Republicans across the fruited plains are hopping mad at Paul Ryan.
This is understandable in light of the House Speaker’s supporting a pseudo-budgetary bill which, among other things, funds Syrian refugee resettlement, bankrolls sanctuary cities for illegal aliens, quadruples work visas issued foreigners, allows tax credits for those in the country unlawfully, and expands our national deficit.
This legislation easily passed the House, much delighting the President, his administrative officials, their party’s apparatchiks, and Democratic congressional leadership. A majority of House Republicans voted against the bill, but Ryan secured enough ‘opposition’ votes to push it through.
In certain respects, his actions are far from surprising. For years on end, he has been a supporter of radically increased immigration and assorted pet projects of the cheap labor lobby. Ryan’s professed mission to shrink government is curious since he has held a well-paying public sector job for the over-whelming majority of his adult life.
That may explain his stealth advocacy of corporate welfare and pay increases for congresspersons. Hypocrisy is a game the Speaker plays quite well.
Regarding matters Ryan is willing to contest the opposition party on, do not count on his deal-making acumen; at least insofar as captivating others is concerned. Rewind more than three years to his vice presidential debate with Joe Biden.
Whether the topic at hand pertained to fiscal, foreign, or social policy, Biden was the man whose answers you were most likely to remember. Many pundits made an issue out of his smirking between questions, but this was likely forgotten by undecided voters.
What they were all but certain to recall, though, was the Vice President’s speaking with, rather than at or over, them. On numerous occasions, he articulated his ideas about the tough issues directly to the audience. Insofar as Medicare and Social Security were concerned, this surely paid off in dividends.
Biden’s ability to relate with prospective voters who are light on policy knowledge but extremely concerned about policy itself was nothing short of remarkable. Even though more than a bit of what he said was out of alignment with the facts, he articulated his beliefs in an earnest, if not heartfelt, manner.
The same cannot be said for Ryan.
During the debate’s early stages, he seemed a bit uncomfortable. Ryan spoke in clipped sentences and, more often than not, sounded as if he were reading from a postgraduate economics textbook. His answers were probably more factual than Biden’s, but if most could not understand what he was talking about, then who cares?
Ryan also responded to Martha Raddatz’s powerful question concerning abortion rights in a horrid fashion. Instead of simply restating Mitt Romney’s moderate remarks, he negated to specify if pro-choice Americans should worry about whether abortion would remain legal under a Romney-Ryan administration.
Biden soon stepped in and explained the likelihood of this. His case was tremendously convincing, much to the Republican ticket’s detriment.
On substance alone, neither campaign could walk away claiming a decisive victory. Both Biden and Ryan unwittingly publicized their unique professional weaknesses. The former, however, was able to gloss over these with a curious blend of inspiring rhetoric and smooth talk.
Seeing as this is what makes the political world go ‘round, it is clear why Ryan finds success speaking about minute details of legislation.
At the same time, he cannot popularize his ideas to voters outside his district. Even there, the man lost his hometown of Janesville, not to mention Wisconsin, against Obama-Biden. In the smokey backroom, Ryan apparently gains zero charisma. His partisan opponents make demands and he acquiesces to them against the will of his caucus, not to mention voters who back it.
This says nothing of Ryan agreeing with the Democratic mainstream on certain issues, no shortage of which the budget bill pertains to.
No surprise momentum for a primary against him is picking up steam. I support a robust challenge to Ryan for the same reasons I opposed his becoming Speaker. Hopefully most Republicans in his district are on the same page.
Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org