The comical cult of Paul Ryan

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Not since LeBron James announced “The Decision” to “take my talents to South Beach” have so many Americans waited with bated breath for one man to declare his intentions. Hoping for white smoke from the chimney of his Jaynesville, Wisconsin home, most Republicans and even some Democrats are hoping that Paul Ryan will decide to run for Speaker of the House of Representatives and thus save the GOP from itself.
While Mitt Romney’s 2012 running mate and current House Ways and Means Committee chairman remains huddled with family in his Badger State conclave, politicians and pundits sing Paul Ryan’s praises in almost hagiographic terms. Josh Marshall noted that “a defining principle of modern Republican ideology is that ‘Paul Ryan is awesome.'” Jonathan Chait argued that Ryan “is already the president of Republican America” because “no other figure within the party combines Ryan’s philosophical radicalism and tactical pragmatism.” While

begs off by describing himself as “a policy guy,” his GOP colleagues describe him as “the only eligible candidate” because he is “super, super smart” and “uniquely gifted and qualified for that position.” As one unnamed Republican who spoke to him on Friday explained to CNN, Paul Ryan is a like a modern mix of Cincinnatus, George Washington, and Jesus Christ:

“He’s in a tough spot because he knows he’s the only one who can do it.”

But if the conventional wisdom is that Paul Ryan is selfless, brilliant and “the only one who can fix things” for his party, the reality is something altogether different. A quick glance back at his record reveals a self-promoting opportunist who has erected a 21st century Potemkin façade to mask his staggering intellectual dishonesty and political cowardice, a losing war against basic math, shocking condescension towards women and the poor, and a reactionary governing philosophy that would turn back the clock to the Gilded Age. And that means Paul Ryan is uniquely qualified not for GOP Speaker of the House, but Republican Turd Polisher-in-Chief.

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