Nothing spells fear more than irrationality.
And there is nothing safe or rational about choosing Paul Ryan as your running mate.
Historically, a vice presidential selection has little impact on the outcome of a race. But it does give you a significant window into the thinking of a campaign.
And Mitt Romney's choice of Paul Ryan says one thing: "I'm going to lose."
Over the last few months the Romney campaign has spent thousands of hours doing research, focus groups, polls, meeting with big donors on the ski slopes of Utah and vetting tax returns down to the dollar.
All of those things matter.
But the ultimate determinate of a vice presidential candidate is the fear of the presidential nominee.
The choice, in other words, shows you what Romney's greatest fear is.
In this case, Romney knows something that many pollsters have been saying for weeks: his campaign support is a mile wide and an inch deep.
Choosing Ryan shows Romney fears he is going to lose.
How did this happen?
How does someone that is successful in business and politics cave into fear when the moment matters most?
I suppose we could ask John McCain.
But the easier answer is to simply look at Romney's inability to create a positive narrative about himself.
He has inadvertently succeeded in getting his message out about being a for-something-before-against-something candidate; an "evolving" candidate.
The consummate politician.
In fact, everything he communicates about his campaign is allowing an impossible-to-shake narrative take hold -- an election ender -- that he has no core and will say or do anything to get elected.
So he chose Paul Ryan.
Like him or not, you know where Paul Ryan stands.
But the narrative about Romney is too far down the road and he knows it.
The only thing Romney had was a "game changer" - a Sarah Palin.
A losing choice.
Elections are often won and lost on narratives. Successful narratives emotionally connect with and engage people, they need characters, a plot and a solution to the problem.
Romney has none of these things.
The 2004 election was defined, and won, by the early establishment of Senator Kerry's narrative. In fact, defining Kerry's narrative helped President Bush overcome unpopular domestic and international policies -- not to mention remarkably low poll numbers.
In 2008, Obama's narrative was emotional and obvious. People were engaged and the solution was a new direction -- change.
And as the 2012 election recaps are written we can look back at when Romney lost the narrative. And we can see when he told us he had - the day he selected Paul Ryan.