Mona Charen

He is, additionally, the most knowledgeable and articulate antagonist to Obamacare in the party -- one who has reduced the president to sputtering incoherence in a direct confrontation. In February 2010, during the health care debate, Ryan was among the Republican leaders who met with the president and Democratic leadership. In a six-minute presentation, Ryan eviscerated and embalmed Obamacare. The statistics rolled off his tongue with easy fluidity. He was direct and unflinching without being rude or needlessly aggressive. If that was a foreshadowing of what a presidential debate would look like, President Obama would be profoundly overmatched on this most critical issue.

Some worry that if Rep. Ryan were the Republican Party's standard-bearer, Republicans would then own his "unpopular" proposals for entitlement reform. This suggests that Republicans should nominate someone who is less than forthright on this critical issue for the nation's future. What's the point? There is only one path to entitlement reform and that's with an electoral mandate. You don't get a mandate if you run away from the issue.

Sure, an inexperienced Republican was defeated in a special House race in New York partly in response to the Ryan budget. But when Ryan himself explained his budget proposals at town hall meetings, he was generally well received.

Others object that electing a legislator without executive experience proved disastrous in the case of Barack Obama. But while executive experience is nice, it isn't everything. Abraham Lincoln lacked it. The chief trouble with Obama is what he believes, not that he has never been a governor. Besides, unlike Obama, Ryan has vaulted to leadership in the House over more senior legislators exactly because his mastery of policy is so widely acknowledged. On the hill, members of Congress are known as either workhorses or show horses. They are almost never both. Ryan is.

Finally, there is another reason that Ryan would be a formidable nominee -- he is likeable. Likeability is an important trait in any politician, of course, but it's particularly crucial for conservative Republicans, who will be reliably demonized by the Democrat-leaning press. If Ryan is the nominee, they will call him cruel, they will say he's an extremist and so on. But then voters will see his open expression, his calm demeanor, his reassuring intelligence and his altar boy smile, and say, "Nah, he's a good guy."


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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