Bold choice not always smart

Published 9:10 am Tuesday, August 21, 2012

With the election slipping away like a handful of mercury on a turbocharged merry-go-round, Mitt Romney managed to change the conversation from unreleased tax returns and foreign misadventures by plucking Paul Ryan out of the Wisconsin wilds to be his running mate.

“Romney-Ryan.” Short, alliterative and one syllable more conservative than “Obama-Biden.”

The situation appeared so desperate the choice couldn’t wait until after closing ceremonies of the Olympics, forcing the House Budget Committee chairman to share the weekend spotlight with enough English pop stars to clear out the hairspray aisle at seven Boots drug stores.

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The Republican Congressman may be famous for his P90x work-out regimen, but the Spice Girls have much better legs. And they’re way older.

Ryan was universally hailed as a bold choice. Yeah, well, maybe, but bold is not always synonymous with good. Whiskey for breakfast is a bold choice. Spun glass underwear is bold. Forehead dragon tattoos. Passing an 18-wheeler on a blind curve doing 80 in the rain. Incredibly bold. Not necessarily smart.

Another white male Christian conservative. That is bold. But only when not compared to absolutely anything else.

It’s been speculated a major reason for awarding the Wisconsin congressman the prize spot at the bottom of the bumper sticker was to energize the base. And total slam-dunk there. The question is: Which base?

Republicans are shaking like a Brazilian supermodel on a Lake Superior beach shoot in January. Only happier. Haven’t seen them this excited since John McCain hooked up with some governor of Alaska.

Meanwhile, Democrats are salivating so uncontrollably, they’d be advised to invest in bibs to keep from soiling their $5,000 Man-of-the-People suits.

A coordinated attack was immediately launched to trash Ryan’s Path to Prosperity budget bill, which replaces Medicare with vouchers. Health care coupons. Why? Because old people love coupons. “I got a coupon. Only four more, we can book an anesthesiologist.”

The Romney campaign instantly counter-accused the president of gutting Medicare to the tune of $700 billion for Obamacare. So we got that to look forward to: 11 more weeks of the echoing refrain of “You’re killing Medicare,” “No, you’re killing Medicare.” Rinse and repeat. And repeat again. Continue rinsing.

Ryan, a self-professed Ayn Rand acolyte, was forced to denounce his Objectivism hero when somebody on his staff who reads discovered Ms. Rand rejected all forms of religion, which some might infer meant she did not believe in Jesus. You can love one or the other, but not both. Like with Wham!

Allegations also arose that while Ryan ladled scorn onto the stimulus bill, he wrote four letters to the Department of Energy praising programs and requesting funds for his district. Could this be a fount of flip for Mitt’s famed flop?

Ryan doesn’t do much to help with Romney’s Richie Rich problem either. Wealthy son of a Janesville, Wis. highway contractor, he amended his financial disclosure statement in March, having forgotten to include a trust fund inherited by his wife worth between $1 million and $5 million.

Then again, who among us hasn’t forgotten a multi-million dollar trust account? “Now where did I put that pesky Five Mil? Must be in my other pants pockets.”

Difficult to discern whether the GOP Boy Wonder is helping or hindering Willard’s ticket.

But if the campaign arc doesn’t start levitating real soon, he might be forced to release some tax returns just to change the conversation. Again.


Will Durst is a political comedian who has performed around the world. E-mail Will at