Mitt Romney‘s choice of arch-conservative Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his Vice-Presidential running mate is all about energizing the wacko right. It is also manna from heaven as Ryan is a smart, focused, anti-government militant who believes in cleavering entitlements — the “tough choices” he’s referred to many times — in order to reduce the national debt. This pretty much cinches Obama’s re-election as Ryan will gradually scare the living crap out most independents, the elderly in particular, as he is no friend of Medicare.
And — I love this — Ryan is an Ayn Rand devotee. Rand is the dominant influence and the formative shaper of his thinking. Objectivism! For movie-centric types, Rand is the author of The Fountainhead, which was turned into a notoriously sexy 1949 King Vidor film about Gary Cooper, as architect Howard Roark, ramming Patricia Neal‘s Dominique Francon over and over and over. So this will be a somewhat sexier Presidential campaign than anticipated, the Eddie Munster factor not withstanding.
“Like many conservatives, Paul Ryan claims to have been profoundly affected by Ayn Rand,” The New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza writes in an August 2012 profile. “After reading ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ he told me, ‘I said, ‘Wow, I’ve got to check out this economics thing.’
“In a 2005 speech to a group of Rand devotees called the Atlas Society, Ryan said that Rand was required reading for his office staff and interns. ‘The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,’ he told the group. ‘The fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.'”
“One trope that has marked Ryan’s media coverage from the outset is that he is consistently described as lacking ambition,” wrote New York‘s Jonathan Chait in an April 2012 profile. “It’s a sharp contrast with fellow Republican Eric Cantor, to whom the adjective ‘ambitious’ is affixed like a tattoo. Ryan says, and many political reporters believe, that he is immune to the political concerns that distract his colleagues. He ‘has a level of disdain for the sort of rank political calculations required of people who want to climb the electoral ladder,’ explains the Washington Post.
“Here is a telling description from Politico: “Of the partisan political game, Ryan confessed, ‘It’s not my natural tendency. I’m a policy guy.’ The operative word here is ‘confessed.'”
“There’s nothing serious about a plan” — i.e., the Ryan plan — “that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires,” President Obama said last year in a speech. “There’s nothing courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don’t have any clout on Capitol Hill.”
“In the selection of a running mate as in the practice of medicine, there has long been the edict that you ‘first do no harm,'” N.Y. Times columnist Frank Bruni wrote this morning. “Ryan could do enormous harm. With glee and persistence, he has laid out an entitlement reform plan that is indisputably an entitlement reduction plan, and while that speaks to a concern for federal budgets and for a ballooning debt that many Americans share, it comes at those fiscal challenges with a scythe when many Americans would prefer a scalpel.
Plus the Ryan plan “isn’t matched with a similarly emphatic commitment to revenue enhancement: with changes to the tax code that would get at what many voters feel is too much coddling of the richest Americans. That creates an opportunity for Democrats to ratchet up their assault on Romney as a candidate of and for the wealthy.”
“On top of that, Ryan has the potential to upstage Romney. He’s more dynamic. More articulate. More specific. He’s a poster boy for ideological conservatives. Romney’s a poster boy for ideological chameleons.”