The one key characteristic of Mitt Romney’s persona is that he is so dedicated to his ambition to be President and so willing to say and do anything to get there that he abandons any prior beliefs unhesitatingly when they are inconvenient. For Mr. Romney a political belief is not a core value, it is simply a tactic to obtain whatever office or political goal he is seeking at that time. If later the belief is an obstacle, it is just discarded.
No one in modern times will ever come close to matching Mr. Romney in insincerity. But his chosen running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan has at least one set of beliefs that are Romneyesque in their ability to be jettisoned. Apparently early on in his political career Mr. Ryan adored the philosophy of fiction author Ayn Rand. Today Mr. Ryan dismisses the works of Ms. Rand with disdain.
“I reject her philosophy,” Ryan told Robert Costa of the National Review. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview.” He added that he had merely “enjoyed a couple of her novels,” which also included another bestseller, “The Fountainhead.”
Of course in the 20th and 21st centuries we now have recorded history. So as far as Mr. Ryan’s current beliefs are concerned, there is a little conflict with his prior beliefs.
But Ryan made no bones about his philosophical influences just a few years ago. He told the Weekly Standard in 2003 that he gave his staffers copies of “Atlas Shrugged” as Christmas presents. Speaking to a group of
acolytes in 2005, Ryan said, “The reason I got involved in public service, by
and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.
And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of
individualism versus collectivism.”
Now no one, including The Dismal Political Economist really cares a whit whether or not Mr. Ryan loves or hates the works of Ayn Rand. But some of us care whether or not a politician has even the least amount of intellectual integrity. And given the state of American politics that level of acceptable integrity is very, very low. Mr. Romney, of course is even below that and it may be that in selecting Mr. Ryan he has found someone at his same level. No, that is not a compliment.