The selection of Rep. Paul Ryan to be Gov. Mitt Romney's running mate was an excellent choice.
Nevertheless, the press corps happily bought into the Obama campaign's early response that, as the Washington Post's Dan Balz wrote:
"There was no one on Romney's short list of contenders they wanted to run against more than the chairman of the House Budget Committee."
The great thing about that statement is: It would have worked no matter whom Romney had picked. In this age of everything anyone has ever said or even thought about anything being available instantaneously on-line, there is no such thing as a candidate that can't be savaged in a 30 second ad by one SuperPAC or another.
The other alleged short-listers: Senators Rob Portman and Marco Rubio, former Governor Tim Pawlenty; and current governors Bob McDonnell (VA) and Chris Christy (NJ) are able and capable men but even I could mount a pretty complete opposition research campaign against any one of them. And I like them.
The Ryan pick will - or should - change the tone of this campaign. For the past month the Obama and Romney campaigns have sounded like two teams trash talking over the fourth-grade tetherball championships in a schoolyard. The most nuanced discussions have rarely risen to the level of "nanny-nanny-boo-boo."
On Friday night I wrote, in a column for the Daily Beast:
Ryan is a darling of the Tea Party because of his budget proposal, which, like the Affordable Care Act, has been talked about far more often than it has been actually read by the people who are doing the talking.
On Saturday, in another Daily Beast column, I more-or-less plagiarized myself by writing:
Ryan is one of the very few people in America who have actually read the Ryan budget, and therefore, has the upper hand in any questions about what is in it.
If you want to read it, there's a link on the Secret Decoder Ring page today.
On Saturday night Beth Meyers described to reporters the process by which Ryan was chosen and the cloak-and-dagger activity that got him and his family to Virginia for the announcement. This, in press-speak, is known as a tick-tock (as in the sound of a clock) taking the reader through the process in a linear fashion.
There was a scene where Ryan snuck out the back door of his house in Wisconsin, walked through the woods behind his house to a street where he was picked up in a car driven by his Congressional chief of staff, got on a plane wearing a baseball cap and shades and the process moved on.
This isn't new. Four years ago, here's how ABC News described the day the Obama campaign announced (at 3 AM) Sen. Joe Biden to be Sen. Barack Obama's running mate:
"Media reports in the hours before the official announcement strongly hinted at the Obama pick: A private plane was tracked flying from Chicago's Midway airport to New Castle, Del., and the Secret Service had been dispatched to protect Biden, the six-term senator."
In a terrific round-up of prior VP announcements, the National Journal's George Condon writes that Bill Clinton
"Was determined to avoid leaks. So for the final interviews, [Sen Al] Gore, Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana, and Sen. Harris Wofford of Pennsylvania were snuck through the loading dock of the Capital Hilton Hotel to a suite booked under an aide's wife's name to talk with Clinton."
Both George H.W. Bush (Dan Quayle) and George W. (Dick Cheney) went with their guts in picking their running mates. In New Orleans, so few people knew that Sen. Quayle was going to be the running mate that he had trouble getting through the crowd gathered to see Bush along the Mississippi River shoreline so he could be introduced.
Both father and son won those elections, you might remember.
So, the teams have been set and, as Henry V said in Act III Scene 1 of the Shakespeare play by the same name, "The game's afoot."
Henry's speech opens with another famous saying; also apropos:
"Once more into the breach, dear friends. Once more."
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: TONS of links today. My two Daily Beast columns; the AP Tick-tock; the House Budget Committee site; George Condon's Nat Journal look back; the Henry V speech, and to the first time Sherlock Holmes says "the game's afoot.
Also a license plate Mullfoto that I actually had to think about for a while, and a topic-appropriate Catchy Caption of the Day.