That’s Paul Ryan’s official new title, granted by Charles Pierce, the one political commentator you must read this election season. He’s got Ryan pegged.
Paul Ryan is an authentically dangerous zealot. He does not want to reform entitlements. He wants to eliminate them. He wants to eliminate them because he doesn’t believe they are a legitimate function of government. He is a smiling, aw-shucks murderer of opportunity, a creator of dystopias in which he never will have to live. This now is an argument not over what kind of political commonwealth we will have, but rather whether or not we will have one at all, because Paul Ryan does not believe in the most primary institution of that commonwealth: our government. The first three words of the Preamble to the Constitution make a lie out of every speech he’s ever given. He looks at the country and sees its government as something alien that is holding down the individual entrepreneurial genius of 200 million people, and not as their creation, and the vehicle through which that genius can be channelled for the general welfare.
The other appalling thing about Ryan is how much the media is puling about how smart he is, and calling him a brilliant policy wonk (also hammered on by Pierce). Ryan is a guy with a bachelor’s degree in economics whose entire career is defined by political gladhanding and devotion to far-right ideological nonsense. He’s not particularly well-qualified; a BA is a degree that gives you a general knowledge of the basics of a field, and it’s a good thing, but it does not turn you into an expert. Ryan’s degree in economics is worth about as much as Bobby Jindal’s degree in biology.
OK, one other guy you should listen to: Paul Krugman.
What [Saletan]’s doing – and what the whole Beltway media crowd has done – is to slot Ryan into a role someone is supposed to be playing in their political play, that of the thoughtful, serious conservative wonk. In reality, Ryan is nothing like that; he’s a hard-core conservative, with a voting record as far right as Michelle Bachman’s, who has shown no competence at all on the numbers thing.
What Ryan is good at is exploiting the willful gullibility of the Beltway media, using a soft-focus style to play into their desire to have a conservative wonk they can say nice things about. And apparently the trick still works.
That’s the painful spectacle we’re going to be suffering through for the next few months: Mitt Romney pretending to be a human capable of empathy, and Paul Ryan pretending to be serious and intelligent. And the media will play right along.