As I said last time, Mitt Romney, in trying to avoid picking a Sarah Palin as his running mate, has done exactly that with Paul Ryan.
Like Palin did for John McCain, Ryan represents a transparent plea for credibility with the Republican base. And while Ryan is obviously nowhere near as ignorant as Palin, he holds similarly extreme views, inspired by Ayn Rand, no less. In both cases, the choice smells strongly of panic.
But even as Romney was announcing his delight in having Ryan at his side, he was throwing him under the bus. Ryan's main appeal to the base is, of course, his commitment to radical budget-cutting. But in virtually the same breath Romney used to announce his choice of Ryan, what did he disavow? Ryan's budget plan.
Per the AP:
In Paul Ryan's high-energy debut as Republican vice presidential candidate, Mitt Romney made one thing clear: His ideas rule, not his running mate's. "I have my budget plan," he said, "And that's the budget plan we're going to run on."
This is the same plan that Romney described as "marvelous" while pandering to base voters during the primary. Recognizing that it's toxic with the mainstream (for its slashing of Medicare if nothing else), he now needs to Etch-A-Sketch away his previous enthusiasm.
So at exactly the same time he tries to woo the base by choosing Ryan, Romney announces to them that he's just as insincere as they always suspected.
They're probably going to notice. Of all the emotions driving the Tea Party, one of the most intense is their fury at realizing that Republican leaders have been pandering to and then betraying them for decades.
They're probably also going to notice Romney's eagerness to renounce their hero, Sarah Palin.
Palin will decidedly not be appearing at the upcoming Republican convention. And as Buzzfeed has reported, the moment Ryan-Palin comparisons started to be made, Romney aides rushed to contrast Ryan's qualifications with Palin's lack of same:
Another senior adviser, commenting on the comparison in an e-mail to BuzzFeed, was more sarcastic: "The number one policy wonk in the country... Sarah Palin...?"
So there you have it -- another way Ryan is similar to Palin. Both are icons of the Republican base, and both are wearing the tire treads of the "America's Comeback" bus tour.