August 14 2012
Janna Ryan, the Natural
Something strange and delightful has just happened: A GOP candidate's wife was introduced to the nation over the weekend, and the media hasn't trashed her.
In fact, so far, Janna Ryan, wife of vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan, has been a hit.
The predictable Eleanor Clift of The Daily Beast wrote surprisingly:
For a newcomer to the national stage, Janna Christine Little Ryan comes across as remarkably poised and confident, with a winning smile and a fashionably windswept look—in short, what’s known in the business as a natural….
A stay-at-home mother who, a neighbor told USA Today, attended a recent “porch party” showing off the cute sandals she’d gotten at Goodwill for $2, Janna appears as down-home and unpretentious as her husband, who sleeps in his office weekdays when he’s in Washington.
The Washington Post this morning has a profile of Ms. Ryan (“Janna Ryan Steps Lightly into the National Spotlight”), a former tax lawyer and K Street lobbyist and a stay-at-home mother with degrees from Wellesley College, Hillary Clinton’s alma mater, and George Washington University Law School. She grew up in a “family deeply rooted in Oklahoma’s Democratic politics.” Her great-grandfather ran for governor and founded a law firm where her father still works. Former Oklahoma governor David Boren, now president of the University of Oklahoma, is a cousin.
"You know, he's pretty low-maintenance. Paul is someone who goes with the flow and has one of the sunniest demeanors and most positive outlooks of anyone I've ever met. So I'd say Mitt'll probably have a lot of fun with him."
It may be that Janna Ryan is somebody to whom the media can relate—she went to the right college, has the right look, is a professional—but it was nice to see a Republican wife who wasn’t immediately caricatured.
Whatever the reason—and the media could simply be crouched and ready to attack after a grace period—America has an attractive, new couple on the national political scene. Let’s hope that in a notoriously dirty campaign the Ryans will help change the tone with their sunny demeanors.
If the Romney-Ryan ticket wins, Janna Ryan will be able to speak to the concerns of stay-at-home mothers and professional women alike.