One of the key problems with Paul Ryan's role on Mitt Romney's ticket is the scope of appeal -- Romney is running on the most right-wing platform Americans have seen in a generation, and then he picked the most right-wing running mate in modern history.
At the very moment one might expect the Republican candidate to expand his appeal to center and American mainstream, Romney is doing the opposite.
To address the problem, the former governor is apparently going to pretend his VP nominee has broad appeal. Indeed, in the introductory speech on Saturday morning, Romney said, "In a city that's far too often characterized by pettiness and personal attacks, Paul Ryan is a shining exception. He doesn't demonize his opponents. He understands that honorable people can have honest differences. He appeals to the better angels of our nature. There are a lot of people in the other party who might disagree with Paul Ryan; I don't know of anyone who doesn't respect his character and judgment."
Watching this, I kept thinking, is there some other Paul Ryan in Congress?
Sahil Kapur had a good item on this yesterday.
Mitt Romney has been talking up Rep. Paul Ryan's bipartisan credentials since he unveiled the congressman as his running mate early Saturday. But the mild-mannered Wisconsinite's record reveals a near-total absence of Democratic support for his many ambitious proposals, very few of which have won enough support to become law. [...]
On the campaign trail in Florida Monday, Romney again praised Ryan for "working across the aisle" to find solutions to the nation's problems.
The argument belies Ryan's storied record as a no-compromise conservative ideologue, an approach that has become more rigid during the Obama administration. He has become his party's visionary on sweeping proposals to remake the federal budget, wedding nearly all Republicans to a blueprint that has failed to win over a single Democrat.
After seven terms in Congress, the grand total of important bills Ryan passed into law with the help of members from both parties is, quite literally, zero. His voting record is so extreme, Ryan's roughly as far to the right as Michele Bachmann.
Some are prepared to argue that's not a bad thing. Fox News' Steve Doocy asked yesterday morning, "What's the matter with being an ideologue?" Soon after, Fox News' Gregg Jarrett said it might be a "compliment" to call Ryan a right-wing ideologue.
We can at least have an honest debate about Ryan's record if Republicans see him as he is, but to pretend he reaches across the aisle to get things done, working in a bipartisan fashion, is absurd.
Update: In 2011, Ryan killed a $4 trillion debt-reduction plan because he "was concerned that a deal would pave the way for Mr. Obama’s easy re-election." He cared more, in other words, about campaign politics than his own stated policy goals.