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Kinsley writes: "Paul Ryan laughed. He stood naked on top of the vice president's desk in the Senate chamber, scanning the crowd of sniveling politicians below him."

Paul Ryan with images of Ayn Rand and the Pope in the background. (image: Salon)
Paul Ryan with images of Ayn Rand and the Pope in the background. (image: Salon)

What Ayn Rand Taught Paul Ryan

By Michael Kinsley, Bloomberg News

24 August 12


grew up reading Ayn Rand, and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are and what my beliefs are. It's inspired me so much that it's required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff."

U.S. Representative Paul Ryan, Republican vice presidential candidate, in a 2005 speech.

Paul Ryan laughed. He stood naked on top of the vice president's desk in the Senate chamber, scanning the crowd of sniveling politicians below him.

He flexed his muscles, the result of hours spent in the House gymnasium. Look at these pathetic specimens, he thought. Not one of them could do a one-armed pushup if his life depended on it. Not one was worthy of so much as co-sponsoring one of Ryan's bills. Every single one of them had been elected by appealing to the average citizen in his (or her - Ryan snorted at the thought) district. It occurred to him, and not for the first time, that of all the men and women in this room, only he, Paul Ryan, had been selected for his current office by the president himself.

The president. Ryan's mind wandered as he thought about the only man who stood between him and absolute power. Mitt Romney was a weakling, he thought - and not for the first time. He's a man whose views can change. The thought filled Ryan with disgust. His own views were as solid as granite. They were the views of the only clear-thinking woman he had ever met: Ayn Rand.

Pathetic Losers

Ryan thought back on the humiliating "job interview" he had allowed himself to be subjected to before being chosen as Romney's vice president. Did he have any pregnant, unmarried daughters? Could he see Russia from his living room window?

Worst of all was the probing of his attitude about federal programs such as Medicare and Social Security. His attitude? His attitude was that all of these programs were for pathetic losers. Romney had agreed with him, but said they should keep this opinion under their hats. Ryan had obliged, only long enough to make it through the election. And he despised himself for this. But he did it, and it worked, and the Romney-Ryan team was elected. And now he kept nothing under his hat.

In fact, he didn't have a hat, or any other article of clothing. Clothing was for weaklings.

It was the opening session of the Senate, Vice President Paul Ryan presiding. The House leadership also was present. Below him he could see and hear so-called leaders of his own party pleading with him to get off the desk and sit in a chair like a normal human being - or at least put on some clothes, for God's sake. He cringed inwardly at having to listen to such advice from the likes of Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.

Although, he had to admit, he couldn't despise these two men, much as he might wish to. They both seemed terribly bitter. He liked that. Actually, he had a real soft spot for Senator McConnell, who, when the occasion called for it, could be impressively nasty.

As for House Speaker Boehner, he could be nasty, too, but always with a slight cynical smirk, which said, "I know this is all just a game." This ruined it for Ryan. For Ryan, this was not a game.

Furthermore, Boehner smoked cigarettes. That marked him as a pathetic, weak character. But it also marked him as a man willing to stand up to the sickening pressures of social conformity. You could argue it both ways. There are merits on both sides of the argument. Reasonable men may differ. …

Pathetic Thinking

"Stop!" Ryan thought to himself. Was even he not immune from the poison of relativism? Had not his mistress taught him that there are not two sides to every question? There is only one side to every question. He could hear her voice in his head, saying: "No. No. No. Paul, you disappoint me. Hearing you say that something can be argued both ways makes me physically ill. Yes, yes, I want to vomit. There is one objective answer to any question, and that is the answer that derives from reason. And if you are in any doubt about what reason dictates, just come to me and I will tell you. You can take it on faith."

Ryan thought about the challenges that lay ahead. Privatizing the interstate highway system. Replacing the Pentagon with national defense vouchers. Turning the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art into block grants for the states. Ryan was especially excited by the defense vouchers idea. Why should national defense have to be "one-size-fits- all"?

