Paul Ryan v. Sarah Palin: Is Romney's V.P. Choice Like McCain's?

What Women Really Think
Aug. 11 2012 10:36 AM

Paul Ryan v. Sarah Palin

150148457
NORFOLK, VA - AUGUST 11: Mitt Romney (L) jokes with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (R) after announcing him as the "next PRESIDENT of the United States" this morning. Oops.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Four years ago, when John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate, it was electrifying and flabbergasting. Who is she? And Wow, she sure is better on TV and hotter than he is, are the  reactions I remember having. The adjectives of choice were bold and nuts, previewing a long debate about whether the choice was brilliant or suicidal.


As John Dickerson points out, Mitt Romney's choice of Paul Ryan is  an "injection" with the power to re-launch the Romney brand. John argues that unlike Palin, Ryan for V.P. "is a re-branding that is mostly consistent with Romney's general approach." (Except for that bit about how he was dead set on choosing someone with executive experience.) I guess so, in the sense that Romney has already endorsed Ryan's roadmap and his budget plan. But elevating Ryan to V.P. of course puts his slash away ideas about government at the campaign's very center. The reason it's a counterintuitive choice is that it forces Romney into the specifics he's been eager to avoid, because specifics are painful. Even when delivered by a cute young thing with bright blue eyes. (Have I mentioned that David Plotz constantly tells me that Paul Ryan bears a resemblance to my husband?) He sure is boyish.

Advertisement

Of course, Ryan's deep grip of the specifics is not at all Palin-like. No one will be worrying about whether he knows how far away Russia is, even though he has no foreign policy experience, or can handling the prep for his debate with Joe Biden. Come to think of it, odds are that he will ice Biden, right? Say what you will about Palin as a candidate, though, she did launch the Mama Grizzly alternative to feminism that brought women flocking to the Tea Party. It mattered for women that John McCain chose a woman. In this election, Obama has an edge with women (especially single women) who tipped to the GOP for the first time in the Congressional elections of 2010. This week on a college campus in Denver, Obama was introduced by Sandra Fluke, famously smeared by Rush Limbaugh for demanding contraception coverage. The president accused the Republicans of trying to take women's healthcare back to the 1950s. In my inbox this morning is a four-star endorsement of Paul Ryan from Charmaine Yoest, head of Americans United for Life, and an increasingly important leader of the anti-abortion movement. Yoest hails him as "an unambiguous defender of the need for a pro-life vision for America." So on reproductive rights as well as the budget and taxes, does Ryan supply the vision where Romney lacks it?

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

The First Case of Ebola in America Has Been Diagnosed in Dallas

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Mad About Modi


Why the controversial Indian prime minister drew 19,000 cheering fans to Madison Square Garden.


Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Don’t Panic! The U.S. Already Stops Ebola and Similar Diseases From Spreading. Here’s How.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 6:59 PM The Democrats’ War at Home Can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 6:44 PM Ebola Was Already Here How the United States contains deadly hemorrhagic fevers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.