Paul Ryan, Republican Intellectual

Paul Ryan, Repblican Intellectual

Paul Ryan is today’s leading Republican intellectual because he’s read 4 books. Well 3, actually, but he read Atlas Shrugged twice..  Alec MacGillis has a thorough examination of this in The New Republic:

“It wasn’t clear at first that he even wanted to be in D.C. Offered a position on Senator Bob Kasten’s committee right after college, Ryan took awhile to respond because he was trying to find work as a ski instructor in Colorado instead.”

“Ryan was inquisitive during his early days on the Hill, but in a way that was hard to distinguish from mere favor-currying. (He had been named the ‘biggest brown noser’ of his high school class.) He nagged [Cesar] Conda … so often with questions about supply-side economics that Conda lent him two books to keep him busy—Jude Wanniski’s The Way the World Worksand George Gilder’s Wealth and Poverty, both foundational tracts for trickle-down Reaganomics.”

“At his next job, with the conservative organization Empower America, Ryan would chat up any senior staff member he could find, a pad in hand to jot things down. ‘He wanted a reading list from everyone,’ the organization’s co-founder Bill Bennett told me. ‘He’d say, ‘Where did you get that quote?” “Where did you come up with that allusion?” “What did you mean when you said that’s a distinction without a difference?’”'”

“It’s a hell of a metamorphosis: fitness coach to vice presidential candidate in less than 20 years. But those who worked closely with Ryan as a young man weren’t really wrong to doubt him. He’s not a Moynihan-style big thinker, never has been. Rather, he’s a keen observer of Washington’s evolving political culture who has become good—very good—at exploiting it.”

— “How Paul Ryan Convinced Washington of His Genius,” Alec MacGillis, The New Republic

So basically Paul Ryan is a self-proclaimed Big Ideas Guy, Newt Gingrich with fewer chins.


“What did Ayn Rand teach Paul Ryan about monetary policy?” Brad Plumer, Washington Post blog


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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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