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Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany

Ryan: Romney’s Little
Bobblehead Doggie



By Daniel Haufler

Mitt Romney lauded Paul Ryan as being in tune with America's problems; Paul Ryan lauded Romney right back with the same praise. Whenever Romney said anything, Ryan's head nodded as mechanically as those little doggies one sees in the rear windows of some cars.

Translated By Ron Argentati

15 August 2012

Edited by Gillian Palmer


Germany - Frankfurter Rundschau - Original Article (German)

In their first joint television interview, presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan focused on one thing: no mistakes. But that itself was a mistake. That's not how to win an election.

There they sit in their tatters, all checked shirts and dark jackets, the American flag pins centered perfectly in their button holes. They both smile the narrow-lipped smirks of people who don't intend to reveal anything — and that's exactly how the first joint interview of the Republican presidential and vice presidential candidates went during the entire CBS “60 Minutes” segment.

Mitt Romney lauded Paul Ryan as being in tune with America's problems; Paul Ryan lauded Romney right back with the same praise. Whenever Romney said anything, Ryan's head nodded as mechanically as those little doggies one sees in the rear windows of some cars. That, or his smile, became so broad that it practically looked like a grin. In contrast, whenever Ryan spoke, Romney stared directly forward, almost as if he had a stiff neck.

Both said they intended to get America “back on track.” They had apparently agreed to use that as their motto beforehand: In the first three minutes of the interview, both of them used the phrase twice, and it popped up at least eight times in the course of the 14-minute interview. The main thing was that steps finally had to be taken to steer America back onto the right course. That, they said, required leadership qualities Obama didn't have.

Nothing about content, no concrete recommendations not even the bare outline of any plan — except to reduce debt and cut taxes, which, as the German Free Democratic Party (FDP) discovered to its dismay, is no cure-all. The only thing Romney was definite about was that he would not be campaigning on Ryan's radical safety net-destroying budget plan but, rather, on his own plan. In one short sentence, he refuted what liberal observers like John Heilemann and conservative commentators like George Will had both been praying for: that the campaign would finally be waged on substance rather than negativity; that two opposing concepts would go head to head. Fat chance.

CBS moderator Bob Schieffer conducted the interview skillfully, allowing both politicians to explain how Romney came to settle on Ryan as his running mate and what fitting qualities he possessed for the job. He prefaced critical questions by saying things like, “Well, this might embarrass you,” as when he tried to find out whether Ryan was in agreement with the direction the campaign was taking. He reminded both that Congress had obstructed any progress. He asked both if the wealthy shouldn't pay the highest tax rates. And Schieffer didn't forget to ask Ryan how many years’ worth of tax returns he provided to Romney before he made his choice. Answer: two, the same number Romney himself made public.

Both politicians were appropriately guarded and avoided the kind of major blunders Sarah Palin made four years earlier. Meanwhile, Ryan sounded like a younger clone of Mitt Romney. Down to the wording and phraseology, Ryan even parroted the formulaic speech patterns of the presidential candidate. Just take care to never give away anything the Obama team might seize upon in some video clip. That appears to be the order of the day; it doesn't say anything about confidence as much as it does about fear. Anyone hoping that Ryan would be a game changer, someone who could change the direction of the campaign, had to have been disappointed by this interview. And President Obama can enjoy the moment.



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