Now that Mitt Romney has nominated Wisconsin Republican Congressman/deficit hawk/ grown up Eddie Munster Paul Ryan to be his running mate as the two ride their gilded golf carts and sail boats and other rich people means of conveyance toward the White House, pundits hope the campaign will Get Serious. Ryan's a numbers guy, a budget nerd, an econo-face, they say, who will steer debate away from silly things like women's health and back to serious things like jobs and the economy. Which is a shame, because while the economy is important, it's much more fun to talk about insane shit. And Ryan, despite his obsession with deficit, has a surplus of crazy.
1. He doesn't believe in global warming.
As someone much factier than I once said: jury's still out on science.
2. Personhood. Yeah, he's one of those.
Personhood, or granting the full rights of citizenship to fertilized embryos, is an idea so patently absurd that the Oklahoma Supreme Court referred to it as "clearly unconstitutional" in a unanimous decision to bar a Personhood referendum from the state's ballots this fall. Mississippi, the most conservative state in the US, rejected personhood resoundingly last fall. Colorado's rejected it twice, and will probably reject it again when it's put up to a vote for the third time.
Anyway, Ryan loves personhood. He loves the idea that life begins before pregnancy begins, when the sperm touches the egg. Because, to paraphrase Amanda Marcotte, sperm is magic. Ryan loves personhood so much that he cosponsored legislation that would have defined "person" as any human tissue from the moment of conception, which would have completely outlawed abortion and probably outlawed most forms of birth control and IVF.
3. His big, splashy idea is to replace Medicare with coupons.
I know my grandma loves coupons, but that doesn't mean she wants to get her health care that way. Ryan's big budget plan, which he unveiled last spring to a chorus of approving harumphs from the right wing intelligentsia (thanks to the Tea Party's Yee Haw! I'm Stupid! platform, there are now only approximately 2 people who call themselves right wing intellectuals, and one of them is a college freshman) and a chorus of What The Fuck Are You Even Doing Jesus Christ?s from the center and left. Central to his plan to trim $4.3 trillion from the deficit is a brutal slashing of Medicare as we know it, replacing the more efficiently managed government program with vouchers that seniors can use to buy their own insurance from private insurers, a move the Congressional Budget Office predicted would raise the cost of health care for senior citizens by about $6,000 apiece.
4. Not even the bishops like him.
Ryan's Catholic, and while his views on vagina regulation align just about exactly with the Church's stance, his views on the poor (Cliff's notes version: Fuck you, poors!) have run him afoul of religious leaders, even the traditionally very conservative US Council of Catholic Bishops. His suggestion that food stamps be cut in order to support tax cuts for corporations and millionaires was so egregious to one group of nuns that they went on a cross country bus tour to protest him. If Romney thinks Obama has declared War on Religion by compelling employers to pay for birth control, then why did he just pick a running mate that would compel all taxpayers to pay for millionaire tax cuts? What was it that Jesus said about camels going through the eye of a needle?
5. He believes that fertilized embryos are people, but he doesn't seem to believe that women are people.
Remember the "Let Women Die" act that passed the House last fall? The law that would have allowed hospitals to refuse, on moral grounds, to provide abortions to women even if they were at risk of imminent death? Ryan was a big fan of that. And, as Anna pointed out this weekend, in a pro-life essay Ryan penned, he doesn't mention the word "mother" or "woman" once.
6. The whole Ayn Rand thing
Former Jezebel staffer Moe Tkacik once referred to Ayn Rand as the literary equivalent of a mother who spends years telling her painfully average son that he's the specialest special who ever did special and then sending them out into the dating world. While Rand's objectivism as a philosophy is sort of interesting, men who look up to Ayn Rand are almost invariably insufferable sociopaths who feel validated by Rand's poorly written prose, and are usually terrible in bed. Ryan has credited Rand, who believes that selfishness is a virtue and that altruism is a sin, with inspiring him to enter politics. But before Ryan builds the underwater Bioshock-esque world of his dreams, let's hope someone informs him that Rand was a virulent atheist and a big fan of abortion.
Here are Rand's own words on the subject:
An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn).
Abortion is a moral right-which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?
Can't write more on this. Head exploding. Brain sliding down wall in slimy grey fragments.
7. He is besmirching the good name of Ryan.
Not that the Ryan name in politics isn't plenty besmirched (looking at you, currently incarcerated former Illinois Governor George Ryan), but I'd be in remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to point out that despite the fact that my last name is also Ryan and I am from Wisconsin, I'm not related to Paul. In fact, for a few years, I've considered making RYANS AGAINST RYAN tee shirts, but then decided against it since RYANS AGAINST RYAN sounds kind of like the title of a gay porn involving three dudes named Ryan, plus Ryan isn't even my family's Congressman. That honor goes to Sean Duffy, who first rose to national prominence as The Real World: Boston's resident lumberjack. Wisconsin's a goofy place.
8. The time he had people arrested and kicked out of his town hall meeting for asking questions he didn't like.
Ryan is a man after Romney's negative press-avoiding heart. In fact, Ryan's fear of confrontation is nearly pathological. Back in 2011, he had a woman kicked out of one of his "meet the plebes" meetings because she dared ask the following question:
Our debt is out of control because of the tax cuts you're giving…Our unemployment in 2003 was 6.2% before the tax cuts went through. Now our unemployment rate is 9.1%. What are you doing to create jobs, Congressman?
To her point, Ryan believes that the key to creating jobs is to reduce the size of the government and the national debt. But to the question answer's point, an awful lot of people work for the government, and a promise to reduce the size of government is akin to promising to cut a bunch of jobs. Awkward.
9. Ryan thinks that college is a thing only rich people should be doing. Like sex.
Under Ryan's plan, a million needy students would be knocked off of Pell Grants over the course of 10 years. It's probably best that we don't educate The Poors. That way, they never know exactly to what extent they're getting fucked.