizing on behalf of a cause” (a.k.a., a presidential campaign), all that this means is that Ryan has increased enthusiasm for the ticket. There is no more popular enthusiasm for Medicare reform this weekend than there was before Ryan’s selection, and the political cause that Ryanmaniacs are supporting is the election of the Republican nominees. Where are the gathering crowds of “eager” citizens clamoring for premium support?
Are citizens “eager to join” the cause? Perhaps some are, but where is the proof? Kristol’s paean is happily unencumbered by anything so mundane as evidence showing a huge burst of enthusiasm for the Republican ticket. The immediate benefit to the Romney campaign in its poll ratings is apparently below-average, and based on early fundraising after the Ryan announcement the campaign brought in money a little more slowly than McCain did after the Palin announcement. Instead of referring vaguely to citizens, it would be more accurate to say that Bill Kristol is now eager to join Romney’s cause after months of publicly wishing that almost anyone else would be the nominee.
Update: Here is the “movement” in action:
While Ryan explained his complicated plans at length during dozens of Medicare town hall-style meetings before becoming Romney’s running mate, those kinds of meetings probably are over because they’re considered too politically dangerous to continue.
Instead, Ryan is being encouraged to discuss his young children, his working-class background and his love of the outdoors as the American people get to know him [bold mine-DL].
“Let’s play stump the running mate later. Right now I want to enjoy the fair,” Ryan said when asked about Medicare at the Iowa State Fair.
“We do cow-milking contests in Wisconsin,” he continued. “I usually lose to a 17-year-old woman who grew up on a dairy farm, who’s wearing like a sash and tiara.”
His children, working-class background, and love of the outdoors? It’s as if the Romney campaign wants Ryan to be perceived as another Palin.