Congressman Paul Ryan on Ayn Rand from today’s LA Times story on the novelist’s influence on the new Veep candidate:
“The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand. And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.” [snip]
“What’s unique about what’s happening today in government, in the world, in America, is that it’s as if we’re living in an Ayn Rand novel right now. I think Ayn Rand did the best job of anybody to build a moral case of capitalism, and that morality of capitalism is under assault.”
I think the story is just short of being a smear using guilt by association. Sure, it is interesting and newsworthy to know the intellectual influences of politicians. But the LA Times is clearly taking a very small thing among the millions of things Ryan has said and trying to brand him an extremist: “Rand was a nutter, Ryan thought Rand was pretty ok, Ryan must be a nutter too and thus unfit to lead the country (or actually, to be a heartbeat away as the cliché goes).” If this were true, millions and millions would be unacceptable on this basis alone.
Too bad Ryan has actually governed far more moderately than Ayn and other limited government folks would have liked. Indeed, one might argue that Ryan is more Reagan than Rand since the Gipper too liked to tap into the classical liberal pantheon and use its language while governing pretty moderately. So he’s clearly operating within the 40 yard lines of American politics.
See this Reason piece on all the very unRandian things Ryan has supported; here is a juicy quotation from it (though Rand wouldn’t have disapproved of his hawkishness):
Libertarians, meanwhile, should find it easy to reject Ryan. He’s a hawk with a rotten record on civil liberties: bad on the Patriot Act, bad on indefinite detentions, bad on surveillance, bad on the border fence, bad on the drug war. On the economic front, he has backed the bank and auto bailouts, Medicare Part D, even Davis-Bacon. His reputation as a free-market stalwart rests on his exaggerated reputation as a budget hawk and his habit of praising Ayn Rand. The second of those clearly hasn’t meant much when it’s time to vote on legislation . . .
More on the pick later.