Paul Ryan Cannot Fail. He Can Only Be Failed.

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 9 2012 4:39 PM

Paul Ryan Cannot Fail. He Can Only Be Failed.

Ezra Klein examines the latest wave of conservatives demanding Paul Ryan in the veep seat.

Ryan is Romney’s best chance to diffuse the blame if he loses this election. If Romney chooses the proverbial “incredibly boring white guy” and then goes down in November, conservatives will place the blame squarely on Romney’s shoulders: He was a flip-flopping, Massachusetts Moderate with a cautious campaign and a car elevator. The narrative, in fact, is already set. In July, the Wall Street Journal editorial page accused Romney of “slowly squandering an historic opportunity.” They would simply have to change “squandering” to “squandered.”

There are two words missing from this argument. They are "Sarah" and "Palin." Conservative base voters, and some of the movement's elites, are convinced that Sarah Palin boosted the sure-to-lose McCain campaign. The people who donated to McCain in September and October 2008 agree; political scientists disagree. But it's a truly essential article of conservative faith. This is why you see such attention paid when Palin endorses a candidate like Ted Cruz -- see, the media is wrong about what sort of conservatives can win. If a Romney-Ryan ticket loses, Sarah Palin will appear at CPAC 2013 and confirm Bill Kristol's column about how the watery, weak Romney candidacy failed Paul Ryan. As the blogger Digby puts it, "conservative cannot fail, it can only be failed."

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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