Paul Ryan vs. Joe Biden

Paul Ryan versus Joe Biden sets up Irish Catholic political showdown - Lace curtain Irish Ryan against Shanty Irish Biden a contest for the ages

There will be an Irish American Catholic vice president of the United States next January we can now say with certainty.

Joe Biden and Paul Ryan may appear similar in ethnicity and religion but there are as many differences as similarities.

Their Vice Presidential debate will be the first ever between two Irish Catholic contenders for the VP slot. It will make for fascinating viewing as it would be hard to find two politicians who are further apart on how to fix what ails America.

Their views of the role of government could not be farther apart. Ryan is a disciple of another famed Irish American Ronald Reagan, who was always keen to limit government’s growth. Biden is a child of the New Deal and an apostle of the era of Kennedy and LBJ when massive new government programs lifted millions out of poverty.

Ryan is lace curtain Irish, enjoying the benefits of a wealthy upbringing, thanks to a construction company fortune and a successful family legal practice.

Ryan’s home growing up had eight bedroom and six bathrooms and was registered as a state historical residence. Friends describe it as a mansion.

Biden on the other hand grew up mostly in poverty, shanty Irish was the term often used. The family moved in with their Finnegan relatives but still could not make it in Scranton, Pa, and moved to Delaware where Biden’s father became a used car salesman.

Perhaps it is their uniquely different backgrounds that color both men’s politics. Personality-wise both men are seen as affable and popular and not just in their own parties but with opponents as well.

Ryan suffered terrible personal tragedy, coming home from high school and finding his father dead in the bed. Biden too suffered enormously losing his first wife and a daughter in a dreadful car accident.

How will Irish Americans react to the contest.?

Washington Post reporter Melissa Bell had an interesting account from one Irish woman she encountered on the trail with Romney on Saturday.

She wrote: ”Alice Butler-Short, a 70-year-old Irish dance teacher who grew up in Tipperary, Ireland, and now lives in Norton, Va., was clad head-to-high-heeled-toe in American-flag-themed attire as she stood at the front of the line waiting to get into the Manassas event.

“He’s absolutely phenomenal,” she said of Ryan. “Romney couldn’t have done better. He didn’t pick the guy who could help him win this state or that state... He picked the best person for the country.”

“Amen,” said a woman in the crowd next to her.

Will  most Irish Catholics feel the same way? How the Catholic vote goes will decide this election

We’ll know in 86 days.