...from the outset, he conducted himself in an irresponsible fashion that is highly unpresidential...With regard to domestic affairs, he seems not to have recognized that, under our Constitution, it is the President of the United States who represents the national interest; that Congressmen more often than not cater to particular interests; that, if legislation is left to the latter, principle tends to give way to patronage; and that the result can be a profound embarrassment. And so he stood idly by while Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the like drafted legislation – a so-called “stimulus bill” and healthcare reform, each more than a thousand pages in length, each embodying a multitude of corrupt bargains, each threatening to bankrupt the country. And, like a political hack, faithful to his party to the bitter end, he promoted and signed their handiwork...He forgot that, in the larger world, the President represents his country. Out of personal pique, he persistently insulted our friends abroad, displaying disdain for Gordon Brown, stiffing Nicholas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, treating Benyamin Netanyahu with open contempt, and turning his back on the people of Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Iran. At the same time, he embraced Hugo Chavez, sucked up to Vladimir Putin, and kowtowed to the rulers of Saudi Arabia and China – all to no avail.He then iterates the good and bad points of Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, and Mitch Daniels all of whom have the requisite exective experience and who have had to take responsiblity for their states and attempt to clean up the mess that has been handed to them. But most of all, our next president must have principles as well as the ability to make hard decisions, but also to follow through with those decisions. That's something the current incumbent just doesn't have.
The current President, as I argued in detail in the piece linked above, perfectly exemplifies what it means to lack executive temperament. He is a man who is most happy when he can vote present. He outsourced the framing of major legislation to Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the like, and we got bills thousands of pages in length that no one voting on them understood. With regard to Iran, Afghanistan, and Libyan, he dithered and dithered and resorted to half-measures, and in each case we find ourselves mired in a mess. And he is still whining that the state of today’s economy is the responsibility of George W. Bush. Can you imagine Jindal, Christie, Daniels, or Pawlenty leaving matters of this sort to Congress and always looking for an easy out? Can you imagine Haley Barbour, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Nikki Haley, or John Kasich doing the like? I can’t. Their instinct is to take charge, and they relish the opportunity.His answer to the above? Congressman Paul Ryan.
Paul Ryan is a young man – forty-one years in age. He attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and did a B. A. in economics and political science. After working in various congressional offices and writing speeches for Bill Bennett and Jack Kemp, he was elected to Congress from Wisconsin in 1998. He has never held executive office, served as a general, or led a corporation – which ought to give one pause. But he has done something else strongly suggesting (but not proving) executive capacity, and in this particular he reminds me of Lincoln.I have been an admirer of Paul Ryan since he published his "Road Map For America." I took the time to read the whole thing. It's long, a whole 93 pages...well, not that long, but it's the first genuine attempt by anyone from either party to tackle the huge problems that we as a nation face. He seems to be the only politician on the national stage who has any plan at all. Mr. Obama certainly doesn't seem to have a coherent plan, nor do any of the other possible contenders.
Lincoln was propelled from obscurity to fame by the Lincoln-Douglas debates. In running for the Senate in Illinois in 1858 – in a situation in which victory would accrue to the candidate whose party won the state house and senate – Lincoln conducted himself in the manner of an executive, and his party won a majority of the votes cast in the pertinent races but failed to gain a majority of seats in the two houses because of gerrymandering. In his debates with a renowned sitting Senator likely to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 1860, Lincoln took firm, principled stands, and he articulated with great eloquence the case for his views. In the process, he forced Douglas to clarify his own views on the question of slavery in the territories in such a fashion as to make him unacceptable to the hardliners increasingly dominant in the South. The debates were printed in the press and reissued in pamphlet form thereafter. By bearding the little giant, Lincoln made of himself a national figure.
Ryan has done something similar. From his perch as Chairman of the Budget Committee in the House of Representatives, he has laid out a budget that serves as a challenge to the administrative state and that promises to move us back in the direction of fiscal sobriety. He has done this; he has repeatedly confronted the President in debates less formal and less dramatic than the Lincoln-Douglas debates but no less decisive in shaping public opinion, and he has won. For more than a year, he has been our standard-bearer, and it is his firmness and resolve in articulating what it in practice means to sustain a limited government that has thus far carried the day. Moreover, in shaping his proposed budget, he has managed in a statesmanlike fashion to get his fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives on board. He has not dodged responsibility; he has seized it. He is the man of the hour.
Perhaps, it's time for the GOP to look outside the usual suspects and take a long hard look at Mr. Ryan...