Again, he scanned the room. It occurred to him that, if anything, the opposing party was even more pathetic than his own. What a collection of mediocrities. A perfect reflection of the people who elect them. Over there was that weasel Harry Reid. During the campaign - with no evidence at all - Senator Reid said that Romney had paid no taxes for 10 years. So what if he hadn't? Good for him. Taxation is slavery. It is the inferior majority expecting the superior minority to pay them for their very inferiority.

Paul Ryan banged the gavel and brought the Senate to order. It quieted down quickly - much faster than the House used to under the so-called leadership of that woman from California. The politicians recognized that they had entered the force field of a true, natural leader.

Yes, things were going to be very different from here on out, Ryan chuckled to himself. your social media marketing partner


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+111 # Antler 2012-08-24 21:40
She "taught" him nothing, because there is NOTHING Objectivist or Libertarian about Paul Ryan. He wants to use the force of govt. to inflict everyone with his beliefs.

Only people who have never read Ayn Rand, whether you like her or not, would be dumb enough to think Paul Ryan uses Ayn Rand as anything except some kind of pseudo-intellec tual icon for making himself seem intelligent to stupid people.
+125 # yaramaz 2012-08-24 21:45
Chilling bit of satire.
+26 # Ray Kondrasuk 2012-08-24 21:50
Vouchers for the military? One-arm pushups?

Gosh, I'll have to give Mr. Puppy-Dog Eyes a second look...
+59 # DaveM 2012-08-24 22:20
A lovely satire, but one which also makes it apparent that Paul Ryan's concept of government has little to nothing in common with Ayn Rand's. I would be surprised if he has actually read/studied any of Rand's works. More likely, to my mind, is proclaiming it merely because Rush Limbaugh does--and I doubt that he or most of his listeners have read it either.

Ryan is just another "dittohead" who speaks and thinks in soundbites which only hint at what lies below the surface. He sees government as an instrument of control, and nothing more. Ayn Rand would dismiss him without a second thought, and we should do the same.
+34 # AMLLLLL 2012-08-25 11:05
Dave, remember these are the people who can read parts of the Constitution and the Bible and totally get it wrong.
+61 # angelfish 2012-08-24 23:11
Scary scenario isn't it? I'll bet it's that not far from the truth of the matter if these Loons get into the White House in November. Be vigilant, fellow citizens, help all you know to register, get appropriate I.D. and VOTE in November, and oh yes, never, EVER Vote ReTHUGlican!
+70 # Scorpius 2012-08-24 23:21
Romney obviously needed a front man in his campaign to be brash and even arrogant: a person with a genuine disdain for the ordinary citizen. Mitt Romney has to maintain his super-elite image of the atrociously wealthy Leader of Industry, who has lofty plans for the country. With one foot in Pennsylvania Avenue and the other in the Cayman Islands, he can let his VP do the dirty brawling. Paul Ryan has been handed a golden opportunity to be his alter ego in actuality. There is one crucial fact of life that both Ryan and his literary mentor missed: the rich need the poor. If you destroy the organism that you are sucking the vitality from as a parasite, you will become extinct, too. Witness the vanished Dutch Elm!
-119 # marstob 2012-08-24 23:28
What a bunch of words - which I call Tripe. Mr Kingsly must be writing a soap opera.
+36 # tclose 2012-08-25 07:57
Clearly, you have never read "Atlas Shrugged".
-89 # Activista 2012-08-24 23:58
What a pope has to do with it? another anti-Catholic propaganda?
+20 # dickbd 2012-08-25 15:29
It is a fair depiction of one of the influences on Ryan. I don't think it would qualify as anti-Catholic or as propaganda.

