Indeed, if Romney loses this race, the selection of Ryan may turn out to be the principal reason. It was crucial for Romney, whose positions a campaign staff aide once described as being written on an Etch A Sketch, to make it clear to the American electorate that he stands for something.
But the selection of Ryan - whose budget plan Romney says isn't his budget plan, whose position on abortion Romney says isn't his position on abortion, whose reluctance to compromise is contrary to the former Massachusetts governor's history of working with Democrats - makes voters wonder just who would be calling the shots.
It was painful to watch how Wisconsin's Ryan and his partner, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, jerked the reins of leadership from House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio to make sure there would be no compromise with Obama on a budget. It was not just that they truly felt they had a better plan for America, which they obviously did; their ultimate goal was to make sure Obama's failure to pass a budget would hurt his reelection chances.
Now it's up to Romney to take the opportunity the House Republicans have given him and win the presidency. He even has Ryan on the ticket to bring the heat when he's having a weak moment and forgets he's no longer the moderate who implemented Obamacare's daddy in his home state because it was the right thing to do. Ryan's convention speech Wednesday night showed there's no weakness in him.
Romney could be a good president. His experience in both business and government could be a great asset, if he, unlike some of his moneybags conservative supporters, admits government isn't the enemy and that shrinking it to an unacceptable level hurts the country, too. Will the Ryan gang allow Romney to do that?
To win, Romney has to offer voters more than his resumé, and he has to do more than attack Obama's record. Romney had the audacity to ask the convention attendees if they were better off now than four years ago. The Republicans shouted no, but any reasonable person must admit that, while America is far from where it needs to be, it's a hell of a lot better than it was during a recession that threatened to dive into another Great Depression.