Romney / Ryan – First Thoughts……… And “Shirtless” UPDATES X 3.

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I just got back from a weekend camping in the high Sierras. Haven’t had a chance to digest the news that Paul Ryan was tapped as Mitt Romney’s running mate. My initial reaction is positive. I think Ryan is a strong Conservative politician. He’s smart, likable, and, so important this time around, has shown no propensity to be a loose cannon. I’m grateful Romney did not pick an uber-social conservative. Ryan’s a good Tea Party-ish candidate – focused on fiscal policy, not so much on social. Interestingly enough, that adds to my observation that the defining issues that divide Romney and Obama will be clearer than one could have predicted a year ago, as the Republican camp has ties itself to financial matters, and the Democrat ticket is reaching for a social agenda to try and eek out a victory. It will be interesting to see if the addition of Ryan can finally give Romney a sustained lead in the next few months.

UPDATE: There are some that are saying that, with the choice of Paul Ryan, the Culture War is far from a dead issue on that side of the political fence. Michelle Goldberg says this:

Less attention has been paid, though, to Ryan’s hard-right positions on social issues. Indeed, on abortion and women’s health care, there isn’t much daylight between Ryan and, say, Michele Bachmann. Any Republican vice-presidential candidate is going to be broadly anti-abortion, but Ryan goes much further. He believes ending a pregnancy should be illegal even when it results from rape or incest, or endangers a woman’s health. He was a cosponsor of the Sanctity of Human Life Act, a federal bill defining fertilized eggs as human beings, which, if passed, would criminalize some forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization. The National Right to Life Committee has scored his voting record 100 percent every year since he entered the House in 1999. “I’m as pro-life as a person gets,” he told The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack in 2010. “You’re not going to have a truce.”

I admit I also have not paid much attention to Ryan regarding the social agenda. If the Romney / Ryan team don’t get the sustained bounce they hope for, will they be forced to fall back on the social agenda? Given that no one can sway with certainty exactly what the views are of the ever malleable Romney, does Ryan solidify that aspect of the campaign?

UPDATE 2: There are a few Democrats who are not demogoging and vilifying Ryan’s budget plan.

Yes, that would be Erksine Bowles, of the Bowles / Simpson debt reduction plan. He still thinks his plan is better, as do I, but he’s not out there claiming Ryan ants to kill seniors and starve babies. That just gets so old after a while.

UPDATE # 3: Ann Althouse notes that the one thing people want to know about Paul Ryan more than anything is….

What he looks like shirtless!

Here You Go!!!!!!

OK. OK. Yes, it’s a fake! But hey. It’s closer than the other picture I was going to post!