Jane Mayer points out that Ayn Rand has joined Romney and Ryan on the Republican ticket. Rand -- get this for excitement! -- is a woman and a dead woman at that. What a ticket! Lately, however, as Mayer points out, Paul Ryan is trying to distance himself from Rand "whose atheism," as Mayer puts it " is something of a philosophical wedge issue on the right, dividing religious conservatives from free-market libertarians."
This year, with his political profile rising, Ryan stressed not only that he had differences with Rand’s atheism—a point he had made as far back as 2003—but went so far as to denounce her whole system of beliefs, describing his early attraction to her writing as little more than a youthful dalliance. He admitted that he had “enjoyed her novels,” but, as Mak notes, he stressed that, “I reject her philosophy. It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas.”
Ryan’s sidestep from Rand was politically essential. As a Mormon, the last thing Romney needs is to alienate the Christian Right further by putting an acolyte of an atheist on the ticket. So it was not surprising that Romney made a point of stressing Ryan’s Catholicism during his announcement of Ryan today, introducing him as, “A faithful Catholic” who “believes in the dignity and worth of every life.”
While Ryan may be distancing himself from Rand now, the Democrats will surely argue that her views on the virtues of selfishness have left a more lasting legacy in the policies that he and Romney embrace. In his début today, Ryan stressed that “We promise equal opportunity—not equal outcomes”—a philosophy that telegraphed a tough message to those who are worst off. Ryan also signalled a Rand-like celebration of the winners, and dismissed complaints from the losers, saying, “We look at one another’s success with pride, not resentment.” Rand’s language was tougher still. She used words such as “refuse” and “parasites” to describe the poor, while celebrating millionaire businessmen as heroes. ...New Yorker
It's going to be interesting to watch the innards of the Republican party roil as they have been roiling since the tea party became an awkward and demanding addition to "conservatism." Some of the truer conservatives reside at American Conservative magazine, often a good read and a helpful window into the other camp.
Daniel Larison, at least, isn't jumping up and down about Ryan. He agrees that the Romney-Ryan ticket is "shockingly inexperienced," in foreign policy and military service. And he doesn't seem very excited about Ryan's narrow views and close-minded (I'd say "arrogant") attitude.
There has probably not been a ticket this lacking in foreign policy experience since Dewey-Warren. Then again, the same would have been true of almost any Republican ticket this year. While Ryan is even less experienced than most, all of Romney’s most likely choices were noticeably lacking in this area. There has been a shift in the relative political strengths of the two parties, so perhaps it’s not so strange that the Republican ticket would be the one so heavily inclined towards domestic policy. Perhaps this is a concession that Romney and his advisers know that they are going to be at a disadvantage on foreign policy no matter what they do, so they may as well not even try to compete.
If there isn’t much to Ryan’s foreign policy, what we do know of his views isn’t encouraging. His Alexander Hamilton Society speech was standard neoconservatism complete with heavy reliance on Krauthammer’s “decline is a choice” argument, and he remains opposed to any reductions in military spending. He is a product of the Bush era, and in his foreign policy views he seems to have learned nothing from Bush era mistakes. ...American Conservative
In a separate piece, Larison shows himself to -- doesn't it look this way? -- really dislike Ryan.
He has been reliably hawkish in his voting in the House throughout his career. I assume that anyone taking cues from Charles Krauthammer supports what Scott and I would regard as an excessively hawkish foreign policy, and I don’t know of anything Ryan has ever said or done that would make me think otherwise. Ryan’s record of fiscal irresponsibility when Bush was in office doesn’t give me a lot of confidence on the second point, and his support for increased military spending gives us another reason to assume that Ryan considers the military budget essentially off limits. Scott is right that “serious concern about America’s fiscal state almost precludes support for an excessively hawkish foreign policy,” but so far when those two have been in conflict Ryan has favored the latter rather than the former. There may be other good things to say about the Ryan choice, but Ryan’s foreign policy isn’t one of them.
Update: Ryan was rattling off boilerplate hawkish talking points to Robert Costa three years ago. He described the “reset” as appeasement, and criticized Obama as “Nixonian” for not being enough of an activist on human rights. He didn’t forget to complain about Obama’s response to the Green movement: “The movement against the regime there is seen by Obama as nothing more than a group of meddling protestors who are getting in the way of cutting a deal with the mullahs. The brave Iranians who are fighting for freedom and democracy have just been disregarded by this administration.” It’s as if he’s doing a bad Pawlenty impression. ...American Conservative
What's interesting, looking at this picture from the other side, is the extent to which Bush by now has been discredited by his own party, though mostly discreetly. Also an eyecatcher is the view of Paul Ryan as one of those glossy cardboard cut-outs that won't do well on a rainy day.
Also it's interesting how the rest of the gang of idjits the Republicans put up this year have now gone from being verbs and nouns to be unattractive adjectives. A pawlenty Ryan. Ugly! Ugly!