Mitt Romney will paint with bold colors, not pale pastels.
Many Democrats profess delight with his choice of a running mate. Some conservatives fret about it. But for most conservatives, the worst thing about his selection of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is that it will deprive House Republicans of their leading light.
No politician knows more about our fiscal woes than Rep. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, and no politician can explain them better. But he brings much more to the ticket than nonpareil economic expertise.
• Paul Ryan is a full spectrum conservative. His views differ little from those of Sarah Palin. But his warm, friendly, low-key style makes him harder to demonize. No politician since Ronald Reagan -- save for former Colorado Sen. Bill Armstrong -- expresses conservative principles so well, or puts such a smiling face upon them.
• A devout Catholic, Rep. Ryan is as alarmed as is the clergy about the Obama administration's assault on religious freedom. No other Republican can express their concerns better.
• At 42, Paul Ryan is the bright new face. No Republican is better poised to cut into President Barack Obama's margin among 18-29 year olds.
• All political professionals realistically hope for from a vice presidential candidate is that he'll deliver his home state. Rep. Ryan's presence on the ticket makes it more likely Mitt Romney will carry Wisconsin in November. It's difficult to construct a credible scenario for an Obama victory if he loses Wisconsin, which has gone Democrat in every election since 1984.
• No one gets under the president's skin more than Paul Ryan. Conservative websites linked all weekend to the Youtube video of Rep. Ryan's evisceration of Obamacare during a meeting at the White House in February 2010, and Mr. Obama's nonplussed reaction.
Despite Mr. Ryan's manifest and manifold virtues, the best thing about his selection is what it tells us about Mitt Romney. He is more bold, more conservative, and more far-sighted than many of us thought. He's running to save the country, not just to win the election.
By selecting Rep. Ryan, Mr. Romney signaled he plans to run on big ideas, to challenge the liberal establishment that has run our country for the last half-century, and has run it into the ground.
The contrast with a morally and intellectually bankrupt Democratic Party could not be greater. Having neither ideas nor principles, its campaign will consist of ever more hysterical, ever more egregiously false personal attacks.
We've already seen this with regard to Mr. Romney. He's a white guy. We know what that means for blacks and women. And he's really, really rich. He doesn't understand -- or care about -- the problems of middle-class people, who he plans to tax for the benefit of rich guys like himself. He won't disclose all his tax returns, so he must be hiding something. He's a felon, and a murderer, too.
Democrats and liberal journalists will attempt to "define" Paul Ryan the way they trashed Sarah Palin four years ago. He's a white guy, too. He wants to reduce spending for entitlements, so he must hate widows and orphans.
"The president's knee-breakers think they can persuade America that smiling Paul Ryan of the beautiful family and sincere devotion to first principles is actually Snidely Whiplash, come to evict grandma from Medicare," said radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt.
The smear campaign against Rep. Ryan begins at an unpropitious time for Democrats. Even liberal journalists have sharply criticized Team Obama for its vicious, utterly false ad accusing Mr. Romney of being responsible for the cancer death of the wife of a steelworker.
I don't think it will work. While Mr. Obama was winning Mr. Ryan's district, 51 percent to 47 percent, in 2008, Paul Ryan was re-elected with 65 percent of the vote. Mr. Ryan wins big in a swing district because he's so obviously smart, so obviously a nice guy, and because he so obviously cares about his constituents. Even liberal Democrats in his district like him.
Mr. Ryan's district is pretty much a microcosm of the electorate in the swing states. If I were a Democrat, I'd fret about that.
Jack Kelly is a columnist for The Press and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio. email@example.com, 412 263-1476. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/