Paul Ryan - the cutest package that cruelty ever came in
Romney has outsourced his political identity to a numbers guy whose numbers don’t add up
I’D BEEN wondering how long it would take Republicans to realise that Paul Ryan is their guy. He’s the cutest package that cruelty ever came in. He has a winning air of sad cheerfulness.
He’s affable and clean-cut, with the Irish altar-boy widow’s peak and droopy, winsome blue eyes and unashamed sentimentality. Who better to rain misery upon the heads of millions of Americans?
He’s Scrooge disguised as a Pickwick, an ideologue disguised as a wonk. Not since Ronald Reagan tried to cut the budget by categorising ketchup and relish as vegetables has the GOP managed to find such an attractive vessel to mask harsh policies with a smiling face.
The young gun and former prom king is a fan of deer hunting, catfish noodling, heavy metal and Beethoven. He’s a great dad who says the cheese, bratwurst and beer of Wisconsin flow in his veins. He’s so easy to like – except that his politics are just a teensy bit heartless.
Rush Limbaugh hails Ryan as “the last Boy Scout”, noting that the tall, slender 42-year-old is a true believer: “We now have somebody on the ticket who’s us.” For the rest of us, at least, Ryan is not going to raise our hopes only to dash them.
Unlike W, he’s not even going to make a feint at “compassionate conservatism”. Why bother with some silly scruple or toehold of conscience? Unlike some of the right-wing ayatollahs, Ryan doesn’t threaten with moral and cultural gusts of sulphur.
He seems more like a friendly guidance counsellor who wants to teach us how to live, get us in shape, PowerPoint away the social safety net to make the less advantaged more self-reliant, as he makes the rich richer.
He’s for burning the village to save it, so we can avoid the fiscal cliff, or as he and his fellow conservative Cassandras ominously call it, “the debt bomb”.
Like Mitt Romney, Ryan truly believes he made it on his own, so everyone else can, too. He shrugs off the advantage of starting as the white guy from an affluent family, able to breeze into a summer internship for a Wisconsin Republican senator as a college student.
Only 16 and the youngest of four when he discovered his lawyer dad dead in bed from a heart attack at 55, Ryan had to grow up fast.The Midwestern kid was guided by what David Stockman calls “Irving Kristol’s ex-Trotskyites” turned neo-cons; Jack Kemp, the cheery supply-sider who actually cared about the disadvantaged, and by one of Kemp’s favourite authors, Russian emigre and cult leader Ayn (pronounced like swine, as she used to say) Rand.