Good satire though.
+13 # robniel 2012-08-25 17:17
I'd be happier if Ryan studied Bill Mahr rather than his other "influences".
-3 # Activista 2012-08-25 22:35
"democratic socialism was and is close to Catholic social doctrine and has in any case made a remarkable contribution to the formation of a social consciousness.”
I am agnostic but what Ryan doctrine and social teaching of the Catholic church have common?
John Kennedy was Catholic and certainly more moral than Money Sleazebag Bill - previous democratic president
+8 # bmiluski 2012-08-27 09:05
However, the Catholic church considers women to be second class citizens. Therefor, unfit to say mass, and have any say in church matters. Much like the Mormon church.
+64 # MindDoc 2012-08-24 23:59

Ryan thought about the challenges that lay ahead. Privatizing the interstate highway system. Replacing the Pentagon with national defense vouchers. Turning the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art into block grants for the states.[ /quote]


But scary as sin if this Paul Rand Ryan actually captured the catbird seat and sits pretty in the Senate, grinning as the empire is dismantled, a cruel twist on Nero fiddling as Rome burned. Talk about fiddling rather than helping 'the people'! We'd have Cheney with a smile 'in charge'... Really a frightening thought, this dream team from Hell. Very scary too, RandRyan's history of acts, votes, & proposals. Ayn would be proud, except on the issue of abortion. (Ask Ryan to clarify the contradiction; I can't.)

Atlas may shrug, but we need to wake right up and *scream out* if we truly value the democratic and Constitutional ideals upon which this nation was founded. We need a *landslide* rejection of the 1% and Crazy parties, and at least a strong majority of sane and citizen-respons ive, 'representative s' of the humans who vote for them to do so. For the common good - and future, of our country. It's a critical, 'tipping point' election, truly. Vote!
+46 # Eddyiron 2012-08-25 08:30
As bad as it is now, if Ryan-Romney win, think of the fall of the Roman Empire.
+58 # giraffee2012 2012-08-25 00:26
Vote straight DEM. If USA is dumb enough to vote in these 2 flea bag idiots, I will request citizenship in Canada or some other country.

