Paul Ryan has energized the Romney ticket in a way that the milquetoasty Romney could never have accomplished. Ryan is charismatic, well-spoken, and has specific(if a bit frightening) plans to put forth. He's the strength of the party, a far-right favorite and visionary of a budget hawky future that could be.
It's a flip-flopped ticket, with the flash AND substance at the bottom and the mediocre political power at the top.
So the question this election isn't 'one heartbeat away'; it isn't whether we want Ryan as president should the unthinkable happen. The question is reversed: do we want Romney as president, assuming he serves the entire term? Do we want the leader of the free world to be reliant on his second in command for leadership, charisma, vision, everything we expect from a president, while he cracks dumb jokes?
It should be noted that while I am a liberal, I LIKE Romney. He tries really hard to be like regular people. He tells REALLY dumb jokes, and my midwestern heritage admires and respects that. My own family has a long, storied tradition of stupid jokes(even racist ones, as recent as my grandfather, much more direct than Romney's oblique "who let the dogs out" cry as he posed for pictures with African Americans). So I like that. I like Romney. He's the right height, like the trees in Michigan. We tend to differ past those points, but it's worth mentioning.
Given the BOOM-KAPOW announcement of Ryan to the ticket, I can't be the only one thinking that I would love to see Biden go at Romney in the debates, and leave the two real visionaries - Obama and Ryan - to debate the issues of the day.
But then again, we're talking about a president who has the personal charm of Clinton, who makes the right apoplectic enough that they can't gather their wits enough to put forward anyone stronger than Mitt Romney. With a field previously consisting of Southern flavor Rick Perry, political veteran and DC resident Newt Gingrich, ridiculous business entry Hermann Cain, 'the other right' Ron Paul and some smart, articulate moderate guy with great ideas, the guy that makes it through that gauntlet is Mitt Romney? A Mormon, very interesting. That's new and unexpected, especially from Republicans.
Can you imagine if there were a Republican President and the Democrats put forth a Mormon? That would be hilarious. Of course, it's about as likely met going to a remote planet in special underwear when I die, but you know, I don't really know what's going to happen after I die, so I COULD BE WRONG.
Mitt Romney made the ticket? 'I'll answer that with the answer you want to hear' Mitt Romney? 'It's NOT like Obamacare, it's NOT' Mitt Romney?'
So we have debates to look forward to. The Biden-Ryan debate will be interesting. Biden's ability to inject folksy humor might frustrate Ryan if he tries to hit him hard, or Biden might get flustered in a 'You can't handle the truth!' moment. Ryan, in a deft argumentative move Socrates would be proud of, might get Biden to say something stupid. Actually, that's likely. Joe says a lot of stupid things without prompting, but he's rather teflon about it. His gaffes don't tend to stick long. BORING.
A Biden-Romney debate, however, has hilarious potential. Romney has the propensity to play to the level of his competition, and Ol Joe might play the 'don't say much' game just to accentuate that moment. The result would be a couple of highly educated aged politicians saying nothing for an hour. Global warming might be a problem with the hot gases escaping, but political science students would study the debate for years in an attempt to unravel classic political doublespeak. It could become a graduate course on "How to beat your opponent without saying anything of significance."
The real deal, the scripted debate, will be Obama-Romney. The Obama-Romney face-off will likely be a humdrum affair, with Romney sputtering about Obama's failed economic policies and Obama pointing to Romney's greedy capitalism and changing stances. The professor attacks, and the Romulan fires back with heavy lasers that look important but don't really do damage.
An Obama-Ryan debate would be a night of rhetorical fireworks. Ryan would be an excellent and articulate opponent, not only able to criticize Obama's specific policies, but also able to put forth his own plan to fix the problems. For his part, Obama's ability to speak to the big picture would help him to counter Ryan and explain his policies. It would be a night of powerhouses, and up-and-coming party visionary in Ryan against the now-veteran Obama, vision for vision, Right v. Left, Spend v. Save, Government v. Business, in a no-holds-barred mano-a-mano, policy-a-policy debate with the winner deciding the future of the country.
In short, an Obama-Ryan debate would be like a Transformers movie, without strange references to what teen boys do to themselves behind doors, or that cute girl that's been in the movies either. Or the robots. Otherwise, pretty much like the Transformers movie, which is obviously good for America.
Bring on the debates! Obama-Ryan puhleeeeez
*Update: Rage Against the Machine Guitarist Tom Morello responds in Rolling Stone to Ryan's comments about liking their music. Of course, not the lyrics, just the music. I understand this completely. For instance, I like Chick-Fil-A, but not the food. Or the gay bashing. Just the actual booths and restaurants themselves. Let this be a warning to future Republicans: if you are a champion of the 1% in your "radical right-wing budget plan", liking a band that rails against that 1% as their raison d'etre may have pitfalls. It's kinda surreal, actually. It's like Facebook Ghandi "liking" Sun Tzu. It's like mice liking cats. It's like the Donald Trump liking trailer parks. Or baldness. I think the fancypants scholars call that "anathema", and "cognitive dissonance".