I don’t know if don’t know if any of you noticed – what with all the important discussion you had last week about how Tod Akin and Niall Ferguson have teeny, tiny balls and no dicks – but Maureen Dowd really, really hates Paul Ryan, with a ferocity which suggests either that he dumped her three hours before the prom or, more likely perhaps, didn’t call after that blowjob under the bleachers at Homecoming.
Now, we all know that in a few months Maureen will go back to stealing people’s lunch money and mocking Democrats for being nancy lah lahs and pooves, but when the queen bitch of the school gets her claws out at someone other than you it’s worth savouring.
He’s the cutest package that cruelty ever came in. He has a winning air of sad cheerfulness. He’s affable, clean cut and really cut, with the Irish altar-boy widow’s peak and droopy, winsome blue eyes and unashamed sentimentality.
Who better to rain misery upon the heads of millions of Americans?
He’s Scrooge disguised as a Pickwick, an ideologue disguised as a wonk. Not since Ronald Reagan tried to cut the budget by categorizing ketchup and relish as vegetables has the G.O.P. managed to find such an attractive vessel to mask harsh policies with a smiling face.
The Young Gun and former prom king is a fan of deer hunting, catfish noodling, heavy metal and Beethoven. He’s a great dad who says the cheese, bratwurst and beer of Wisconsin flow in his veins. He’s so easy to like — except that his politics are just a teensy bit heartless.
Rush Limbaugh hails Ryan as “the last Boy Scout,” noting that the tall, slender 42-year-old is a true believer: “We now have somebody on the ticket who’s us.”
Maureen then proceeds to describe Ryan as “like a friendly guidance counselor who wants to teach us how to live, get us in shape, PowerPoint away the social safety net to make the less advantaged more self-reliant, as he makes the rich richer”. She smears his particular brand of prudish, hypocritical pseudo-Randianiam all over him and it’s good, although her heart doesn’t really seem to be in it until she lets fly in her last few paragraphs:
Although the Catholic Ryan told Fox News’s Brit Hume in an interview that aired Tuesday night that he “completely disagreed” with Rand’s “atheistic philosophy,” he said his interest in economics was “triggered” by her.
His long infatuation with her makes him seem even younger than he looks with his cowlick because Randism is a state of arrested adolescence, making its disciples feel like heroic teenagers atop a lofty mountain peak.
The secretive, ambiguous Romney was desperate for ideological clarity, so he outsourced his political identity to Ryan, a numbers guy whose numbers don’t add up.
This just proves that Romney will never get over his anxiety about not being conservative enough. As president, he’d still feel the need to prove himself with right-wing Supreme Court picks.
Ryan should stop being so lovable. People who intend to hurt other people should wipe the smile off their faces.
Now, aside from the florid prose (something about which I am hardly permitted to complain) and the ridiculous suggestion that Romney would have the slightest hesitation before appointing someone to the right of Antonin Scalia’s older, crankier brother Fredo to the Supreme Court, I thought that was a pretty good effort. Well worth reading, especially as the page ends with those most wonderful words “Thomas L. Friedman is off today.”
However, one week later it becomes clear that Maureen was just warming up.
Tom Morello, the Grammy-winning, Harvard-educated guitarist for the metal rap band Rage Against the Machine, punctured Paul Ryan’s pretensions to cool in a Rolling Stone essay rejecting R&R (Romney ’n’ Ryan) as R&R (rock ’n’ roll).
“He is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades,” Morello writes, adding: “I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta ‘rage’ in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically, the only thing he’s not raging against is the privileged elite he’s groveling in front of for campaign contributions.”
In my experience, when a presidential candidate needs some outside force to animate him — Michael Dukakis needed Kitty, Bob Dole needed C-Span, Willard needs Paul — it spells doom.
The fresh Gen X vice-presidential contender — like Sarah Palin, he favors the exclamation “awesome” — has had mixed reviews in his debutante cotillion.
Now that is quality bitchiness. Notice how she pivots off the Morello quote, with a perfect non sequitur (Romney as automaton) with double loser (Romney is Dole and, gasp, Dukakis – she’ll be calling him History’s Greatest Monster before the month is out), and then straight into a fine “My, isn’t he young?” with added Palin, and then sticks the dismount with that wonderfully nasty “debutante cotillion”.
I may have watched too much gymnastics during the Olympics, by the way.
