We have a responsibility to speak boldly for those whose voices are denied by the jackbooted thugs of the tired tyrants of Syria and Iran. – Rep. Paul Ryan
IN CASE anyone was wondering why I invoked Ronald Reagan when writing about Paul Ryan this weekend, it wasn’t just because of his playbook of outlining what conservatism is for, instead of the Buckley narrative of what it’s against, something that hasn’t been done since Reagan started rising. It’s his entire philosophy that government’s primary function is defense, with all other budget priorities falling away beneath it. Eli Lake jumped on this Sunday.
Mr. Ryan is the embodiment of Republican bootstrapism at its core, with his belief people should be offered equal opportunity, but not equal results, as he phrases it. But the holy conservative grail for Ryan is the Reagan dictate that the national security apparatus will never be part of what’s sacrificed, including in hard times, because America is not only the leading free light of the world, but it’s chief protector and enforcer.
From Eli Lake comes a quote that perfectly encapsulates the Ryan theory of government:
Danielle Pletka, the vice president for foreign- and defense-policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, also praised the Ryan pick. “Unlike a lot of fiscal conservatives, one of the great things about Paul Ryan is he is not omni-directionally a budget cutter,” she said. “[Rep. Paul Ryan] understands the primary role of the federal government is the national defense and not the handing out of food stamps.”
Paul Ryan is the embodiment of Reaganism, from domestic to foreign policy. Food stamps and entitlements keep America from being the strongest nation on earth and he’s here to right the equation, literally.
It’s Ronald Reagan, circa 21st century, as if all the wishing on the right for another Reagan finally made him manifest. If you watched Mr. Ryan in his appearances this weekend he’s not only prepared to take that mantle forward and get it done, but whether Mitt Romney wins in November or not he’ll be carrying the torch for the duration.
Romney, then Ryan, emerging from the deck of the USS Wisconsin was not just a ticket send off, it was foreshadowing of the ideology represented and the intent to get it done.
On foreign policy, John McCain doesn’t hold a candle to Paul Ryan, because he can’t sell it. But if you saw McCain on “Fox News Sunday” you got the proof that McCain knows what’s happening. The vigor was back, not because of Romney, but because of Ryan. McCain slamming Pres. Obama from the Green uprising in Iran to allegedly standing by and saying or doing nothing in Syria. The glee as McCain spat out his critique, because he still can’t believe Barack Hussein Obama beat him, was visible under his derision.
Ryan has no hands on experience in foreign policy, but he’s been channeling Reaganism since he started planning his budget. Ryan’s carving a new conservative path in a way we have only seen barely attempted recently. This is a believer, with the rhetorical means and financial wizardry to lay out conservatism in a way that is going to make a lot of Republicans and independents turn their heads, because he offers a way to slash and burn the federal bureaucracy while making people feel good the military will have shiny new things to show for it.
Paul Ryan’s inner hawk is stronger than George W. Bush’s ever was, because Bush never understood it, but was fed it. Ryan knows the economic power in military spending and what it does to a politician who’s not afraid to wield it.
Ryan won’t touch the current elderly or the next boomer entries into the entitlement sweepstakes, as Romney-Ryan sees it, but they have every intention of instilling in younger generations that smart fiscal policy begins in every home. You want retirement? Save for it.
Government is doing bigger things, like saving the world.
The argument to be made by Paul Ryan is that Republicanism can be the way to get America’s groove back. All everyone has to do is quit whining and start looking to yourself, not government. The Tea Party embodies some of this, as does Ron Paul, except where Paul went wrong was taking conservatism into the holy grail of Reaganism and daring to include national defense as a budget item to be cut.
Ryan doesn’t like diplomacy and won’t budget for it, as Josh Rogin wrote about Ryan’s defense ideas in March. Something’s got to give, so Romney-Ryan will have to look to private enterprise for national security solutions, because of their theory of cutting federal workers. That’s not particularly new, because Pres. Bill Clinton led on it. From Rogin:
But apparently Ryan does not believe diplomacy and development are part of that tool kit, because his proposal would see the international affairs account slashed from $47.8 billion in fiscal 2012 to $43.1 billion in fiscal 2013, $40.1 billion in fiscal 2014, $38.3 billion in fiscal 2015, and $38.1 billion in fiscal 2016. The State Department and USAID wouldn’t see their budget get back to current levels until after 2022 if Ryan were to have his way.
Meanwhile, the national defense part of the budget would rise from $561 billion to $603 billion over the same timeframe, according to Ryan’s plan.
Democrats are fixated on domestic cuts and the transformation of entitlements, which is understandable. They are also typically demeaning of Paul Ryan, because he’s a conservative, sneering at a man who they are mistakenly underestimating, partly because he’s Mitt Romney’s running mate.
However, the real sorcery in Mr. Ryan’s calm, assured and easy going pitch is national security, because it targets nationalist heart strings at a time when “America in decline” is palpable. It’s the same playbook Ronald Reagan used while Democrats were fiddling with their sweaters.
This isn’t 1980 and Mitt Romney isn’t Reagan and neither is Paul Ryan, but they don’t have to be to carry the message.
Or maybe the voters will decide it’s a mirage.