Sunday, July 29, 2012

Veepstakes


With Mitt Romney throwing up all over his shoes in England and Israel, insulting entire countries, leaking details of meetings with secret agent men and canceling meeting with opposition leaders, don't be surprised if this time next week you're hearing about his new running mate.  The timing would be fortuitous - next Friday brings the latest round of employment data, which, if good, would be trumped by a VP announcement and, if bad, would allow Romney to amplify his "the economy sucks, elect me" message by giving the American people their first images of him and his Vice President to-be. So, who will Mitt pick?  Noted blogger Chris Cillizza (http://scarylawyerguy.blogspot.com/2012/06/dont-blame-chris-cillizza-he-just.html) identified six contenders, let's take a look:

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell: Being nicknamed "Transvaginal Ultrasound Guy" may get you votes in the Tidewater region of Virginia, but good luck trying to sell your brand of reactionary right-wing social policy that includes a graduate school thesis on the evils of homosexuality and an Executive Order honoring "Confederate History Month." Plus, your economy is propped up by a torrent of government dollars that flow into Northern Virginia. This stuff won't play with upper middle class, socially liberal white people in the suburbs. Not going to happen. You've also been Governor for a whole two years, not exactly someone steeped in the complexities of the global economy, our military or the challenges we face as a nation.

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty:  You remember him, right? No. Oh right, he was such a weak Presidential candidate that he dropped out after finishing third in an Iowa straw poll last summer and was never heard from again. Supposedly able to get those "Wal-Mart Republicans" (that term isn't too insulting) by dusting off his bona fides as the son of a a truck driver. Of course, Mitt calls people like this "the hired help," but have at it.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal:  Pros: Smart, young, Indian-American. Cons: Compared unfavorably to an NBC page from the show 30 Rock. Does Mitt want a guy standing next to him that looks like he just wrote his graduate thesis? I didn't think so.

Ohio Senator Rob Portman:  The mainstream media's favorite.  He comes from a swing state (where he won election by 18 points) has a resume a mile long that includes stints as a Congressman, U.S. Trade Representative, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and now, U.S. Senator. He's outwardly bland, sober and establishment.  In other words, he's Mitt Romney, if Romney had spent the last 20 years in government. Lowest risk and "safest" pick, by far, though if he is picked, expect his time in the George W. Bush Administration to be raised ad nauseum.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio: Chests heave throughout the right-wing of the Republican party when this 40something darling's name is brought up. Although his personal biography has taken a bit of a hit lately, there's no denying he is a compelling, charismatic and engaging politician. The problem? He could turn out to be Sarah Palin with a combover. 

Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan: He's buff (a P-90X devotee), the unchallenged godfather of modern Congressional fiscal policy, he gets encomiums from the Beltway media because his budget, which ends Medicare and turns it into a voucher system, cuts Medicaid, and raises taxes on poor people is considered "brave," and he has nowhere to go in his current political perch. Herb Kohl's Senate seat is up this year and the other Senator is a Republican whose re-election race is still 4 years away. His state's governor is a Republican (albeit a controversial one) who will, unless he's indicted, run for re-election. 

On top of that, for whatever human emotion Mitt Romney possesses, he seems to genuinely like Ryan, which matters on a national ticket. By picking Ryan, Romney will burnish his right-wing credentials, fire up his base and show his commitment to the GOP version of "fiscal restraint." For Ryan, there's very little downside to being on the 2012 GOP ticket. If they win, he gets to be Vice President, and likely gets handed the budget portfolio in the Romney Administration. If they lose, he goes back to being a Congressman whose reputation on budget matters remains unaffected. He's a player in any negotiation about tax reform policy, has a say over all fiscal matters, can continue to broaden his national profile and gets mentioned as a potential 2016 GOP nominee.  Seems like a no-brainer to me. 

So there you have it kids. Romney/Ryan 2012.  You heard it here first.

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