After the vice-presidential debate, I watched MSNBC’s coverage of a focus group of undecided voters. One young man, who was on the fence before the debate, after hearing the exchange between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, made up his mind to vote for President Obama. His decision rested solely on his assessment that Paul Ryan was not fit to be vice-president because he was not be qualified to assume the presidency.
And it’s not like that hasn’t happened before. In the history of the United States, the vice-president became president eight times due to death and once due to resignation. The fact that the vice-president is a “heatbeat away from the presidency” is real. The following nine presidents assumed the presidency without being elected.
- John Tyler, 1841 — Presidential death
- Millard Fillmore, 1850 — Presidential death
- Andrew Johnson, 1865 — Presidential death
- Chester Arthur, 1881 — Presidential death
- Theodore Roosevelt, 1901 — Presidential death
- Calvin Coolidge, 1923 — Presidential death
- Harry Truman, 1945 — Presidential death
- Lyndon Johnson, 1963 — Presidential death
- Gerald Ford, 1974 — Presidential resignation.
There are other reasons to deny Paul Ryan the vice-presidency. One of his most troubling character flaws is that he is a serial liar—from his exaggeration of his marathon running times, to his pretending to wash dishes at a closed soup kitchen, to the six “non-partisan studies” that, supposedly, confirm the validity of his budget figures. The unnamed “six non-partisan studies” Ryan cited in the debate (also used by Romney and his surrogates) were exposed as bogus by none other than Chris Wallace on Fox News. Two of the “studies” were blog posts by a Romney advisor, and the others were manufactured at conservative think tanks. The truly non-partisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that the real intent of the Ryan Budget is to eliminate most of the federal government by 2050.
Ryan’s convention speech was equally riddled with misrepresentations and falsehoods. On Medicare, the stimulus, the closing of the Wisconsin GM plant, the 2011 credit downgrade, debt, the Affordable Care Act, and a host of other topics, Ryan’s mendacity was breathtaking.
The bottom line: Ryan is a right wing zealot who lacks the integrity and maturity to be a congressional representative, much less the wisdom and experience to be vice-president of the United States. Like political/religious zealots everywhere, Ryan’s desire to force his radical views into public policy, in his mind, trumps any requirement that he be honest about his intentions. He consistently tempers or misrepresents his extreme views to hide his radical agenda, which includes destroying Medicare as we know it.
When it comes to women’s rights, Ryan doesn’t believe in them. Unlike his sociopathic running mate Mitt Romney, his misogyny is not an opportunistic ploy to pander to the party’s extreme right wing. This is a guy who teamed up with right wing extremist Todd Akin (R-MO) to cosponsor the bill that introduced America to the despicable term “forcible rape.” Ryan and Akin also cosponsored a federal personhood bill, the Sanctity of Human Life Act of 2009, which declares that a fertilized egg is entitled to the same legal rights as a human being. Both Ryan and Akin advocate outlawing abortion and many forms of contraception.
I would ask Republicans, when you go to the polls, consider that Romney’s sole reason for becoming president is to funnel money to himself and fellow members of the 1 percent. His political agenda is modeled after his business model at Bain Capital where he bought companies and bankrupted them, so he could “harvest” the profits for himself and his investors. When Romney finishes with the United States, it will be like one of his bankrupted companies, a hollowed out husk. If that doesn’t alarm you, then ask yourself: do you really want his running mate, Paul Ryan, who is completely unqualified by any measure, to be a heartbeat away from the presidency?