They are 2 crazy idiots who will make dumb and dummer (i.e. "W" and Cheney) seem smart
+5 # bmiluski 2012-08-27 09:07
W and Cheney were not dumb. Just think of the amount of money they made for themselves and their friends/family.
+34 # 61581402 2012-08-25 02:57
Approaches political life with the contempt that that Rand would have loved!
+72 # James Smith 2012-08-25 05:23
You think it can't happen in the USA? Imagine what would have happened only 50 years ago if someone had said there would be smoking bans in most public places. That there would be warrantless searches, that you would need government-issu ed ID to fly on a commercial flight. How about near-constant video surveillance of every public place, or private companies collecting data about everyone's life and selling it or giving it to the government? You would be laughed at and told that, "The American people would never stand for that!" Riiiigggghhhhtt tt!
+54 # Scott479 2012-08-25 05:59
"Romney/Ryan in '12 because rapists deserve to be fathers too"
+22 # Joris 2012-08-25 06:22
Paul Ryan's converstion to Randism from Catholicism reminds me of the arc of my son-in-law. Disappointed as a child with the meaningless Latin rituals, he rejected Catholicism. Ryan found the intellectual property of his religion insufficient--p robably because the teachers formed in the 50s and 60s were sterile in their theology, getting only the remnants of scholasticism (neo-scholastic ism was what was being taught), and, without realizing that he had been cheated of the rich Catholic heritage of thought, he filled the vacancy with its opposite--greed , hubris, and selfishness. He considers these admirable traits--a la Ayn Rand--with no appreciation of their contradiction to his Faith. No one offered him, for example, the depth of understanding by Bill Buckley or the intellectual challenges of Karl Rahner who has a far more politically liberal view than Paul Ryan. Rahner sees the human race, while Ryan sees the individual.
+34 # Mrcead 2012-08-25 06:27
Interesting. Ryan pretty much has to help Romney cheat and beg for enough support from rich elites and "social inferiors" to get into office. He doesn't sound like much of a "winner" to me.
+50 # the wizard 2012-08-25 06:41
The Republicans have decided to inflict America with another mindless twit for VP.
Rand was a chain smoking meth abuser and crappy writer. And this is (R)ayn's pole star?
Just another huckster disguised as a political leader. Rmoney and Ryan: perfect together, bad for humanity. Greedy little worm.
+52 # kalpal 2012-08-25 07:11
Its been 45 years since I read Atlas shrugged. I was in my teens and a friend suggested it as a great book. He also suggetsed Dune as fascinating creation of a new culture. Dune was based on a culture I grew up next to and was not even good story telling. Atlas Shrugged was vomitous in concept and ideology. It made me ill and I threw the book in the garbage which surprised my mother. I had been reading since I was 3 years old and had never before thrown a book into the garbage.
-96 # RightForAReason 2012-08-25 07:15
What did you smoke for breakfast to come up with this total waste of electrons? You might want to seek professional help for your problems.
+37 # wrknight 2012-08-25 08:59
RightForAReason - In my heart, I know you are right. You are so far right, in fact, that you are about to fall off the edge of the earth. Better be careful.
+12 # Mrcead 2012-08-25 09:04
It's Paul Ryan's actions in a Rand style narrative. Could use a bit of polish but it is still clever when the context is understood.
+22 # Smokey 2012-08-25 07:52
I have a lot of respect for Ayn Rand and her disciples. I also have a lot of respect for rattlesnakes... . Rand's philosophy is, more or less, the dominant philosophy for much of global capitalism and much of the Republican Party. Ayn Rand's work helps to define and explain a philosophy that has sometimes been a bit hazy. Her atheism and her support for abortion may annoy a few fuddy duddies - and Rush Limbaugh would scream if a socialist supported this stuff - but Ayn Rand is a cheerleader for ruthless capitalism and that makes her acceptable in lots of places... The left-of-center
intellectuals continue to laugh at Ayn Rand. Her works are "shallow" and
"filled with fantasy" and etc., etc.
Which is what the pinkos said about young Adolph Hitler and his buddies during the 1920s..... The crazies look and sound crazy in every generation. Once in a while - for very strange reasons - some of the clowns are given the opportunity to run the circus. It happens in religion, politics, etc. Sometimes the clowns are on the left and sometimes they're on the right... At the moment, the ghost of Ayn Rand is moving into a power position. Don't laugh. Pay attention to what's happening... NOTE: Don't be surprised that America's capitalist philosopher is a woman. Women have been in bed with Daddy Rich for centuries.
+41 # wrknight 2012-08-25 09:14
Sorry, I can't put Ayn Rand in the same category with rattlesnakes. I respect rattlesnakes but I do not respect Ayn Rand. Rattlesnakes are not vicious or greedy. They attack only for their own survival. Ayn Rand and her followers prey on others not for survival, but for greed.

But you are right about it not being a good idea to scoff at these people. They are truly armed (with political power) and dangerous.
+42 # lincolnimp 2012-08-25 08:08
This satire gives me chills. I read Atlas Shrugged many years ago and until now forgot how sickening it is. Excellent spoof, Mr. Kinsley, but scary.
-52 # jimattrell 2012-08-25 08:11
Let's now get someone to write about all the offshore accounts held by 4-5 Democrat Senators and how they sneer at the poor behind your backs....
+21 # Working Class 2012-08-25 11:13
Quoting jimattrell:
Let's now get someone to write about all the offshore accounts held by 4-5 Democrat Senators and how they sneer at the poor behind your backs....

