A fiscal hawk, grounded
Mr Ryan is a policy wonk and old Washington hand, even if he claims to be an outsider, sleeping on a camp bed in his Capitol Hill office. But he has developed the ‘vocabulary’ to sell smaller government to blue-collar voters, enthuses a prominent Republican. His success, according to Tom Price, a congressman from Georgia and an ally, involves tone and temperament, a willingness to reach across party lines and Mr Ryan’s conviction that Americans are ready for a ‘grown-up conversation’ about deficits and entitlements.
I’m not sure Ryan has demonstrated that he is either willing or interested in reaching across ideological lines. He has however, played the game of ‘perception’ well, giving the impression of flexibility without having to stretch the boning on his ideological ‘corset’.
Mr Ryan rarely reaches across the aisle. He has backed little in the way of substantive bipartisan legislation, earning a reputation for putting ideological purity ahead of deal-making. Nor is his district quite the Democratic bastion boosters describe: voters there narrowly backed Barack Obama in 2008, but voted for Mr Bush by a hefty margin in 2004. At present it leans mildly Republican.