Say what you will about Paul Ryan, his selection by Mitt Romney as his vice-presidential runningmate is likely the most dramatic choice he could have made. And there are a lot of things about Ryan you probably don't know.
Did you know, for example, that among his hobbies is "noodling?" That's a thoroughly redneck sport in which participants get in the water, stick their arms into the mouths of big ole catfish and then haul them out. He's also an avid bow hunter. And he married one of my fellow Oklahomans - Janna Ryan is from Oklahoma City, the heart of the American heartland.
Here's something else you probably don't know about Ryan - He first came to Washington to work for Rep. Jack Kemp. That's Kemp as in "Kemp-Roth Tax Cuts." And Kemp as in "A rising tide lifts all boats." Kemp was all about economic growth, for all Americans. He was the optimist and the enemy of green eyeshade Republicans whose only solution for America's economic woes were budget cuts and pain.
Ryan is no Dr. Pain Republican. He's about growth and opportunity. And he knows the numbers better than just about anybody else in this town. Something else to think about here- he's already demonstrated on repeated occasions that he has the measure of President Obama.
But the most important thing about Ryan being Romney's runningmate is that it means America will finally get what it has needed for decades - a serious national debate about how to reform Social Security, Medicare and other entitlements to save them for the present and future generations of people who need them.
Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden and the Democrats will claim that can only be done with higher taxes, more government regulation and expanded federal spending. That is a view that commands the allegiance of millions of honest, hard-working people.
Romney, Ryan and the Republicans will point to the hard realities of approaching bankruptcy and offer reforms to restore the stability and viability of the social safety net. That is also a view that commands the allegiance of millions of honest, hard-working people.
The campaign begins in earnest now. And if these men are genuinely interested in making America better, they will stop the negative TV spots and get on with the real debate.
Mark Tapscott is executive editor of The Washington Examiner.