The essence of Congressman Ryan: Our grandmother used to say it about her sometimes-warring daughters:
“Why must they fight?”
This morning, we thought of those words as Krugman and Brooks agreed on the essence of Ryan. Let’s start with Krugman’s assessment of the courageous smart bold honest man:
KRUGMAN (8/24/12): For those who somehow missed it when growing up, “Atlas Shrugged” is a fantasy in which the world’s productive people—the “job creators,” if you like—withdraw their services from an ungrateful society. The novel’s centerpiece is a 64-page speech by John Galt, the angry elite’s ringleader; even Friedrich Hayek admitted that he never made it through that part. Yet the book is a perennial favorite among adolescent boys. Most boys eventually outgrow it. Some, however, remain devotees for life.To Krugman, Ryan gets his worldview from a fantasy novel. And sure enough! Across the page, Brooks was drawn to the very same word.
And Mr. Ryan is one of those devotees.
[C]onsider the fact that Mr. Ryan is considered the modern G.O.P.’s big thinker. What does it say about the party when its intellectual leader evidently gets his ideas largely from deeply unrealistic fantasy novels?
Brooks explained why Ryan voted against the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson commission:
BROOKS (8/24/12): Ryan was betting that three things would happen. First, he was betting that Republicans would beat President Obama. Second, he was betting that Republicans would win such overwhelming Congressional majorities that they would be able to push through measures Democrats hate. Third, he was betting that a group of Republican politicians would unilaterally slash one of the country’s most popular programs and that they would be able to sustain these cuts through the ensuing elections, in the face of ferocious and highly popular Democratic opposition.According to Brooks, the fearless serious truth-telling fellow is steeped in fantasy too.
To put it another way, Ryan was giving up significant debt progress for a political fantasy.
Ryan’s fantasy happens to be the No. 1 political fantasy in America today, which has inebriated both parties. It is the fantasy that the other party will not exist. It is the fantasy that you are about to win a 1932-style victory that will render your opponents powerless.
Grandmother would have been pleased to see the boys playing together so nicely. One complaint:
In Brooks’ column, Ryan explains why he voted no on Bowles-Simpson. Enjoying a fantasy life of his own, Brooks assumes Ryan’s story is true.