Only in the increasingly conventionally wise world of Ross Douthat could the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man of the GOP's coming apocalypse be described as "a formidable political talent."
Paul Ryan is the oblivious face of the Whig Party II, and unless the more traditional Whigs wake up, reorganize and disgorge their internal pathogens, such as Ryan, they'll go the way of the Whig Party I. That's not a mere prediction and it's certainly not wishful thinking--the Democratic Party needs a strong, healthy two-party system to maintain its own vitality and sharpness. It is, rather, an inexorability.
Neither does Ryan's utterly reprehensible politics taint, in a sour grapes way, my opinion of his political skills. I'm perfectly willing to acknowledge "political talent" in even the most despicable of talented politicians: e.g. W., Gingrich, Nixon, even Joe McCarthy. Paul Ryan, however, is simply not of this class. His is the face of party collapse and catastrophe--and either the party will rid itself of its Ryans, or the Ryans will rid the country of the party.
I suppose one could call that "talent," for self-destruction anyway. But it's not my idea of political formidability. Paul Ryan is a walking, blithering time bomb.