Rich Lowry revisits the crazy, inexplicable demand for a Paul Ryan presidential bid:
If Ryan ever wants to run for president, he should definitely do it now.
Paul Ryan is 41 years old, and a member of the House, so he has no need to run yet, and he wouldn’t get very far if he did. If Ryan wanted someday to launch a presidential bid, he might first seek statewide office to demonstrate that he can appeal to a broader electorate. Should he have no chance of winning statewide office in Wisconsin, that tells us something about the limitations of Ryan as a national candidate. In four years, unless the Republican nominee wins, there will be an open field and Ryan could take his chance then without having to face an incumbent President in the fall. Depending on what happens over the next few years, Ryan might be able to shepherd some important legislation through the House, which would let him have some significant accomplishments he could tout as a candidate later on.
Had Ryan been contemplating a presidential campaign at any time this year, his best moment passed several months ago. Before June, when Bachmann and Perry had not yet entered, Ryan might have established himself as an interesting minor candidate. His candidacy would continue to be constrained by his record of fiscal irresponsibility, his budget wonk expertise, and his association with unpopular Medicare reform, but there would have been more of an opening for him early on. In a field with Perry and Bachmann, Ryan would become the other candidates’ favorite pinata. Perry considers Medicare Part D a gigantic mistake, so Ryan’s talking points about its supposed cost control benefits wouldn’t be left unchallenged. Bachmann has made her opposition to the TARP one of her favorite applause lines, and Ryan voted for the program.
Lowry sees this opening for him:
Ryan could occupy the Pawlenty space in the field, or what seemed as though it would be the Pawlenty space–the potential consensus candidate from the Upper Midwest.
It is an understatement when Lowry says that sounds “very unappealing” right now. Maybe the “Pawlenty space” just isn’t very big. Suppose that it is a large space. Why doesn’t Bachmann occupy this space right now? Apart from the debt ceiling increase (which all the other candidates except for Huntsman also opposed), which position has she taken that seriously offends a major faction of the Republican Party? She is a three-term House member best known for her opposition to unpopular legislation. Paul Ryan is a
fiveseven-term House member who was best known prior to this Congress for being complicit in every major deficit-expanding policy of the previous administration. Neither one stands much chance in the general election, but one was badly compromised by profligate Bush-era policies.
Update: The post has been corrected to show that Ryan is a seven term Congressman. He was first elected in 1998. I regret the error.