Ryan was selling libertarian articles of faith: Downsize the government and the welfare state, and all will be well; the economic downturn had nothing to do with corporate shenanigans or deregulation; and if the Medicare guarantee is dumped, the elderly will fare better in the free flowing corporate marketplace. Trust in this theology, he was saying, and the nation will revive—and he was not just speaking for himself. This was now the official sales pitch of the Romney-Ryan ticket.
Hours before Ryan's speech, I asked a former George W. Bush administration official about the Ryan pick. He admitted to being baffled, even after talking to Romney aides about the choice. "They're in a mania. They think America is ready for a grand reconfiguration of its social insurance system. It's like they're in the middle of their own housing bubble, and they're talking only to themselves."
When I asked a top Republican who advises the Romney campaign—but who is not a member of its inner circle—why Romney had not yet gyrated toward the middle, he replied that the Romney campaign has become "preconditioned" to placating conservatives. "They were in that mode for a year during the primaries and can't get out of it." That, he said, explained Ryan.
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