A Fine line between Irony and Hypocrisy

Paul Evans

The late Ann Richards (former Governor of Texas) was prescient: some people (she had said George Herbert Walker Bush) are born on 3rd base and believe they hit a “home run.” Mitt Romney is just such a person.

The late Ann Richards (former Governor of Texas) was prescient: some people (she had said George Herbert Walker Bush) are born on 3rd base and believe they hit a “home run.”

Mitt Romney is just such a person. And his first “presidential act” was to appoint another son of privilege and intergenerational wealth to accompany him along the journey.

Both these men believe they are qualified to lead America – apparently because of their vast experience with cloistered country clubs, familial privilege, and sweet-heart business arrangements.

And in fairness to Bush, it should be noted that neither Mr. Romney nor Mr. Ryan served in uniform when our country went to war when they could have served. Then again, few wealthy people send sons and daughters into Harm’s Way – even in wars started by their friends.

Like most Americans I have tuned in over the past two days to learn more about Mr. Ryan. To that end I have listened carefully to the imagery and language chosen by Mr. Ryan in his new role as “Chief Cheerleader” to explain the rationale for a Republican victory in November.

Few campaigns in recent history have advanced the hyper-hypocrisy espoused by the 2012 Romney/Ryan Campaign.

At stop after stop, Mr. Ryan tells his audience that he is tired of, “Washington picking the winners and losers,” that he believes our country is facing fiscal, even moral catastrophe unless “the people in Washington” are brought under tighter controls.

This is an odd statement for Mr. Ryan to make.

Mr. Ryan has spent his entire adult life in Washington DC. After a privileged childhood, Mr. Ryan went to DC and worked on Capitol Hill. After a brief tenure as a staffer – and consultant in an Armey-DeLay supported “K-Street” lobby firm – Ryan returned to run for Congress (elected at age 28).

A seven-term Congressman, Mr. Ryan is a construct of the structures and systems he now claims to find abhorrent. In another circumstance such things could form the narrative for a theatrical farce.

Ryan is Washington.

And it was the plethora of “mentors” he speaks so glowingly of, that created the mess he now claims with such passion he wants to be sent to clean up.

Ryan embodies the irony – and the hypocrisy – of the modern Republican Party.

Made of Washington, Mr. Ryan serves the interests of the money changers at our secular temple, and if elected he will continue to serve Washington and its power elite.

Hint: the modern Republican Party does not want a “solution” for our problems. The Republican Party as it now exists, is a party of the status quo – it seeks policies that keep the establishment secure, the great unwashed dependent upon fantasy, and the Democratic Party strong enough to pose a “threat” that must be vanquished from time to time (when convenient).

Out of office Republicans attack, obstruct, and prohibit meaningful progress of empowered Democrats; in office, the Republicans reward friends, punish enemies, and push government spending onto future decision-makers with uncanny skill.

Sadly, this is not limited to our national capital.

Here at home, we are witness to the same tactics.

In the 1990s, the Oregon House of Representatives and Oregon Senate were dominated by a similar ideology. And not coincidentally, it was during the 1990s that we created newfangled methods of pushing spending “off the books” – in order to showcase "fiscal discipline."

Today, the modern Republican Party promises “fiscal constraint” without providing the specifics required to actually realize such measures, or a record of implementing constraint when given the opportunity to do so.

Simply put, "Jack Kemp Math" lives.

It should be – but isn’t – a rule: people receiving a benefit from government spending should not be allowed to assert the need for massive cuts in overall government spending – without an appropriate amount of laughter by all involved.

Government exists to protect people, provide opportunities to people (not born on 3rd base), and to secure at least a relative degree of fairness and justice throughout our nation, state, and communities. It is neither bad nor good, but necessary.

Government spending equates to tax revenues supporting education, employment, public health, public safety, and transportation.

It also equates to the programs our appointed and elected decision-makers direct for preferred public outcomes: businesses – a lot of them – benefit from tax revenues spent this way.

The dirty little truth that people like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan (and those that support him among the business class) don’t want us to know is that government spending helps them – likely more than it helps the rest of us.

Consider the tax code, tax exemptions, the ability of corporations to influence elections and public policy outcomes, and the other hidden subsidies that we all (including Romney and Ryan) benefit from. These are valuable parts of our economy; critical support for our society as a whole.

It is also important to remember that “bureaucrats” – those pesky irritants that so many Republicans enjoy skewering are nothing more or less than government workers. Bureaucracies are large organizations established to implement policy.

Government bureaucrats include: educators, firefighters, police officers, soldiers, transportation workers, and those helping our veterans. Demonizing these people is always good politics because we all have personal experiences of when a civil servant fell short of our expectations.

Then again, we seem to forget similar experiences from the private sector. However, Republicans generally prefer to attack government enterprises rather than private industry.

It is time we recognize that being divided over the “value of government” is absurd. Government is a "force-multiplier" that prepares our citizens for work, defends our communities, and facilitates trade through a network of law and procedure that empowers the market.