You can tell Maureen is enjoying herself. There is blood on the mats, and the screaming of the crowd and the whimper of her victim in her ears. She goes in for the kill with her bluntest knives.
Howard Fineman wrote in The Huffington Post that “Ryan turns out, upon closer inspection, not to be a purifying ideologue, but rather a young, power-hungry, ladder-climbing trimmer.” The self-styled deficit cutter backed W.’s deficit-exploding agenda, and the tut-tutting critic of the Obama stimulus grabbed for the president’s stimulus money.
Neocons and Tea Partyers, however, continued to rhapsodize. Grover Norquist told Bloomberg’s Al Hunt that Ryan would be the Dick Cheney of economic and tax policy. And that’s a compliment.
Paul Ryan felt that in the gut.
Note in this next part how masterfully Maureen pauses to namecheck Dan Quayle and the lost Romney-spawn (Pratt Romney?), before returning to her “Paul Ryan is a Dick” thing.
The comparison is apt. Ryan looks like a bonus Romney son, as Dan Quayle did with Bush senior. Republicans find the tableau of two rich white guys — same shirts, different generations — comforting. With W. and Cheney, the usual order switched and the vice-presidential candidate played the role of surrogate dad.
Where Ryan is like Cheney is in tone: at first blush, the Wisconsin congressman emanates a thoughtful, reassuring reasonableness, talking to reporters and sometimes Democratic lawmakers. Cheney’s deep voice, like the headmaster of a boys’ prep school, seemed moderate and measured, too, at first. But it is deceptive. Both men are way, way out there.
It is, to use a phrase coined by French doctors, la belle indifférence, or “the beautiful calm” of hysterical people. But the closer you look, the uglier it gets.
Paul Ryan is an ugly, French Dick Cheney. And a Monet to boot.
Now her victim is on the canvas, Maureen gives up the supple nastiness of the last few sections. Now it’s just close body blows, in under the ribs with the knuckles, one after another:
Just as Cheney, hunter of small birds and old friends, once defended cop-killer bullets and plastic guns that could slip through airport metal detectors, so Ryan, deer hunter, championed concealed guns and curtailing the background check waiting period from three days to one.
Just as Cheney was always willing to cough up money to guerrillas in Nicaragua and Angola but not to poor women whose lives were endangered by their pregnancies, so Ryan helped pay for W.’s endless wars while pushing endless anti-abortion bills, like one undercutting an exemption from the ban on using federal money for abortions in cases of rape or incest, and narrowing the definition of rape to “forcible rape.”
What on earth is nonforcible rape? It’s like saying nonlethal murder. Why redefine acts of aggression against women as non-acts of aggression?
Even Catholic bishops, who had to be dragged toward compassion in the pedophilia scandal, were dismayed at how uncompassionate Ryan’s budget was.
“Even Catholic bishops…” How low have you gone when people are judging you by the standards of Catholic bishops?
I was wondering when we’d get to the Catholics, by the way. Do we catch a glimpse in this next bit, perhaps, of Maureen the starry-eyed school girl – now, older and made cynical by disappointment, spitting out the words as she types, but then, back at Immaculata High, still in the midst of her moist, yet innocent, crush on both Jesus and Father Ryan, the chaplain, who was also a carpenter and so good with a lathe, and who talked about justice and changing the world?
Mitt Romney expects his running mate to help deliver the Catholic vote and smooth over any discomfort among Catholics about Mormonism. (This is the first major-party ticket to go Protestant-less.) Yet after Ryan claimed his budget was shaped by his faith, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops deemed it immoral.
“A just spending bill cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor and vulnerable persons,” the bishops wrote in a letter to Congress.
The Jesuits were even more tart, with one group writing to Ryan that “Your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The nuns-on-the-bus also rapped the knuckles of the former altar boy who now takes his three kids to Mass. As Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of the Catholic social justice group Network, told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, it’s sad that a Catholic doesn’t understand that “we need to have each other’s backs. Only wealthy people can ever begin to pretend that they can live in a gated community all by themselves.”
Even Ryan’s former parish priest in Janesville weighed in. Father Stephen Umhoefer told the Center for Media and Democracy, “You can’t tell somebody that in 10 years your economic situation is going to be just wonderful because meanwhile your kids may starve to death.”
Beyond the even-keeled Ryan mien lurks full-tilt virulence. A moderate demeanor is not a sign of a moderate view of the world.
I need a cigarette.