PAUL RYAN: WHAT STUPID PEOPLE THINK A SMART GUY SOUNDS LIKE
At its core, Paul Ryan’s appeal is simple: He’s what stupid people think smart people sound like.
MSNBC’s commentary after the vice presidential debate in October captured the narrative pretty well: “It was Scranton Joe vs. Think Tank Ryan. Heart vs. head.” And that reputation has helped Ryan hustle his way from unimpressive legislative aide to brains of the Republican Party in a decade’s time.
His popularity among voters isn’t much of a surprise. Ryan’s good-looking and articulate. Most importantly, he can convince people there’s intellectual gravitas behind his words. It’s sort of like the Ross Perot phenomenon, a man for whom 20 million people voted in 1992. Since Perot talked like a dweeb, people assumed he had crafty, intelligent plans for the country. Plus he whipped out bar graphs from time-to-time.
And who doesn’t love a good bar graph?
Ryan likes bar graphs, too. Nevermind that his are upside down and backward and layered in shit, like his gross overstating of Medicare’s crisis and his quest to privatize the program. Whatever problems that system has can be solved by expanding the subscriber pool to include the healthy and unhealthy—not by allowing private companies to run the program for profit, which is essentially Ryan’s plan. A plan that, it should be said, isn’t based in the realities of the program, but in Ryan’s rigid adherence to free-market economic dogma.
But what’s more bizarre is Ryan’s popularity among the liberal commentariat, who have helped develop his reputation as a serious thinker worthy of sustained engagement.