PAUL RYAN: WHAT STUPID PEOPLE THINK A SMART GUY SOUNDS LIKE
By Bhaskar Sunkara

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.
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PAUL RYAN: WHAT STUPID PEOPLE THINK A SMART GUY SOUNDS LIKE

By Bhaskar Sunkara

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.

Revisiting Paul Ryan’s Crazy-Ass Path to Prosperity Plan

Revisiting Paul Ryan’s Crazy-Ass Path to Prosperity Plan

Paul Ryan, All-American Teenager
Hey, have you guys heard about this Paul Ryan character yet? He sure is divisive! Just a few short days after he was announced as Mitt Romney’s running mate he’s become one of the Top Things To Have An Opinion On—“I like this Paul Ryan,” you might hear someone say. “He is attractive and good with numbers and if I were a gay fella… Well, say no more.” Another opinion might be: “Boy, howdy! This Paul Ryan makes me angry because of his many views! Time to write a listicle to persuade all the Jezebel readers not to vote for him despite his small-town charm and good looks!”
For the next few days (or “news cycles,” as they are called in the political world, a land where it is always 11 AM and cloudy and everything tastes like ashes and pain), Ryan is going to have his whole life examined to a horrifying degree. Hours after the announcement, we were already reading Yelp reviews of the Mexican restaurant where he used to work. Every controversial vote he took part in, every stock trade he made, all of it will be paraded in front of the segment of the population that cares. Ryan will be judged and a verdict (or several) will be reached. But I think we are being a bit too hard on him, because he is just a teenager, after all. Yes, Paul Ryan is just a normal teenager, if perhaps a late-blooming one. My evidence:
HE LOVES AYN RANDOK, I know, he denounced Ayn Rand this week, but her writing still clearly informs his worldview. Just like it takes some kids a while to get over the romanticism of Kerouac, I think Ryan is still carrying a torch for Objectivism. For teenagers, Rand is great because she reinforces their belief that their desires are the most important thing in the world, and she pisses off liberal parents with her pro-capitalism and religious ones with her atheism. Sooner or later, most people recognize that she fails to acknowledge moral shades of gray and is also an enormously shit writer (sample line: “She saw the look of the luminous gaiety which transcends the great innocence of a man who has earned the right to be light-hearted.”) and they sort of quit her, or tone it down at least.
HE WORKS OUT A LOTHell yeah, bro. Look at those ‘ceps. GTL, am I right? His workout obsession is a little worrying, actually, because teenaged boys who work out all the time are the worst pieces of shit in the universe. If we send him to China on a diplomatic mission, he’s going to keep slapping drinks out of important peoples’ hands for fun (“Look alive, bro!”) and back some poor wife of an official into a corner to tell her all about his core routine.
HE’S INTO LED ZEPPELINThe most amusing moment in a father’s life is when his 16-year-old son goes, “Hey dad, did you know about this band Led Zeppelin? They’re amazing!” Then follows what Americans have instead of Vision Quests or other rites of passage: a solid six months to a year during which the young man spends all of his time alone in his room listening to Led Zep over and over trying to decipher the meaningless lyrics a drug-addled Robert Plant came up with 40 years ago. It’s a gateway to either better music or airbrushed cars. I hope Ryan chooses wisely.
Continue

Paul Ryan, All-American Teenager

Hey, have you guys heard about this Paul Ryan character yet? He sure is divisive! Just a few short days after he was announced as Mitt Romney’s running mate he’s become one of the Top Things To Have An Opinion On—“I like this Paul Ryan,” you might hear someone say. “He is attractive and good with numbers and if I were a gay fella… Well, say no more.” Another opinion might be: “Boy, howdy! This Paul Ryan makes me angry because of his many views! Time to write a listicle to persuade all the Jezebel readers not to vote for him despite his small-town charm and good looks!”

For the next few days (or “news cycles,” as they are called in the political world, a land where it is always 11 AM and cloudy and everything tastes like ashes and pain), Ryan is going to have his whole life examined to a horrifying degree. Hours after the announcement, we were already reading Yelp reviews of the Mexican restaurant where he used to work. Every controversial vote he took part in, every stock trade he made, all of it will be paraded in front of the segment of the population that cares. Ryan will be judged and a verdict (or several) will be reached. But I think we are being a bit too hard on him, because he is just a teenager, after all. Yes, Paul Ryan is just a normal teenager, if perhaps a late-blooming one. My evidence:

HE LOVES AYN RAND
OK, I know, he denounced Ayn Rand this week, but her writing still clearly informs his worldview. Just like it takes some kids a while to get over the romanticism of Kerouac, I think Ryan is still carrying a torch for Objectivism. For teenagers, Rand is great because she reinforces their belief that their desires are the most important thing in the world, and she pisses off liberal parents with her pro-capitalism and religious ones with her atheism. Sooner or later, most people recognize that she fails to acknowledge moral shades of gray and is also an enormously shit writer (sample line: “She saw the look of the luminous gaiety which transcends the great innocence of a man who has earned the right to be light-hearted.”) and they sort of quit her, or tone it down at least.

HE WORKS OUT A LOT
Hell yeah, bro. Look at those ‘ceps. GTL, am I right? His workout obsession is a little worrying, actually, because teenaged boys who work out all the time are the worst pieces of shit in the universe. If we send him to China on a diplomatic mission, he’s going to keep slapping drinks out of important peoples’ hands for fun (“Look alive, bro!”) and back some poor wife of an official into a corner to tell her all about his core routine.

HE’S INTO LED ZEPPELIN
The most amusing moment in a father’s life is when his 16-year-old son goes, “Hey dad, did you know about this band Led Zeppelin? They’re amazing!” Then follows what Americans have instead of Vision Quests or other rites of passage: a solid six months to a year during which the young man spends all of his time alone in his room listening to Led Zep over and over trying to decipher the meaningless lyrics a drug-addled Robert Plant came up with 40 years ago. It’s a gateway to either better music or airbrushed cars. I hope Ryan chooses wisely.

Continue