COMMENTARY | You know that guy in the bar, the one who’s pretty cute from across a crowded electorate, who swaggers over and starts talking? You know, at first, you think, hey, he’s kind of good looking, but he keeps talking, his speech and eyes carefully earnest, scanning the room with every sip of his beer? That guy who keeps going until you realize you have absolutely no idea what on earth he’s talking about?
That guy’s Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
He came out swinging in the vice presidential debate, but the question is, at what, exactly? He attacked Joe Biden, he attacked the president. I know he did, I heard the tone.
But I haven’t got the faintest clue of how he attacked them. The initial question to both candidates, regarding the attacks in Libya, had him angry that it took, by his count “two weeks” for the White House to determine that the attacks were not the result of a YouTube video, but a planned terrorist attack.
Let’s assume his timeline is correct (it wasn’t; on Sept. 12, government officials were already stating the attack may have been planned). Let’s just jump into his alternate timeline. He wanted an immediate statement and public assessment of an ongoing and developing situation? Such a view shows an incredible lack of understanding of the role of government and the need for investigation, diplomacy and clarity in such a crisis.
It’s the same way the bar guy using the “insult” technique — like telling you you’d look better with straighter hair because throwing you off balance is sure way to close the deal — shows an incredible lack of understanding of women.
Here’s the reality. Mitt Romney and Ryan are amateurs. They talk fast while saying very little, and it’s clear they have no idea what it is they’re supposed to be doing, how these situations should go, or how to stop something that could easily escalate from becoming far worse than the tragedy it already is.
Take for example, Ryan’s quote that “What we also want to do is make sure that we’re not projecting weakness abroad.” You can take those words. They sound strong and masculine, manly. We want to make sure we’re not projecting weakness abroad.
But what does that mean for a country that has had two wars it didn’t want, a country that has been at war more than at peace, a country that does not want another war in Iran? Do you really want the guy who keeps going toe to toe and threatening to punch people out over a spilled drink, the possibility of a spilled drink? Do you want a guy whose reaction to violence or the threat of violence is yet more violence?
Not when the other guy diffuses the situation, shares a friendly word, calms the other guy down, and everyone goes home in one piece, no cops necessary. You don’t want the belligerent drunk.
You want the guy who can de-escalate the belligerent drunk.
The Paul Ryans of the world seem OK to the casual observer with the loud music drowning out half of what they’re saying, with the ritual of elections blowing their big, red flags nearly out of the field of vision.
But when the booze wears off and it’s just Ryan, Romney, and their endless words that say nothing at all, regret will set in.
Guys like Ryan are best left at the bar. No one wants to wake up on Nov. 7 doing the voters’ walk of shame, wishing we could just go back.