In another segment (vimeo.com/47491264), Ryan explains what makes him tick:
"There are three things about my job that get me going. ... One, you can help people with specific problems in their lives ... at a very tough time in their lives. That's really rewarding. That's constituent service."
The next thing Ryan says is very telling: He loves to put ideas into legislation that make people's lives better. "That's the second great thing about this job."
But then he gets his Irish up and admits that a good intellectual donnybrook is, well, fun for him. "The third great thing about this job is just basically ideas. I love ideas, I love good ideas, I love the competition of ideas, I love debating ideas -- and in my mind, in what I do, it's about ideas that make life better for people."
He goes on: "What I see myself doing is engaged in a defense of the ideas that built this country. ... That is exciting to me. That's why I do what I do."
Most politicians are people driven, not idea driven. Ryan is the exception who understands that foundational ideas are, for better or for worse, powerful. They affect real people's lives. President Obama is another exception. By tapping Ryan, Mitt Romney has now shown he understands this too.
As Paul Ryan told Fox News, "We owe the country a clear choice and different solutions."
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.