A lot of progressives are ecstatic about the Paul Ryan selection on the part of Mitt Romney. I'm not so sure that it is a great pick for the Democrats on that level. After all, Ryan follows the ethically challenged Dick Cheney and the intellectually challenged Sarah Palin. He looks presidential and he can actually find a coherent thought without the help of a flashlight. I'm not as thrilled about the prospect of Joe Biden debating Paul Ryan on national television.
What this selection does is crystallize the debate for Americans. After all, pinning down Mitt Romney on anything has been a struggle. The imagery that would be most apt would be trying to nail jello to a wall. Romney is slimy and that sliminess has served him to this point. He could have sold being a moderate and conservative with equal ease. The selection of Ryan has forced him to choose a direction.
The Republican strategy has worked well for them up until this point. The usual game at the first term of a presidency is to battle on the president's first term. Unfortunately, Obama can't really fight on that level. Outside of health care reform, the Republicans have blocked nearly every single piece of major legislation. The stimulus was also important, but they have thrown so much misinformation out there, that Obama will have a hard time defending it (even though he should).
So, this election has become a part of competing philosophies and Ryan is about as effective as any on articulating the conservative philosophy. The Republicans have history on their side as Americans as a whole don't remember their history. They don't remember who got them into this mess. They don't remember that the right has obstructed most attempts to get us out of this mess. They only know that we are in a mess and they know who is currently in the White House. That might be enough to swing the upset.
So, the progressives have to fight a two-front war. First, they must fight on the philosophical level. They have to tell people why trickle down won't work and how it has never worked in our history. That's a tough sell by itself simply because of most voters' lack of attention to history. Plus, you don't want to get too detailed as people don't just details. Obama is a good communicator and should be good at this portion of the debate.
The second portion of the debate will be the harder one. People don't like excuses, but Obama has a built in excuse he needs to focus on. He must show the Republicans for what they are. He must show how they obstructed at every step of the way. This is a delicate game for a couple of reasons. First, no one likes someone that just makes excuses for why they couldn't get the job done. Secondly, we can get distracted by assigning motives to their obstruction. We all know why, but the why is hard to prove and largely irrelevant. They are not allowing progress and because they have not allowed progress, Americans have needlessly suffered.