- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Alas, we lost a most desirable candidate for the White House this week, one who is not charismatic, did not write (or have someone else write) his memoir, has displayed no jump shot in public, and did not leave important documents on his desk while gallivanting around the country in campaign mode and heading for vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. In the first instance, I am talking about Rep. Paul Ryan. In the second, I am talking about President you-know-who. Since the day he was inaugurated, he has been campaigning for his second term, all the while expressing ambivalence about wanting a second term. That is nonsense. He is living rent-free and has that big airplane to fly about the country in.

Mr. Ryan has declared that he is inalterably not seeking the Republican nomination. He did it despite pressure from Karl Rove and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and after a long hike in the countryside with Bill Bennett, the ex-Reagan Cabinet official.

Mr. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, took his name out of the race with characteristic seriousness. “I sincerely appreciate the support from those eager to chart a brighter future for the next generation,” he declared. “While humbled by the encouragement, I have not changed my mind, and therefore I am not seeking our party’s nomination for President.” There was not much charisma there. He is not running.

Yet, why did he say after the latest Republican debate, “I just have yet to see a strong and principled articulation of the kind of limited-government, opportunity-society path that we would provide as an alternative to the Obama cradle-to-grave welfare state”? I thought then he was going to run. Does he have someone else in mind?

He already has an alternative budget to use to campaign against Mr. Obama whenever the president presents a budget. It passed the House. It strikes at the heart of our current budgetary impasse, taking on entitlements and the huge cancer that Mr. Obama introduced into our polity against the public’s wishes, Obamacare. Mr. Ryan is the natural opponent of Mr. Obama. He has the demonstrated intellectual leadership that would make him a powerful force on the campaign trail, to say nothing of in debate.

Moreover, he has the economic message that a potent constituency out there wants to hear: the independents. In 2010, the independent vote swarmed to Republicans. Today, the independents show every sign of sticking with the Republicans for years to come because they essentially are concerned about pocketbook issues and it is clear Democrats are not. Democrats are advocates of high taxes, regulations and the nanny state. The independent vote has demonstrated that it is pro-growth. The independents are Ryan independents.

They do not care if a president wrote a lovely memoir or did not write it. They do not care about his jump shot. They are coming to my opinion on charisma. It is entertaining, but in these times, we need something beyond entertainment. We need policies that will get America growing again.

That brings us to those documents Mr. Obama left sitting on his desk. During his campaign swing through the Midwest last week, he complained repeatedly that there were three free-trade agreements, with Korea, Colombia, and Panama, pending in Congress. Sending them on to the president, the Wall Street Journal reported Mr. Obama as saying, Congress “could do right now,” save for congressional obduracy. Then the Journal reported that Congress could not pass the agreements because they were “still sitting on the President’s desk.” Someone overlooked them, but the Journal says they are there. I would like to know how this little mishap gets worked out.

In the meantime, if Mr. Ryan has “yet to see a strong and principled articulation of the kind of limited-government, opportunity-society path that we would provide as an alternative to the Obama cradle-to grave welfare state,” does he have anyone else in mind? It is getting late.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His new book is “After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Recovery.”