President Paul Ryan? Think About it
There were many reasons a majority of Americans (including this writer) voted for Barack Obama rather than John McCain in 2008. But one big one was McCain’s choice of a running mate — Sarah Palin. The Alaska governor was so obviously, so manifestly unqualified to be President of the United States in the event President McCain died or became incapacitated, that the very thought of this possibility scared the daylights out of a lot of voters.
Which beings us to the 2012 election. Obviously almost all voters will — and should — make their selection for President in November based on who is on top of the ticket. Perhaps it might be worth sparing a moment or two on a just-in-case scenario, however, to think about who would take over if the man on the top were no longer able to govern. Biden or Ryan.
I’ll pass over the many and important ideological differences between the two here because they are quite clearly debatable. Let’s just look at some things that aren’t.
Biden has a longer career in an upper chamber of the national legislature. However he may be viewed among voters he is well respected within actual governing circles, even within Republican ranks, people with whom he often worked on legislation, befriended, done deals with over a long period of years.
Biden also has something that appears of increasing importance these days — broad foreign policy experience. He is especially knowledgeable about the Middle East and the Afghan-Pakistan-India parts of the world, places where he has actually been active making policy within the present administration.
Biden therefore isn’t the kind of person who would be dependent in an emergency on slanted input from think tankers, the military, or highly partisan other interests. He might take such advice or not, but he knows enough to look beyond it with an experienced personal eye.
Ryan came from a partisan think tank background and has been active in a highly partisan economic and tax debate during most of his time in the House of Representatives. He is not highly respected by members on the other side of the aisle because he has never seriously negotiated with them much less cut deals with them in any meaningful way.
In foreign affairs he has no noticeable experience whatever and would thus be totally dependent on Pentagon, think tank, and special political interests for advice in making decisions.
We will vote the top of the ticket in the next month or so. But many of us will also look a bit lower on the ticket. The differences here go well beyond the ideological. If Palin scared you because she might have been a heartbeat from the presidency, maybe you should feel the same about Rep. Paul Ryan. Personally, I find the thought terrifying.