There is no doubt that there are Dems who have off-shore accounts. That does not change that Mit uses off-shore accounts for the same reason. People use off-shore accounts to avoid their full tax responsibility to this country. Does anyone see anything wrong with electing someone that off-shores money to avoid his full tax responsibility?
+2 # wrknight 2012-08-25 17:12
Yes, I do. Bear in mind, the money elected politicians receive from taxpayers is a lot less than the money they pay in taxes. So, if they don't pay their full share of income taxes, we taxpayers shouldn't have to pay their salaries. I don't care what party they belong to. Fire them all!
+3 # Mannstein 2012-08-26 19:47
Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't having a secret foreign bank account in order to avoid paying taxes a Federal crime?
+3 # bmiluski 2012-08-27 09:13
Lets have names not just vague innuendo. Which is that you righties are very good at doing.
-40 # friedmannc 2012-08-25 08:12
This is the kind of language and approach that Rush Limbaugh uses regularly to degrade Obama and all things liberal. It is loaded with degrading hyperbole, gross cynicism, meanness and slant that brings you far from the truth and makes you look like an asshole at the same time. You too can be labeled a "big fat idiot" as Al Franken would say.
+15 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-08-25 16:57
If you had (tried to) read Atlas shrugged you would have recognized the style. Even Rush doesn't write like that.
+36 # suzyskier 2012-08-25 09:06
The very thought of Ryan standing in the Senate, even with clothes on makes me sick. What a hypocrite.
+26 # ABen 2012-08-25 09:41
This piece is satire and clearly meant to poke fun at Ryan's long devotion to some of Rand's notions (those that are convenient). For a more chilling bit of dark humor, read Ryan's most recent budget proposal; the last one passed by the House. For those kool-aid drinkers who will bleat "but at least the House passed some budget proposals," please investigate why no budget proposal has come out of the Senate in the past few years--Mitch McConnell and the use of the filibuster. I has become difficult to talk meaningfully about Congress without using dark humor.
+1 # fishmother 2012-08-26 20:38
+8 # Misterioso 2012-08-25 10:14
For some more insight into Ayn Rand, I recommend viewing this short video, "Ayn Rand on Israel and the Middle East."

The word "fascist" leaps to mind.
Also note Phil Donahue's excellent response.
+18 # Michael_K 2012-08-25 10:53
How to be an adolescent dickhead.. for your entire life - by Ayn Rand (could be the same title for any and all of her writings)
+9 # Trouper 2012-08-25 12:30
What Ayn Rand created for all women to endure with her selling out of the female sex by her toxic writing. A world filled with Übermensch men who will continue to abuse women, children, and the planet within their fascist capitalistic philosophy for eternity…. Thanks Ayn…. Here is your latest version of Satan's pool boy to continue polluting the planet with the philosophy of unbridled human
greed …..
+11 # Gailhen 2012-08-25 13:13
Dear Michael Kinsley, I am so glad to see that you must be feeling better, are continuing to write and I thank you for this blistering satire of the mean-spirited fool Ryan (emotionally right on the money). Stay well, and write more. Gailhen
+4 # Activista 2012-08-26 01:01
Алиса Зиновьевна Розенбаум was another sociopath from New York.
All population ecology/evoluti on points to just opposite - humans (and other animals) are social/altruist ic animals - re:
The Social Conquest of Earth by Edward O. Wilson
Any species practicing Ayn Rand ideology would not survive as a species for long ..
With present US militarism the extinction of Homo Destructor is very possible.
+10 # fredboy 2012-08-26 09:23
Mitt Romney sacrificed all swing and potential voters when he selected this asshole.
+1 # CandH 2012-08-27 15:31
"Ayn Rand on libertarian/religionists:

“The trouble with the world today is philosophical: only the right philosophy can save us. But this party [Libertarian] plagiarizes some of my ideas, mixes them with the exact opposite — with religionists, anarchists and every intellectual misfit and scum they can find—and call themselves libertarians and run for office.”

Ayn Rand on abortion:

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?"
+1 # racetoinfinity 2012-08-27 15:43
Nice take-off on Rand, but Ryan is a hypocrite. In the House, he has voted against Randian "principles" again and again. He's a good fit with Romney, because they are both hypocrites.

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