Both Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are widely seen as big players in the future of the Republican Party.

Wall Street Journal‘s Peggy Noonan doesn’t see what the big deal is. She writes today on the speeches each of them gave last week in Iowa:

Rep. Ryan’s speech was OK but insufficient. He didn’t say anything terrible but he didn’t stake out new ground or take chances. Actually, the part where he said Mitt Romney made “a big election about big ideas and offering serious solutions to serious problems” was slightly terrible because it isn’t in a general way true, and it forestalls analysis that might actually be helpful in the long term. Mr. Ryan got points for loyalty but no one doubts he’s loyal, and it undercut his central message, which is that the Republican Party needs “new thinking,” “fresh ideas and serious leadership,” and must find “new ways to apply our timeless principles to the challenges of today.”Well, yes, that’s true. But what thinking do you suggest? In what area? Which fresh ideas? Do you have one? …

But Mr. Rubio also indulged a rhetorical tic that we hear a lot and that is deeply obnoxious. He said the words “middle class” 12 times on the first page alone. Repeating that phrase mantralike will not make people think you’re concerned about the middle class, it will only make them think you’re concerned about winning the middle class. It is important to remember in politics that people aren’t stupid.

I find both Mr. Ryan’s and Mr. Rubio’s media expertise mildly harrowing—look at the prompter here, shake your head here, lower your voice there, raise it here, pick up your pace in this section.