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The Imaginary Paul Ryan

[ 22 ] August 14, 2012 |

It’s not hard to derive an Imaginary Foreign Policy Paul Ryan. I suspect that David Brooks is already hard at work creating the Paul Ryan that He Wishes, rather than paying any attention to the Paul Ryan that Is, but it’s worthwhile to get ahead of the game and do some pre-bunking:

The Imaginary Paul Ryan isn’t completely a figment;  Ryan’s actual record on the final point was decent until a few years ago, and I suspect there seems to be evidence that Ryan is a touch more skeptical of the DoD and the defense-industrial complex than your typical Republican. This will likely provide sufficient grist for Brooks and his ilk to craft a Paul Ryan that seems to herald a return to the Republican foreign policy elite of James Baker’s day. But this is a ship that has sailed; Bill Kristol has claimed Ryan for his team, and Kristol holds all the best cards. Ryan has already abandoned whatever skepticism he maintained about the defense establishment (he appears to have evinced no skepticism whatsoever about the foreign adventurism bit), and it’s not difficult to understand why. It is impossible for a member of a modern GOP Presidential ticket to hold what amount to “realist” views on foreign policy.  Indeed, it appears to be virtually impossible for members of the campaign team to hold such views. This is less because of the popularity of defense hawkery (even the GOP base is more skeptical of hawkishness than the tickets would reveal), but rather because neoconservatives have won what amounts to a virtual battle of annihilation at the elite level. The influence of the constellation of right wing think tanks over Republican foreign policy is especially pronounced with figures like Romney and Ryan, neither of whom have any foreign policy experience or appear to have thought very much about foreign affairs.

But on the same terms that someone can pretend that Paul Ryan favors deficit reduction, someone will undoubtedly imagine a defense skeptical Paul Ryan.  It just ain’t there.

Comments (22)

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  1. DocAmazing says:

    For simplicity, I suggest that we merge the two right-wing tabulae rasae into Ron Paul Ryan.

  2. Malaclypse says:

    I heard imaginary Paul Ryan only cares about fiscal conservativism, and will allow us to put the culture wars behind us.

  3. Josh G. says:

    even the GOP base is more skeptical of hawkishness than the tickets would reveal

    Isolationism and protectionism are both policies that have strong bipartisan support among the general public, but which no major national political figure is willing to support because of strong elite opposition.
    (Immigration restriction was another such policy until fairly recently, when the Republicans embraced it with gusto. Even then, though, Republican policy is notably aimed towards mistreating the immigrants themselves, rather than going after the wealthy and influential employers who hire them. Prison sentences for hiring anyone without first confirming their citizenship with the federal government would put almost a complete stop to illegal immigration, but the elites don’t want that.)

    • Spuddie says:

      Isolationism and protectionism are both policies that have strong bipartisan support among the general public, but which no major national political figure is willing to support because of strong elite opposition.

      People don’t support those policies because they are inherently short-sighted, destructive and stupid. Lack of elite support has nothing to do with it.

      Isolationism and protectionism are policies which always popular among those who don’t like to consider unintended consequences. People who don’t want to think very hard.

      The results always tend to be the opposite of what was intended.

      Protectionism makes it even easier for immigrant labor (legal or otherwise) to be exploited and undermine prevailing wages because it removes most avenues of recourse for the non-citizen worker. It ties the workers directly to their employers in order to stay in the country. This provides leverage to force them to accept work at lower than average wages. Instead of protecting the American worker, you have a way to lower their wages even further.

      Isolationism has always caused the decline of societies and eroded the ability to protect their interests. It tends to embolden those who seek to hasten the decline of our foreign influence and power.

      • Holden Pattern says:

        What in the what now? So you’re trying to make the case against protectionism on the grounds that it’s bad for labor because it ties labor to the country? That simply makes no damn sense. Make the standard economic case about comparative advantage maybe (though that pretty much falls down when you actually look at who reaps the excess profits), but the notion that not allowing cheap foreign labor working under sweatshop conditions in repressive regimes to compete with domestic US labor somehow fucks over domestic labor is insane.

        And your case against isolationism is flat out begging the question, but IIRC, you are exceptionally pro-Israel in the classic “support the Israelis no matter what” mode of American politics. So I can see how you’d suddenly snap into neocon “emboldens our enemies” claptrap there.

        • spud says:

          No, protectionism ties labor to the employer in a way that allows coercive control over them. Its pretty obvious you probably don’t anyone living here on a work visa. You got to get your head out of considering immigrant labor as just sweatshop labor. protectionism drives all forms of legal, employment based immigration law. What usually is intended on creating burdens for employers hiring foreign labor becomes transferred to the employees. it creates avenues for abuse. Since the foreign worker is considered an interloper by our immigration was, there is little consideration given to their working conditions. Draconian measures only make it more acceptable to hide conditions from the public.

          As for isolationism, your sole response is ad hominem. Isolationism has never benefitted a society. If it did north Korea would be a world power . Political isolationism inevitably leads to economic forms as well. Isolationism always has led to stagnation and decay. There are zero historical examples of it being beneficial in practice. Usually it invites conflict because it makes a nation seem weak and compliant.

  4. Halloween Jack says:

    Imaginary Paul Ryan is, of course, totally already a thing, with various flavors to please almost any wingnut palate (my favorite, from Roy’s Village Voice column, is the one with all of Sarah Palin’s pluses and none of her minuses). Your “pre-bunking”, though, convinces me that it’s possible to create a Brooksbot that’s convincing enough so that it’s possible to retire the real thing, which, while not eliminating the river of NYT op-ed effluvia thus resulting, at least takes away the sting of the knowledge that someone’s getting paid tall coin to produce that spewage of sewage.

  5. Reasonable 4ce says:

    Daniel Larison has been on Ryan’s case for over a year, and rightly so.

  6. wengler says:

    In truth a VP pick’s foreign policy views don’t matter unless he’s a sith lord.

    Ergo, Ryan’s proximity to Cheney must be monitored at all times.

    • Heron says:

      There are always two… never more.

      And that will be the only time I ever come close to quoting that movie that doesn’t exist.

      • Malaclypse says:

        Among the many many things wrong with that movie is the silly silly org chart the Sith operate under. You would think that someone, anyone, would have read Simmel.

  7. simple mind says:

    Ryan looks like a shady Irish horse trader. He’ll promise you a stud and deliver a nag.

  8. [...] 21st-century version of American Exceptionalism. Rob has some general criticisms that one can read here. I will say that, unlike Romney, Ryan actually mentioned Brazil: We must also embrace the [...]

  9. chris says:

    I suspect that David Brooks is already hard at work creating the Paul Ryan that He Wishes, rather than paying any attention to the Paul Ryan that Is

    He’s an empire now, and he creates his own Paul Ryan. And you, all of you, will be left to study what he does.

  10. Ken Houghton says:

    I suspect there seems to be evidence that Ryan is a touch more skeptical of the DoD and the defense-industrial complex than your typical Republican.

    I’ll take that bet. It’s difficult for a man to know something that will cost him money–and Ryan’s family business expanded from sucking the Government’s highway teat to fellating its military hard-on decades ago.

  11. Pseudonym says:

    Kristol the Lesser holds all the best cards what now? His last turn he bluffed the Queen of Hearts and turned over the Joker. Now he’s claiming to be holding the King and Jack of Diamonds. Thank goodness our side is holding the Ace of… ok, it’s probably not a good idea to go there.

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