by JOEL B. POLLAK 17 Aug 2012, 6:30 PM
In the first week since Paul Ryan joined Mitt Romney on the Republican ticket, something subtle yet fundamental has happened to the country–something not yet reflected in poll numbers or punditry: the mantle of leadership has shifted.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden (certainly the latter) occupy office but cannot be said to govern in any meaningful way beyond formalities. Obama avoids the media; Biden has been sent back to Delaware; and their vast auxiliary army of super PACs and community organizers is reduced to petty sniping and personal attacks. No one expects any truly new ideas or proposals to come out of the Obama campaign anymore. It is telling that the only real debate this week was between Romney and Ryan’s Medicare policies, not Obama’s.
The honest reflections of the more thoughtful voices on the American left confirm that Romney and Ryan are, in effect, leading the country. First there was William Saletan of Slate, who wrote–without irony: “A wonderful thing has happened for this country. Paul Ryan will be the Republican nominee for vice president.” He added that Republicans like Ryan were the perfect antidote to Democratic excesses: “Maybe, like me, you were raised in a liberal household. You don’t agree with conservative ideas on social or foreign policy. But this is why God made Republicans: to force a reality check when Democrats overpromise and overspend.”