The second night of the 2012 Republican National Convention came to a close last night following the speech of vice-presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Ryan, who was selected as Mitt Romney’s running mate in the beginning of August; has received both praise amongst the conservative wing of the Republican Party and scorn amongst the nation’s progressives for his proposed budget plan entitled the Path to Prosperity.
Now while Ryan has made himself at home on the campaign trail as Mitt Romney’s loudest surrogate, last night’s speech was easily the most important of his political career. Following speeches from party leaders such as Mike Huckabee and up-and-comers such as Susana Martinez, Rand Paul & Pam Bondi; Ryan took the stage to address the Republican delegation.
I like to think that a majority of featured speeches have a similar structure to most Top-40 pop songs. You get an intro (welcoming themselves with a random local connection), melody (theme of the speech), chorus (nothing but fluff to earn cheap applause and ovations), a bridge (story about family) before finally concluding the speech amongst cheers, hoots and hollers.
Ryan’s speech for the most part stayed true to that basic structure and while the crowd definitely was in awe of the wide-eyed Congressman; he did lose some of his charm at times throughout his speech.
As someone who will never vote for Paul Ryan, even I can see his appeal to conservative voters. He might lack the grandeur of Chris Christie, the folksiness of Mike Huckabee or the statesman/woman appeal of say Condoleezza Rice; he definitely has a wonk appeal to the party’s right wing. Ryan strictly comes off as a “numbers, facts & figures” politician as opposed to a fiery neoconservative (a la Rick Santorum) or one with say, Rand Paul’s inherited, devoted fanbase. Paul Ryan is much like the political science major in your general education class that answers all the questions because he spent his whole summer reading the textbook front-to-back.
That’s just who he is. Even though it’s been shown that he is not all that different from Todd Akin when it comes to social issues; Ryan has done a reasonably solid job at glossing over that part of his political career. Most people just assume that Ryan’s career was purely as a budget hawk as opposed to a hawkish figure when it comes to subjects such as abortion or gay marriage. Which goes to show that was more than likely Paul Ryan’s plan when it came to making himself a national figure with national aspirations.
All of that though was forgotten when Paul Ryan took the stage in Tampa last night which you could read here. The speech was criticized for containing numerous “errors” or “lies” throughout it’s duration was still Paul Ryan’s welcoming party to the mainstream, non-political junkie, world.
Nonetheless, the fact remains that while Ryan received lavish praise from his base; it still left a lot to desire. He started off by praising the top of the ticket and criticizing the Obama administration for “throwing money away” and “running out of ideas”.
While that can be disagreed with ad nauseam, Ryan is not exactly the greatest person at keeping government spending down as indicated by his support for TARP and the Iraq War which didn’t exactly cost nothing. So yes, Paul Ryan is responsible for at least part of that national debt clock that the Republican Party carries around with them wherever they go.
Then Paul Ryan started talking about his family life which was easily the high point of his speech. You got to appreciate the hard work that his mother did to provide for her family as well as the sadness that the family went through with the death of Paul Ryan’s father, when Ryan was 16 years old. Say what you want about the man, and yes he received government help to get through college which should not be forgotten, but you couldn’t help but try to relate to him when his family came up.
As the speech progressed, Paul Ryan uttered the line that everyone was talking about immediately afterward and that was the “error”/”lie” of President Barack Obama being responsible for the closure of a General Motors plant which was actually closed before he took office. Unfortunately for Ryan, the Republicans have had to do some damage control over the fallacy and has received the most criticism from the media.
When Ryan started to wind down his speech, he espoused his faith which certainly was well-received amongst the party loyalists as well as continued bashing of the Obama administration before he briefly mentioned Mitt Romney again. For the most part, he playfully bashed Mitt Romney’s music choices which he claimed he heard “on many hotel elevators” (I think his family laughed at that) before very briefly touting Romney’s business acumen and success with the 2002 Winter Olympics.
But what Ryan failed to do was really drive a good point for Mitt Romney. While he was less “selfish” than say Rick Santorum or Chris Christie when it came to promoting the now-nominee of the party, the speech was still short on fluff for Romney. Ryan mentioned the need for more jobs but if you were watching his speech, he didn’t get that “wonky” on us which was probably a controlled move to appeal to non-political junkies. Still, with that Ryan became someone else for his speech as opposed to being himself and it showed. Ryan isn’t a “rah-rah” type guy and he knows that, but when it came to playing a cheerleader for the Romney-Ryan ticket….it certainly didn’t pay off.
Really the main focus point of Ryan’s speech is that Ryan has a bright future ahead of him when it comes to national politics. He may never be President or Vice President, but the consensus seemed to be that Ryan was the future of the Republican Party and the future number one choice amongst all social and fiscal conservatives.
I wasn’t fully impressed, but the crowd reactions spoke for itself. While Ryan was certainly not genuine, he was definitely loved. Will he overshadow Mitt Romney? That remains to be seen, but the legacy of Paul Ryan is now being built before our eyes.