Byron York captures the dilemma (via The Dish):
On election night 2010, Republican strategists conducted a poll that asked GOP voters…which issue had been most important in deciding their vote. Fifty-four percent said jobs and the economy, versus 10 percent who said the deficit and federal spending. This month, after months of fights over budgets, continuing resolutions, and the debt ceiling, the Republican pollsters asked another simple question: “Which is more important — reducing government spending or creating jobs?” Sixty-five percent said creating jobs, versus 30 percent who said reducing spending.
Ryan is perhaps the single Republican most associated with the cause of reducing government spending. Until now, most Republican presidential candidates have been hesitant to fully embrace Ryan’s budget plan, which among its many proposals calls for a voucherlike program to reform Medicare. If Ryan were in the race, there would be one candidate running wholeheartedly on the budget; if he were the nominee, the Ryan plan would be the Republican Party platform.
Jim Antle insists it’s not worth the risk. Allahpundit is enthusiastic, but likewise doesn’t see a path to victory. Reminding us of the political radioactivity of entitlement reform, Larison continues to pour cold water. Taking on conservative skeptics, John McCormack downplays Ryan’s liabilities. Chait, who has been on the case for months, concludes:
If you think the substantive radicalism of Ryan’s agenda is more of a liability than the on-the-surface craziness of a Rick Perry, you have a much higher estimation of the electorate than I do.
And naturally, Douthat explains why Chris Christie would make a better candidate.