Paul Ryan: naive, inexperienced?


Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.

C.S. Lewis

As far as I know, neither I nor Virginia Heffernan is a philosopher in the professional sense, but I would submit that Lewis’s dictum is just as valid for bloggers.  And so it is that I must report on the Yahoo writer’s latest hit piece, because it is bad blogging.

Like her other columns, Heffernan’s latest meanders through obscure pop culture references, though fewer than usual.  This time, the most outlandish example is of some dusty blue book that every American must have owned circa 1970.

The author’s alternately snarky and earnest jaunt down memory lane serves an end of course.  In this case, it is to tie herself to her subject, the estimable Paul Ryan.  He is one year her junior, and as such is the first of Generation X to contend for the vice presidency.

The face of inexperience?

Heffernan proceeds to portray her college years as a perigee where she flirted with but ultimately moved away from a Jack Kempian conservatism.  Looking for bonus points with those harboring an unflattering memory of the Reagan years, she offers television character and teenage Republican Alex Keaton as a possible analog for Mr. Ryan.

By the end of the piece, it is clear than in so many words Heffernan has endeavored to say that compared to herself, Paul Ryan is naive and inexperienced in the ways of the world.  But for all of her musings on Generation X, she’s only managed to grasp the one elementary tool of commendation that the relativistic, existentially-driven Baby Boomers left behind: anecdotal evidence, the mere telling of personal experience.

Heffernan supposes that Mr. Ryan never faced a hard day in his life.  Meanwhile, she had some undescribed encounters that delivered her from a simplistic, uncaring worldview.  Maybe she saw a sad, hungry puppy shivering by the side of the road.  That is why, unlike the experientially impoverished Mr. Ryan,   she was able to grow out of an infatuation with that extreme ideology called fiscal restraint.

What a condescending take.  Did Heffernan fail to research that Paul Ryan discovered his father dead in bed when he was 16?  Or that his Alzheimer’s-stricken grandmother moved in for care shortly thereafter?  Indeed, the teenage Paul Ryan worked at McDonalds.  Those earnings, along with Social Security survivor’s benefits, allowed him to go to college.  And when he got there, he supported himself further with a side job selling hot dogs for Oscar Meyer.  Does this sound like some sort of silver spoon background, or the picture of naivete conjured by fictional teenage Republicans of TV yesteryear?  Contrary to her boast, it is Ryan, not she, who is the old soul.

Rather than offer commentary of value, Heffernan merely pollutes the national conversation with solipsistic bubble gum blogging.  She permits her readers to dismiss the latest Republican candidate as heartless, aloof, and extreme.  And in the same moment, they are left with fond recollections of leg warmers and ’80s prom hair.  Given the state of the entertainment establishment, this is hardly a novel achievement.

As I’ve warned before, Yahoo! News is more an entertainment outpost than an outlet for truth.

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About cogitating duck
I study Christian apologetics at Biola University and occasionally write on ethics, truth, science and politics.

6 Responses to Paul Ryan: naive, inexperienced?

  1. doug1943 says:

    The Left will have a hard time portraying Paul Ryan as inexperienced in national government, or stupid, or a child of privilege. But they will try.

    It as an excellent choice by Romney. Now we can have a real debate about the future of this country.

    • Bev says:

      Hey, “Doug:” “Those earnings, along with Social Security survivor’s benefits, allowed him to go to college. And when he got there, he supported himself further with a side job selling hot dogs for Oscar Meyer.”

      Oh, really? Then why does Ryan and the Tea Party zealots want to privatize S.S. or voucherize Medicare? Good luck with your choice for the Ryan/Romney ticket (Romney will be a puppet for the extremists.) One thing you should probably know that receiving “Medicare vouchers” will not work. Do you know why? Because those vouchers will not keep up with medical costs INFLATION, and you will have to pay the difference out of your own pocket. That’s for starters! Remember, “Life can turn on a dime.” So you best be healthy, financially solvent, not be the beneficiary of S.S., Medicare or Medicaid, not be the recipient of that dreaded “pink slip,” not receive a catastrophic medical diagnoses, be a victim of a natural disaster or a crime. You want your tiny little govt.? Guess what? You’ll be left to your own devices to haul yourself back out of personal debt. Think FEMA/Katrina? The EPA! I want my food & water to safe.

      Another thing to consider: Mitt Romney will fail as a president if he is elected. How do I know that? I’m from MA, that’s how. We ranked 47th in job creation while he was governor. Since you’re more than likely a card carrying member of the 98% club (like me & most others), go right ahead and vote against your own self interest. If you have kids/grand kids in grade school, good luck w/45 to a classroom (nice learning environment–don’t you think”?) Furthermore, if you or your kids are off to college, then good luck with that financial struggle, too; you see, the Republican Govs. cut billions from educational programs across the country. Believe it or not they want to keep the populace dumbed down that way they have more control. This will be more than likely your reality. Getting back to M.R. the people of MA do thank him for “Romneycare.” We love it here! Be careful for what you wish come November. Your life and that of your family will depend on it! (A commonsense nurse from Boston, MA)

      • Thanks for sharing your concerns. I hope you’ll tune into the GOP Tampa convention and the presidential debates to get a better picture of the Romney-Ryan ticket, which is anything but extreme.

        Under one version of a white paper, Ryan proposed vouchers as an *option* for those 55 and under. I don’t know if something like that will be ultimately enacted, but it will make a lot of sense after Romney repeals and replaces Obamacare with a market based solution that forces insurance companies to compete with each other to drive down overhead costs. As it is, prices have only gone up since ACA passed in March 2010. Romney and Ryan actually have solutions other than blaming Bush or peddling more spending. We’ve tried that. It didn’t work.

        You’ve mentioned the 98%, but it’s better to be a part of the 100%. Democrats survive by promising to shower their supporters with other people’s money, but the most elementary economics tells us that this shrinks economic growth, and therefore opportunity for everyone. Government has some important roles to play, but history clearly shows it’s not good at solving everything. It crowds out charity and personal responsibility, indispensable things our culture has been sorely lacking for the past five decades.

        I’m glad to see your civic engagement. The more liberals talk and actually listen to conservatives, the sooner things will get better.

  2. kyb76 says:

    Thanks for the info on Ryan. I hadn’t heard any of these facts about his early life.

  3. Your criticisms of other articles are excellent. I’ve missed your blog – been busy. But thanks!

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