Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his running mate on Saturday energized the Republican base, but it also elicited an unusual amount of glee from prominent Democrats, many of whom believe he’s the ideal candidate for President Barack Obama to run against.
“Paul Ryan is the one VP pick who can unite liberal and conservative America,” MSNBC host Rachel Maddow wrote on Twitter, adding her comment to the category “#CouponsCouponsCoupons,” a sly reference to Ryan’s proposal to privatize Medicare and convert it to a coupon program that offers discounts on private health insurance policies.
On that very subject, Washington Post columnist and occasional Maddow fill-in host Ezra Klein added: “Mitt Romney, announcing Paul Ryan as his VP, attacks Obama for cutting Medicare by $700 billion. Just wow.”
The president’s spokespeople didn’t waste any time hitting that same point, arguing that Ryan will enact “budget-busting tax cuts” for the rich and hurt the middle class. That that effect, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told The Associated Press that Ryan “would end Medicare as we know it.”
Ryan’s selection also plays into the Democrats’ “war on women” rhetoric because of his support for policies that undermine women’s access to reproductive health programs like Planned Parenthood. “Mitt Romney’s choice of Rep. Ryan as his running mate reminds us of why elections matter when it comes to our ability to make personal and private medical decisions,” NARAL president Nancy Keenan said in a media advisory.
“The outcome of the 2012 presidential election very well could determine whether abortion remains legal and accessible for the next generation of American women,” she added. “Romney has pledged that taking away women’s rights will be a priority for him and his choice of Ryan amplifies that promise to the extreme anti-choice backers of this ticket. My organization’s priority is to make sure President Obama remains in the White House.”
“Paul Ryan: takes big $ from Koch bros, shovels big $ to the oil industry,” environmentalist Bill McKibben wrote, calling Ryan “another corrupt hack.” In a second post he referenced Ryan’s love for the writings of Ayn Rand. “Fun guy, Paul Ryan: ‘I gave out Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it.'”
Seconding that, Think Progress’s “12 Things You Should Know About Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan” list mentioned Ryan’s attachment to the writings of Rand and his vote to keep over $40 billion in government subsidies for big oil companies.
“Rand described altruism as ‘evil,’ condemned Christianity for advocating compassion for the poor, viewed the feminist movement as ‘phony,’ and called Arabs ‘almost totally primitive savages,'” Igor Volsky wrote. “Though he publicly rejected ‘her philosophy’ in 2012, Ryan had professed himself a strong devotee.”
“Paul Ryan?” liberal documentarian Michael Moore exclaimed. “I guess they plan on winning. It’s all about who is able 2 get more ppl 2 the polls. Ignorance fear & hate r great motivators.” He added: “Channeling Bush, war supporters/military dodgers Romney & Ryan insult those who served by using battleship as their prop.”
Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), published a document examining the positions of potential Romney running mates, and ultimately said that Ryan holds “anti-civil liberties positions.”
In the milling aftermath of Romney’s announcement, politics magazine The New Republic summed it all up by exclaiming: “The Ryan Veep pick is a fantastic stroke of luck for President Obama.”
Photo: Flickr user Gage Skidmore, creative commons licensed.