In the kingdom of the blind, they say, the one-eyed man is king. And so it is perhaps inevitable that outgoing House Speaker Paul “Paulie PowerPoint” Ryan should be considered a brain by a country as anti-intellectual as the United States. This is based on his fondness for the Objectivist, everyman-for-himself theories of Ayn Rand, a poor philosopher and an even poorer novelist (“The Fountainhead,” “Atlas Shrugged”) whose characters are basically stand-in for her bloated ideas.
Thus Ryan’s not really much of a Brainiac but then, he has always given the appearance of being something he is not. He talks a lot about spending time now with his family – and he’s kidding no one, since his kids are teenagers, a notoriously anti-parental group – but he has no interest in your family. He has always been big on gutting entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid, even though he received survivor Medicare benefits that fueled his college education when his father died of a heart attack during Ryan’s teens.
He flipped burgers at McDonald’s; helped care for a grandmother who had Alzheimer’s; bolstered his single mother when she went back to school. Blah, blah, blah. Look, suffering can make you strong, smart and compassionate or it can make you tough, brittle and obtuse. Ryan never saw his suffering in that of others. So the day never arrived when he could he see their suffering in his own. Sure, he faced challenges. Most people do. But many don’t have the opportunities he’s had. All the more reason to cut them some slack.
But he didn’t. And now we can’t for him. Ryan could’ve stood up to President Donald J. Trumpet while still working with him to get the best deal for the American people. He could’ve Chuck and Nancy-ed him. But instead he chose to water down his criticism and straddle the fence. And when you do that, you end up taking no position and going nowhere.
I, for one, will not be sorry to see him go. But I can’t imagine he’ll be gone for long. A few years of playing dad – translation: waiting out Trump – and he’ll be back in the game. His ego’s too Rand-ian to keep him sidelined for long.