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Ryan And Daniels For President?

Some thoughts on two of my favorite Republicans,

1.  I'm late getting to it, but I've read some commentary about a potential Paul Ryan run for President.  I admire Paul Ryan (not to say I agree with every detail of his every policy proposal), but I don't think he would make for the best Republican presidential candidate.  As regular commenter Art Deco pointed out in the threads, Ryan's has little experience of either executive responsibility or the private sector.  He is primarily a congressional aid turned member of Congress.  This kind of experience is a substantive weakness, but it is also a political weakness.  The obvious retort is that Obama had no experience as a political executive (along with a thin legislative record) and he was elected President.  That is true, but circumstances differ.  As a social democratic-leaning politician running in an unambiguously favorable  environment, his lack of a record was actually a strength.  He had never raised taxes as a governor or voted for middle-class tax increases and large defense cuts as a Senator.  His lack of a record allowed him to promise everything to everybody without anyone able to point to an Obama record that contradicted his promises.  To think of a similar situation, imagine if the Republicans were running against a President Obama with his job approval ratings in the low 30s and the Republican platform was huge tax cuts for everybody + a balanced budget and all to be financed from the savings that would come from tort reform.

The Republicans in general, and Ryan in particular, are in almost the opposite situation.  They aren't offering easy and cheap answers (well, other than Donald Trump.)  They are proposing large spending cuts and major health policy reforms.  Ryan is an excellent spokesman for those policies.  He is informed, articulate and unflappable and doing a great job of spreading the word.  The problem is that Ryan doesn't have much record implementing similar policies as an executive.  Ryan's policies sound like a good idea when Ryan explains them, but they are ideas.  Without an executive record, it is easier to paint Ryan the presidential candidate as a well meaning but ideologically intoxicated dreamer trying to peddle a bunch of think tank fantasies that will never work in the real world.  Also the implications of the tax policies in his Roadmap would, by itself, be huge and possibly fatal weakness in an otherwise close presidential election.  If anybody has a convincing rebuttal to the study in the link I would love to see it.

2.  Which brings us to Mitch Daniels.  His record as governor would put him in a stronger position to run on Ryan-type reforms.  Daniels has cut spending while maintaining or even improving public services.  He has instituted consumer-driven health care reforms that have saved the government money, increased workers' disposable income and maintained access to high quality health care.  A record can make for a pretty good rebuttal.

Erin McPike thinks that Daniels has played the media beautifully so far.  Maybe.  He has gotten favorable profiles from National Review and the Weekly Standard.  He gets favorable mentions from those portions of the liberal-leaning media that are not explicitly partisan.  But those aren't the whole media.  In the Republican presidential primaries, the populist conservative media is more important than National Review or the New York Times.  But candidate quality is more important than the support of (or even opposition from) the populist conservative media.  McCain got nominated despite sharp criticism from Limbaugh and National Review's support of Romney.  Daniels is a much better ideological fit for the Republican primaries than was McCain.  He has a better record as governor than Romney.  I doubt he will win over everyone in the populist conservative media, but I could see him doing just fine on Hannity and Ingraham.   

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Discussions - 3 Comments

Daniels sounds great on fiscal/economic issues, but, from what little I've read, he gives off bad vibes on foreign policy. I am not one of those looking to restart the previous administration's absurd efforts to promote "democracy" in godforsaken hellholes, but I do think the United States should reserve its sovereign right to determine what kind of foreign policy its national interests and principles demand, as opposed to making itself the servant of whatever half-baked and/or malignant views prevail in the so-called "international community." Do you have any read on Daniels' foreign policy inclinations?

Also, however good the man is in terms of substance and experience, doesn't he have to come across as a president? Having watched Daniels on C-Span, I have to say I can't conceive of him defeating the unpleasant person currently occupying the office.

djf, if Daniels comes out in favor of the US "making itself the servant of whatever half-baked and/or malignant views prevail in the so-called "international community."" I promise to revise my opinion. My read is that he would be somewhat cautious on foreign intervention but in favor of maintaining our collective security arrangements. I want to hear more detail from his on this issue. If he runs for President, I figure he will fill in those blanks.

He seems to have done fine running for office under very difficult circumstances (running as a conservative, Republican, ex- Bush administration official in 2008.) He doesn't have very important hair, but the voters he has tried to win over seem to like him. There are multiple ways of crafting a compelling public image and the contrasts between Obama and Daniels might even work to Daniels's favor.

I am not one of those looking to restart the previous administration's absurd efforts to promote "democracy" in godforsaken hellholes

Where were the Administration's efforts expended other than Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Pakistan? Two were countries we were occupying for reasons of state, a third has a lengthy (though long disrupted) history of parliamentary government, and a fourth has a long history of alternation between military government and elected administrations. I cannot see how another turn of the wheel in Pakistan is indicative of Mr. Bush's fatuity; nor can I see how working to buffalo the gangster regime in Syria into removing its troops from Lebanon is indicative of that either. In Afghanistan and Iraq, you have to have someone to whom you hand off the government of the territory. In Afghanistan, you had an old king and a residual administration which had been in charge prior to 1996, so you might have had an alternative to an electoral solution. Daniel Pipes suggested that in Iraq we appoint a dictator and leave (his candidate was Ayad Allawi), but that was a feckless counsel without details of implementation offered.

Re hellholes: nearly all of Latin America, the Caribbean, the Antipodes, and South Asia have some sort of competitive electoral institutions in place. So do about half the states of the peripheral Far East and 2/3 of those of tropical and southern Africa. It is really not so odd in this world at this time.

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