It is time we call people out on the hypocrisy that allows two millionaires to trudge around the country claiming they know anything at all about the life of ordinary Americans.

And it is time we challenge the droll, outrageous claims of the party that wants the opportunity to return to Washington to continue the sacking of the government they didn’t quite govern into bankruptcy.

This campaign we must all be careful to listen, learn, and understand the choices we face. We will get the America – and the Oregon – we deserve. It is for us to do the hard work of securing freedom in our time, in our community.

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    In fairness, I must correct something. Mr. Ryan spent time in a Republican funded "think tank" providing papers and presentations that were used by and for lobbyists. He was not a contract lobbyist. My apologies for the confusion.

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    It should be noted that Paul Ryan received a Soc. Sec. survivor's benefit to assist him in completing college upon the death of his father, a benefit he would apparently deny to other more needy children who lose a parent and bread winner.

    Isn't it bizarro world that the GOP's answer to the economic crisis they created with Wall St. run wild is to take away Medicare and Soc. Sec. to create even more tax breaks for wealthy people who don't need it?

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    Boy, this is one of the most pathetic diatribes I've ever read on BlueOregon. Admittedly, Paul Ryan's stated positions give any liberal Democrat plenty of issues on which to strenuously disagree. But the personal attacks on his background and his character here are hard to fathom.

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    I'm not certain whether to feel proud or surprised by your comments Jack. Truth be told, I'm still one of the Dems that values your past service and proven commitment. However, I'm uncertain what parts of my commentary are either untrue or character-attacking. I take these forums seriously, and they are long (notoriously so, I'm told) precisely because I assert claims along with examples. And in terms of the "pathos" claim... Guilty as charged. The past decade has transformed me - I volunteered to fight the wars that others were too busy to fight; something I will never understand of Republicans seeking the highest offices of our nation. Closer to home, I am quite certain of the veracity of the assertions made: out government is now suffering because of the actions (and consequences)of a special few (one of which a past Republican Nominee for Oregon Governor) that turned our ballot into a cottage industry for their own amusement. As a city councilor, mayor, and school board member I know the impacts of those decisions. Jack, I said all of that in order to say this: perhaps we can meet for a frosty adult beverage to discuss our respective points of view. It's an open invitation, something I would welcome. Again, thank you for your comments. I will ponder them for future posts.

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      Paul, I have no problem with your policy differences with Ryan. But all this stuff about his so-called privileged up-bringing is beneath you.

      I would also remind you that there are three millionaires trudging around during this campaign claiming they know how ordinary people are dealing with this economy. Biden's the only non-millionaire in the group.

      If you prefer candidates from non-privileged backgrounds over those who were privileged, I assume you would have voted for Hoover over FDR and Nixon over JFK.

      And while I certainly respect your military service, your comments about Republicans like Romney and Ryan apply every bit as much to Clinton, Obama and Biden.

      This is turning into a race that can be clearly decided on the issues. The ad hominem attacks on the candidates' families, bank accounts and military service really shoulcn't be necessary.

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        there are three millionaires trudging around during this campaign claiming they know how ordinary people are dealing with this economy. Biden's the only non-millionaire in the group.

        The only reason Barack Obama is a millionaire now is that a lot of people bought his book.

        Unlike Romney and Ryan, he didn't grow up the son of a wealthy and powerful businessman.

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          You're right, Kari. Barak Obama didn't inherit his wealth like John F. Kennedy and Jimmie Carter, both sons of wealthy and powerful businessmen; he was a self-made millionaire like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

          I guess history has proven that people who inherit their wealth make terrible presidents, while self-made millionaires are not only great presidents but just plain better human beings.

          I guessed we really missed a great opportunity when Herman Caine dropped out after all.

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    Jack- I believe earned wealth is the essence of the American Dream- it is the inherited fortunes that I am weary of in a society claiming to be equal. That aside, I haven't - and don't - comment on the family of candidates: those I like or dislike. They aren't in the arena. But it is good to remember the lines, and I appreciate our shared concern over keeping issues front and center. Here is my bottom line: a) Romney and Ryan will sustain a brand of top-down too-big-to-fail quasi-capitalism that nearly broke us; and b) both these men at several points along advocated for Bush's Iraq Strategy. Personally, I think all federal candidates should serve before being given license to send troops into war, but to this point- neither Bill, Barack, nor Joe wanted the war in Iraq. And at least Joe's son went. I am always concerned about the zealous fervor for conflict, especially pronounced by non-combatants. At any rate, thank you for engaging on this topic- I hope we can chat about such matters in person some time. And finally, good point Kari- President Obama earned his wealth through sales of his books. His success helps a lot of us would-be writers have hope.

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      Paul, I hate to rain on your parade, but Barak Obama couldn't give his books away until after he gave the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Convention. Then everyone started asking, "Who is this guy?" and his publisher rushed copies of the book back into print and its been selling like hotcakes ever since.

      Not a path to publishing success most of us could hope to emulate.

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