Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Paul Ryan's "no" got him the Speaker job. Will it get him the GOP nomination?

Brian Beutler at the New Republic advises leaving open the possibility that "no" means "yes" when Paul Ryan says it.

House Speaker Paul Ryan either has a fox’s IQ, or a fox’s instinct for self-preservation. But you’re giving him too much credit if you think he’s clever like one.


“Let me be clear. I do not want, nor will I accept the nomination for our party,” he said at a press conference at Republican National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill. “If no candidate has a majority on the first ballot, I believe that you should only choose from a person who has actually participated in the primary. Count me out.”

A demurral this categorical would normally put an end to the buzz, but Ryan has a unique history. In the antiquity of six months ago, Ryan insisted he would “not be a candidate” for House speaker, before grudgingly (or perhaps “grudgingly”) accepting the assignment a few days later. To many ears, Ryan’s latest statement contains an implicit omission: I do not want, nor will I accept the nomination for our party … but you can quite easily force it on me, as you know from recent experience.

For the press to interpret his denial as genuinely Shermanesque, Ryan would have had to say something more like, “I shall not seek the nomination, will not accept it, and if it is thrust upon me, I shall commit seppuku.” Instead, many seasoned analysts believe this is merely a feint, and that in the event of a deadlocked convention, he would relent reluctantly (“reluctantly”) again.

Rachel Maddow is one of those seasoned analysts. A few days ago, she voiced her own suspicions in this clip.

How about a "zombie-eyed granny starver" for the GOP nomination? Here is some of Charles Pierce's take on Ryan from a November 2013 essay in Esquire.

... the nub of things here. Paul Ryan's solution to poverty -- which is "light on specifics" as the Post later admits -- is largely theological and, as the Jesuits at Georgetown demonstrated, it is not even very good theology. More to the point, though, let's go back to that brief biographical sketch, shall we? Paul Ryan's father died, but Paul Ryan's father was extraordinarily well off, especially in Janesville. (So much for the burdens of those "maxed out" student loans his brother is so fond of mentioning.) He also was politically connected enough that young Paul never lacked for sugar daddies while, at the same time, young Paul was pulling down Social Security benefits that got him through high school and college. (I was working at the time and glad to help such an earnest young man. You're welcome, dickhead.) He also got wealthy in the most American way of all. He married well.

So here's my question. All those years when my money and the money of millions of other Americans were helping this already well-off young man hold body and soul together while he went through college, how come his incentive wasn't damaged by all the taking he was doing? How come he wasn't crippled by "dependency"? How come his work ethic survived long enough to guarantee that he would never draw anything but a government salary for the rest of his life? How come, as a congressman, on my dime, he hasn't felt the slow, stultifying hand of government strangling his individual initiative? How come the only people all this quasi-mystical horse-pucky applies to are the people too poor for Paul Ryan's party to care about? If I do nothing for the rest of my career here than point out what a complete fake this guy is, while embarrassing the fatheads who still take him seriously, I will die a happy blogger.

Ryan and his fellow Ayn-Rand-ian travelers commit a psychological error: he made out OK solely because of his efforts. Therefore, in that mode of thinking, all you po' folk are at fault for not measuring up. To admit that the poor and sick are products of the environment is not admissible in the Rand-ian Ryan mental domain because to do so would call attention to how Ryan profited from circumstances not of his making.

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