And what a relief that is. The Ryan pick suggests we may look back on the Palin selection as an aberration, a colossal error, rather than as a sign of a political class in inevitable decline.
Ryan’s choice will also mean a more substantive debate. President Obama himself has been known to praise Ryan for his seriousness and focus on policy. And while there is a lack of specificity on several points in Ryan’s cost-cutting budget plan, it is far superior to any document the Democratic-led Senate has put forward (hint – they haven’t even passed a budget proposal). The country could now see a more open and honest debate on Medicare financing and general fiscal policy than it has in many years.
Ryan is so anti-Palin that there’s already been a lively debate over his philosophical influences. With Palin, the question was whether she read books. With Ryan, the question is which. And thus his selection opens up a surprising new avenue of attack for the Democrats in a presidential election: the philosophy of über capitalist and advocate of extreme selfishness, Ayn Rand.