Saturday, August 25, 2012

Buenos Aires: Ryan as the new Palin


Why Ryan is the new Palin

By: Patricio Navia

After the traumatic experience with the choice of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice-presidential candidate in 2008, Mitt Romney wanted to appoint a running mate who would not embarrass his campaign as Palin embarrassed John McCain. Though Paul Ryan is a much more experienced, able and better prepared politician than Palin, their nominations share one negative externality for their respective running-mates. Ryan has become the central figure in the Republican camp just as Palin eclipsed McCain.

Vice-presidents occupy one of the best known and least influential positions in American politics. They are just one heartbeat away from the most powerful job in the world. Yet, they only sit on the bench when the president is alive. Vice-presidential candidates are usually chosen to send a signal to the electorate. The presidential candidate wants to show that he/she is prepared to strengthen his weak points and bring needed experience or youth to the campaign. They also court geographic and strategic voting blocs when choosing a running-mate. Yet, because gains are marginal, the fact that a bad VP choice can do so much harm induces candidates to pick a running-mate seeking to minimize costs rather than optimize benefits.

In 2008, John McCain took too long in choosing a running-mate. He ended up choosing a VP candidate without going through the proper vetting process. Initially, a young, telegenic and energetic Palin was received as a positive complement for the 72-year old presidential candidate. But her inexperience and unpreparedness ended up embarrassing the campaign and raising questions about McCain’s own judgment. Sarah Palin became the centre of attention in the Republican race. Her inexperience in national affairs, unfamiliarity with international affairs, lack of knowledge on policy issues and excessive intellectual simplicity ended up hurting her own reputation and she became a liability to McCain’s campaign.

The choice of Paul Ryan as VP candidate will not have the same negative effects on Romney’s campaign. Ryan is better prepared, certainly more intelligent and more politically savvy than Palin. He is a well-known and respected leader in the Republican Party. He is intelligent, well-read and very articulate to defend his points and advance his agenda. He will not embarrass the party in the same way Palin did.

Read it at the Buenos Aires Herald:

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