Paul Ryan in ’16? Yes, please!

Back in June, as the Wisconsin Democratic Party choked and gagged on its failed recall, I remarked that the Dems had spent the weeks immediately following the election walking around like that stunned soldier looking for his arm in the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan.

Of course, now it’s the Republicans’ turn to wonder where those halcyon, fully limbed days of yore have gone. The Kenyan Bloodless Coup: Mach II is now but three weeks old, and conservatives are still busy whipping up batches of crazy batter to help feed the cold, huddled masses of Romney refugees.

One particularly rich brioche is the suggestion that Paul Ryan, the junior member of Operation 47%, is the heir apparent to the crown. All the superficial reasons, and then some, have been bandied about: He has name recognition, he’s aggressive, he will shrink the size of government, Romney is a big fan, and he has the staying power and vigor to convince senior citizens that there is a bright, calming, peaceful light at the end of the tunnel. Of course, the same can be said of Asian bird flu, but you can forgive Republicans if their excitement has gotten the better of them.

Of course, the biggest reason he’s getting consideration for ’16 is that he is the sidekick to the runner-up in this year’s election. I’ve never really understood that one. For one thing, it runs afoul of the GOP’s social Darwinian two-men-enter-one-man-leaves ethos (i.e., it rewards failure). For another, uh, when has this ever worked before? Quick, name the last candidate to lose a vice presidential election and then go on to win the presidency. Answer: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In 1920. Guess that worked out pretty well at the time, but for every FDR, there’s a Dan Quayle, a Geraldine Ferraro, and an Estes Kefauver.

So naturally, Ryan is among the top candidates from the steaming pile of carcasses constituting the modern-day GOP who are currently being given consideration to rise up and lead the 2016 zombie apocalypse. (Incredibly, Sarah Palin is another, if this accidental satirist is to be believed.)

I say, go for it, Republicans. As a Democrat, a loyal Badger, and a guy who enjoys watching this video over and over again …

… I wholeheartedly endorse a Paul Ryan candidacy. In fact, I’d like to help him out. Following are some little morsels of advice I’d like to give the man should he decide on a presidential run:

Keep blaming the loss in 2012 on the fact that too many people voted. In the wake of Obama’s victory, Ryan said, “Well, he got turnout. The president should get credit for achieving record-breaking turnout numbers from urban areas for the most part, and that did win the election for him.”

Of course, that’s not much more informative than saying, “The team that scored the most points won.” But the unstated part of that is, “Too many of the wrong people voted, and had more real Americans gotten to the polls, we would have won.” That’s fine. Ryan can proudly govern Real America for the next four years while that swarthy interloper continues to rule Usurped America.

Keep spouting vague nonsense about the budget. At no point did the Ryan/Romney budget make sense. It was half a plan at best, and the half they did talk about was pantaloons-soaking scary. My favorite critique of the original Ryan budget came from former Reagan and Bush I adviser Bruce Bartlett, who wrote, “I think Ryan has an undeserved reputation for seriousness in budget matters. The word ‘fantasy’ would better apply. As Prof. Calvin Johnson of the University of Texas law school told me, the tax side of Ryan’s plan ‘is floating in the clouds without any connection to earth or reality.’ And of course accomplishing what he hopes to do on the spending side is even more fanciful.”

Keep scaring the daylights out of women and their daughters. Wondering why President Obama took 55% of the female vote? Well, Paul Ryan’s bad Homer Simpson impression (“it’s uter-us, not uter-you”) couldn’t have helped. Were Americans prepared to elect a man who believes that 12-year-old girls who were raped by family members and became pregnant as a result should be forced to have their rapists’ children? Apparently not. And frankly, most people were probably unaware that Ryan the VP candidate thought along these lines. There’s no chance that Ryan the presidential candidate would be so lucky.


Keep admiring atheistic, altruism-hating Ayn Rand. Here’s Paul Ryan on Objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand, the folkloric hero of many an old money-slurping and parental-basement-dwelling libertarian true believer: “I grew up reading Ayn Rand, and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are and what my beliefs are. It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff.”

And now here’s Rand herself, in fine reptilian fervor: “Make no mistake about it – and tell it to your Republican friends: capitalism and altruism cannot coexist in the same man or in the same society.”

Keep appealing to the people who know you least and turning off the people who know you best. When Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan, he hoped the selection would balance the ticket (handsome, lantern-jawed conservative plutocrat vs. handsome, lantern-jawed conservative plutocrat with hair parted on the other side), but he was also no doubt hoping Ryan would deliver the electoral votes of a winnable swing state (i.e., ours). Unfortunately, not only did Ryan fail to nail down Wisconsin, he failed to win his own hometown. In fact, in Janesville, Obama/Biden outpolled Romney/Ryan by a stunning 62% to 37%. Tough losses, indeed. To quote another Simpsons stalwart, Ralph Wiggum, “Ohhh, they taste like burning.

Keep pretending you scratched and clawed your way up from a burger-flipping job to a seat in Congress in roughly a decade with no help from anyone. If there was one Ryan trait that was underemphasized during the campaign, it was his astonishing blindness toward the privilege some in this country are born with and the obstacles others are forced to overcome. To wit, here’s Ryan’s unique take on the American dream:

“I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, you know, when I was flippin’ burgers at McDonald’s, when I was standing in front of that big Hobart machine washing dishes or waiting tables, I never thought of myself as stuck in some station in life. I thought to myself, I’m the American dream on a path and journey so that I can find happiness however I can find it myself.”

What he’s leaving out, of course, is his hefty inheritance and his family’s construction company, which amassed its wealth largely through government contracts.

The Daily Kos’ Laura Clawson summed up Ryan’s Wrangler Jean workingman attitude best when she wrote the following:

That is some optimistic, forward-looking, Grade-A American Dream bull**** right there. Because again, Paul Ryan’s stints at service work came between high school and the year or two immediately out of college, and in that year or two immediately out of college, he was already working on the Hill. Stuck? He was on “a path and journey” to be in Congress by the time he was 28 years old! And before he got there, he had a year working in marketing for his family’s construction firm.

Paul Ryan may have learned important things from low-wage work. But one thing he definitely didn’t learn from low-wage work was what it’s like to face a lifetime of low-wage work, what it’s like to try to build a life and support a family while working at McDonald’s.

So yes, Republicans, please do pick Paul Ryan as your savior in 2016. Everyone knows that sequels and remakes are always better than the originals. Without question, Ryan ’16 would be the GOP’s golden ticket to the promised land. By all means, make it so.

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