by Ray Fleming

Four years ago everyone in America was dumbfounded by John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his Republican Vice-Presidential candidate. The full story of how that choice was made and by whom has not yet been told and may never be.

This year Mitt Romney's choice of Paul Ryan seems more conventional and logical but there are two odd things about it. Earlier this year the Republican Party went through the familiar primaries procedure to choose its Presidential candidate. Off-and-on there were five contenders in what proved to be a bad-tempered series of contests from which no one, except perhaps Mr Romney himself emerged with any credit. Curiously, though Paul Ryan was not among the contenders he nonetheles now finds himself on the Republican ticket for the White House. When Mitt Romney introduced Mr Ryan at a press conference as his running mate he inadvertently described him as “the next President of the United States” but quickly made light of his blunder. However, since he moved to Mr Romney's side Ryan has appeared to be the more fluent and coherent to an extent that must be worrying the Romney camp somewhat. The old American tradition that the vice-presidential candidate goes to Washington and is never heard of again no longer applies but it is a long time since someone as forceful as Ryan has been chosen.