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Ryan as VP: A Black Swan Event
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The big news over the weekend, other than the record US metal count at the London Olympics, was Mitt Romney’s choice of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan to be his Vice Presidential running mate. And it is big news, because it means that the economy will remain front and center of the presidential campaign.
The Ryan pick for VP gives the ticket economic and politically philosophical gravitas that goes way beyond Romney’s business successes. Ryan is politically purer than Romney, and provides some economic and political heft and distinction that Romney didn’t have before. At the same time, Ryan’s addition to the ticket gives the Obama White House plenty of economic targets at which to fire all its guns.
And let’s not kid ourselves; this election will be all about the economy…or rather, two visions of the economy.
Two economic visions
On the one hand, Obama’s vision is all about “saving” the economy the old fascist way, by taking it over to an extent never known before. Why does he keep trying to sell America warmed-over failed socialist policies that we don't want? Because that’s what wannabe dictators who say that they “will go it alone” when Congress tries to stop them, do. But the follow up to that is, to quote the president “and were moving in the right direction.” What he means to say to us is that despite growing unemployment, rising deficits, an ungodly level of debt and his recent threat to save, i.e. nationalize even more industries, that indeed, the economy is getting better.
That is, of course, a very tough sell to those Americans not on welfare. It is akin to the man whose wife finds him cheating on her with another woman, denying it, telling his wife, “who you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” Or, closer to home, telling American small business owners that, “you didn’t build that, someone else did.” A very tough sell indeed.
But, Obama is the leader of the philosophy of the grand state; he is and always has been a statist and a globalist. He is not a deep thinker; all that--as well as the many details of his byzantine life—have been taken care of for him by others behind the scenes. Joe Biden, his vice president, however, is nothing more than carry on luggage—and just as sentient—as has been stowed safely away in the designated space beneath the seats on Air Force 2. His only two purposes are to make Obama look smarter than him—a task at which he is eminently suited--and to corner the white working class union male vote.
On the other hand, the Romney/Ryan ticket has to sell Americans on the idea that not only are they the ones to get the economy working again, but more to the point, that they will get Americans working again. By that I mean not just corporate America, which now makes more abroad that it does at home anyway, but Americans.
To state the obvious, Mitt Romney is the empirical capitalist. He has the corporate America look, feel, and smell to him; and so far, has been unsuccessful in washing it off. And really, how can he? Romney is corporate America.
But that shouldn’t be a stigma, per se; we need someone in the White House who understands—and appreciates—capitalism and we certainly don’t have that now. But politically, Ryan brings to the Romney campaign something that Romney himself has priced himself out of the market by his own success. That something is everyday American authenticity.
That is not to say that Romney is not who he projects himself to be. He is exactly who he is—a very successful businessman. But Ryan is unmistakably middle class America, even if he is financially comfortable. More than anything else, Ryan’s personality and style exudes the humble, straight–talking, can-do attitude of most Americans. And, to his great credit, he brings an economic intelligence, a firm grasp of the facts, and the political experience to back it up. To put it in the language of event theorists, Ryan is the Black Swan Event that may well be fatal to the Obama economic agenda.
Ryan as Black Swan
What’s a Black Swan Event?
A “Black Swan Event” is generally described as a seemingly benign or random event that has a much greater-than-anticipated effect or unpredictable or unlikely impact on the economy or society. Perhaps it’s not entirely fair to label Ryan as such; he certainly hasn’t hidden his economic point of view. On the contrary, he has built his political reputation on financial reform of the welfare state and fiscal conservatism. His televised, six-minute dismantling of Obamacare before Obama himself is the stuff that great leaders are made of.
And of course, Romney’s selection of Ryan does not itself qualify as a random event, either. But the impact that Ryan will have on the race, and given a successful election outcome, on the direction of the country, will be huge. Ryan’s understanding of the finer points of government budgetry as well as his insights into the philosophical foundations of America are much deeper than Romney’s. In fact, they are a part of Ryan’s identity as an individual; not just as a congressman or vice presidential candidate.
The reality is that the Obama attack dogs fully realize that Ryan, not Romney, is the real threat to their agenda and their credibility. Unlike Romney, Ryan doesn’t have to separate himself from his past, or try to redefine himself from it; Ryan’s past is precisely why he is where he is. And unlike Obama, Ryan doesn’t have to consult a teleprompter to speak to Americans in elliptical terms and euphemisms.
To Ryan’s great credit and Obama’s greater misfortune, Ryan speaks to Americans easily and clearly because he is one, through and through. Most Americans will recognize that; certainly most of those in Ryan’s district did. They reelected him by a large majority even though they also voted for Obama. The president’s team rightfully fears what Ryan is: a true believer in the America that was, and the one that might just be again. Their job is to prevent the rest of America from realizing who Paul Ryan really is.
However, if America does see through the smoke and recognize Ryan for whom and what he truly is, Romney will be elected. It may be some time later than that before his choice of Ryan for VP will be looked back upon as a key, yet unlikely event in a process that began the resurrection of a free and prosperous America.
And those are…The Gorrie Details.