Friday, May 27, 2011

Paul Ryan's Genius

I was jogging last night listening to last Sunday’s Meet the Press, and Paul Ryan was the lead interview. (I’m in training, and try to jog regularly.) Later on that night, while smoking a cigar coupled with Coronas and eating hotdogs (another aspect of my training), I was hit with the realization that Ryan’s fucking with me. Well, America at large, but I’m taking it personal; he actually taunted me on Sunday morning. Here’s how:

The previous week, Newt Gingrich didn’t mince words in saying that Ryan’s plan amounted to “right-wing, social engineering.” He took a ton of flak, and had to completely backtrack a couple days later. So there it is – Paul Ryan’s plan isn’t social engineering. It’s simply a plan, an idea for how to approach Medicare and get costs under control. It’s a proposal a lot of people disagree with, other people support, and in sum defines a starting position to negotiate from. Done and done.

Or so I thought. When Ryan comes onto Meet the Press, host David Gregory launches into an attack on how unpopular the plan is with people, forcing Ryan to defend his actions. Ryan could’ve simply responded that this is a starting point, that of course it will be molded to take into consideration the concerns of the American people, and that he will be taking those concerns into account as he gets the chance to talk to his constituents about it. He could’ve simply said, “there is no other plan on the table. Here’s my plan. Until someone introduces a better one, this is what America needs.”

At first this is what Ryan does. There’re the usual political talking points about it being 700-some-odd days of Democrats failing to pass a budget, lack of leadership from the White House, blah blah… Then, something crazy happens. Ryan continues his attack on leadership by exclaiming leaders are elected to lead. I don't consult polls to tell me what my principles are or what our policies should be. Leaders change the polls.

There’s a lot of extraneous to unpack in the above, from mocking Gingrich’s ‘if you quote me directly and in context, you’re a liar’ to the fact that Republicans controlled both Houses and the White House for a couple thousand days without passing a budget. These aren’t my takeaways though. It’s the fact that Ryan was accused of right-wing, social engineering, everyone in the Republican party made Gingrich retract the statement, and one week later, on the same show, at the same time, sitting in the same chair, Ryan says leadership isn’t doing what the American people want – leadership is engineering polls of the American people to go along with what you want. I don’t think it’s simply ironic; it’s taunting. Paul Ryan is actively taunting me, and no one has caught on. He’s going to get away with it, because he knows he can. What’s more, there’s no political advantage to taunting people at a level above their heads. I honestly believe he’s only doing it to derive some smug satisfaction from manipulating people dumber than him. I gotta hand it to’m – that Paul Ryan is one clever bastard.

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