Leave it to Willard Romney, international man of principle, to get himself bullied into being bold and independent.
Make no mistake. In his decision to make Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny-starver from Wisconsin, his running mate, Romney finally surrendered the tattered remnants of his soul not only to the extreme base of his party, but also to extremist economic policies, and to an extremist view of the country he seeks to lead. This is unimaginable to those of us who lived here under Romney’s barely perceptible stewardship of the Commonwealth (God save it!). If he’d even hinted that he agreed with a fraction of a smidgen of a portion of the policies on which Ryan has built his career, Romney would have been hanging from the Sacred Cod by the middle of 2005. And it’s hard not to notice that the way the decision got leaked — in the dead of a Friday night, with the Olympics still going on, after two weeks in which Romney and his campaign had demonstrated all the political skills of a handball — fairly dripped with flopsweat.
Paul Ryan is an authentically dangerous zealot. He does not want to reform entitlements. He wants to eliminate them. He wants to eliminate them because he doesn’t believe they are a legitimate function of government. He is a smiling, aw-shucks murderer of opportunity, a creator of dystopias in which he never will have to live. This now is an argument not over what kind of political commonwealth we will have, but rather whether or not we will have one at all, because Paul Ryan does not believe in the most primary institution of that commonwealth: our government.