Paul Greenberg
This Mitt Romney means business, in more than one sense of the word. He has just chosen the most businesslike member of Congress as his running mate. Not only is Paul Ryan a serious man, a man of ideas, but he's had the courage to put them into specific form, complete with numbers and goals, and let the American people be the judge. And invite the opposition to take its best shot.

This must be why Paul Ryan is regularly described as "controversial," which is supposed to be a criticism. As if anybody with ideas, convictions and the courage to fight for them wouldn't be controversial. Ronald Reagan was controversial, too. So was Winston Churchill, who could recognize a mounting danger when he saw one. It was Neville Chamberlain who was the safe choice, when of course his kind of "safety" was the riskiest course of all to follow.

It was only fitting that Paul Ryan's selection for the vice-presidential slot on his party's ticket should be announced aboard a battleship -- the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk harbor. The man fights for what he believes, and, at least as important, explains just how he would put those beliefs into practice. And turn this country around. Back to basic ideas -- prudence, patience, economy, constancy of purpose, faith in freedom....

Putting out clear ideas, complete with goals and numbers, is no way to court public favor. Not when cagier politicians stick with platitudes, take no chances, drift with the times. But not Paul Ryan of Janesville, Wis. A seven-term congressman, he's chairman of the House Budget Committee, which figures. He'll be the only candidate on a national ticket who's actually proposed a serious, detailed federal budget within the past three years. This president certainly hasn't, let alone passed one.

The federal government continues to operate budgetless under this president, which is clear enough from the record $15-trillion-plus national debt. Something's got to give, but all our president seems to do is give speeches, the gist of which is that it's all somebody else's fault, usually those dratted Republicans.

Paul Ryan dares talk not just sense to the American people but dollars-and-cents. As in the Ryan Plan. You may not like what you hear -- fiscal reality isn't always easy to face. You may not agree with his ideas, but there's no denying he's been up-front about them. Clear, specific, detailed. Nor is there any denying where the country is headed if current trends continue. Right over a fiscal cliff.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.