Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Paul Ryan: take him very seriously, seriously!

Although Paul Ryan’s nomination was bold news on Saturday, there won’t be any of the drama that Sarah Palin generated four years ago. Sole shareholder Mitt Romney will have no trouble running the whole show. Idealistic, high-spirited Paul Ryan has been managed by his Republican elders ever since he left college.

Laid-back George W. Bush certainly didn’t have any problem running a White House full of political and campaign “giants.” Apparently, for eight years, Bush delighted in calling Vice President Dick Cheney “Big Time.” Advisor Karl Rove, the strategist that billionaires still believe walks on water, answered to the nicknames “Boy Genius” or “Turd Blossom.”

It’s too early to guess what will stick to Paul Ryan. Sooner or later, however, he’ll get tagged with a nickname more telling than “policy wonk” and less confusing than “young Republican intellectual.”

Just because he has a shallow sense of humor doesn’t mean Romney—and the rest of us—need to take Paul Ryan entirely seriously.

Isn’t there something wonderfully funny about this observation by Ryan’s New Yorker biographer Ryan Lizza about his 2010 “Road Map” fiscal plan?

“The document’s introduction referred to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, Hayek, Friedman, Adam Smith, Max Weber, Émile Durkheim, John Locke, Alexis de Tocqueville, Georges-Eugène Sorel, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Charles Murray, and Niall Ferguson. Ryan himself seemed intent on entering the canon. ‘Only by taking responsibility for oneself, to the greatest extent possible, can one ever be free,' he wrote, ‘and only a free person can make responsible choices—between right and wrong, saving and spending, giving or taking.’’’

Without mentioning Russia’s Ayn Rand, his boyhood crush, he drops the names of nine European intellectuals in a document designed to stop Barack Obama turning America into another European moral and economic swamp.

Young Congressman Ryan insists that to be free, one must take “responsibility for oneself, to the greatest extent possible.” In his cramped world, however, he’s had to make his way—and find his space—within his family business, within his family compound, with his family contacts, within the family’s politics, and in his family’s faith.

He must have read Atlas Shrugged secretly in his bedroom, with a flashlight.

Clearly, he’s exactly the kind of existential free-wheeler that family man Mitt Romney needn’t worry about.

Ryan may make Republican economics a self-defeating election issue. But neither one of them, nor the Romney-Ryan ticket, will capture the fascination Americans still have with Barack Obama.

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