So far, it would be almost impossible to suggest that the presumptive Republican nominee is not a tone-deaf milquetoast. Intellectual honesty and humor should convince even conservatives of the accuracy of the New York Times’ scathing editorial by David Javerbaum comparing Romney to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. The reason that Romney is losing is that instead of playing to win, he plays a game of Shrodinger’s cat and poison, attempting not to perish from the various calumny charges that the Obama campaign, its arsenal of surrogates, and Super PAC’s have authorized. When Bain was accused of outsourcing American jobs, instead of arguing that cheap labor in China contains myriad benefits for the American people, Romney claimed that his participation in the Olympics made someone else responsible. There was a reprisal when Priorities USA’s fraudulent ad linking Romney with a woman’s cancer caused Romney’s communication team to insist the cancer would not have metastasized in Massachusetts.

On other occasions, Romney has all but laid the trap of the media persecution to which he is routinely subjected. As a man whose sole task for the last five years was running for the presidency, he ought to have known it was unacceptable to maintain banking accounts in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland. It did not matter whether the Cayman Island’s reputation as a tax haven is or is not factual. Instead, it only mattered that Romney was not street-smart enough to realize its negative effect on voter perception. Other conservative columnists have insisted that Romney’s out-of-touch persona is an irreversible component of the man. As this is true, Romney should do what other politicians have done since time immemorial to compensate with effective strategy. Romney’s overseas trip to London, Poland, and Israel was a brilliant maneuver that had the capacity to blitzkrieg American confidence in Obama’s foreign policy. Instead, he reinforced the silver spoon stereotype by vaunting about the horse Ann was sending to the Olympic dressage competition. That was understandably ridiculed, however, no such sentiment ought to have surrounded his straightforward conclusion about Palestinian culture determining its destiny in his Israel speech. Romney yielded to pressure and backtracked his remarks, missing a perfect opportunity to expand on his astute observation to Jewish voters and criticize Obama in tandem. Obama’s analogous 2008 visit to Israel coalesced in a statement on Jerusalem being the irrevocable capital of Israel, a remark that was rescinded the very next day. The only conclusion that begs to be reached is that Romney has not recognized the tactical upper ground on which Republican prospects could lie, nor have his staff informed him.

The result of Romney’s incompetency is that Obama has succeeded in his Chicago political gutter play, and turned what ought to have been a referendum election on his presidency to an election of two alternative choices with equally respectable philosophy. Ironically, Romney’s decorum in response to character assassination has done little to salvage his reputation. In this arena of gladiatorial combat, Romney’s low key style has been so underwhelming as to allow such expired political players as Sandra Fluke to materialize out of the fog and dominate headlines in his place. Meanwhile, Obama continue to sidestep his administration’s blatant failures by repeating the mantra of Blame Bush, and elicits paroxysms of emotionally-triggered vote pledges unimpeded.

Enter Paul Ryan, the titanic visionary of the Republican budget of 2010, who is now named by Romney as his pick for Vice President. Somehow, Romney’s bold VP choice suggests he will no longer run a timorous campaign, which in and of itself is reassuring. Simultaneously, it is quite dangerous. Wile it would be fruitless to deny that Paul Ryan is the intellectual spark of the conservative movement in government given the array of his accomplishments and budget erudition, few people vote on the basis of incandescent arguments and respond to such nebulous prospects as likability and empty promises. I recommend reading the recent columns of WSJ, National Review, etc for the cogent minutiae of why Ryan is a great pick. However, I would also suggest that as stunning as the argument is for his appropriateness in the vice presidential spot, I recognize the effort of persuasion as one that is not likely to capture the elusive swing voter. I would have preferred Marco Rubio or Bobby Jindal to capture Hispanic and other minority votes. In contrast, Paul Ryan may ward off many white people who previously supposed they would vote for Romney, yet will refuse to support the boogeyman incarnate as VP, who Democrats have long caricatured pushing granny off of a cliff. On the level of truthfulness these libelous accusations fail the barometer of reason. (See Avik Roy’s Forbes Column on Mediscare Tactics, which reinforces how medicare reform will not affect those over 55). Ryan will have to overcome falsehood with more protestation than the truth will give traction to, and he is already behind.

Entitlement programs are rightly considered the third rail of American policy, a reference the fatal electricity-generating rail that runs parallel to the train tracks. Convincing Americans to embrace Ryan’s vision of the third rail will be a tough sell and is likely a lethal proposition for the Romney campaign to bank on. The American people abhor debt in general, but they are less inclined to resolve the problem by cutting their own particular programs. I doubt he will be successful. Howver, the stakes involve the integrity of America itself as that untouchable third rail is taking America on the collision course to the Third Republic of Socialist France.  In Hollande-stewarded France, the stormcloud of a 70+% top tax rate and a massive resurgence of leftwing government engineering is conjuring Grecian ruins on the horizon and even now is causing a mass exodus of well-to-do Frenchmen. In America, do we resent success or achieve it? Is corporatism the enemy or is the trickle down state-run economy to be dreaded? Are we-self sufficient and hardworking or lazy and largess-dependent?  Ryan can appeal to brainpower, but what about the heart?

Obama assumes the mantle of compassion to explain everything he does.  Instead, it seems perfectly evident that Obama’s approach is that of underhanded psychological manipulation.  His campaign has stanced itself like the biggest corporations of all, those that control the credit card industry. Consequently, Obama advertisements shrewdly emphasize immediate gratification and the luxury of living beyond one’s means and diminish the visualization of debt that will be incurred in the future. Ryan should not only ensure that the future is as vivid in voters’ minds as the immediate gratification of the entitlement present, he should ask Americans whether Obama’s government handouts have been very gratifying.  Obama’s suggestion that taxing the rich will reduce the debt is counterfactual to the mentality of revenge in which those policies are generated.  A tax increase on wealth will either marginally increase revenue, or it will reduce them (and Obama admitted he would rather lose revenue by raising capital gains because he wants rich people to pay their “fair share“).  The answer is that we were better off before Obama, better off under Bush and Clinton and at any point since the Great Depression. Giving up our entitlements now in the gradual compassionate vision Ryan outlined with Democratic Representative Wyden from Oregon will be painful, but it is still possible that we can rely on ourselves to reclaim the frontier of prosperity. Sooner or later, we will be forced to give our entitlements up because they are not sustainable. If not now, we are forcing our grandchildren to inherit the pollution of our choices. We will have abandoned the essence of the American Dream, and resigned our society to self-perpetuating stagnancy.  Who is pushing who off a cliff?
Aaron Lasker | University of Pennsylvania | @GOPopinjay