The message from two new profiles of House budget chief Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), in New York and The New York Times, is pretty unmistakable: This is Ryan's GOP, and Mitt Romney is only along for the ride. Ditto for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Romney has pledged to enact the controversial budget plan authored by Ryan, and powerful anti-tax activist Grover Norquist says the only qualification the next (Republican) president needs is "enough working digits to handle a pen" to sign Ryan's fiscal prescriptions — which would slash both tax rates and spending on social programs — into law. Is a 42-year-old self-styled wonk really the most powerful Republican in the nation?
Ryan's being oversold: "Happy Paul Ryan Day!" says Brayden Simms at Metro New York. You'd think from all the buzz that Ryan is "the reigning king of the Republican Party," but the only actual Republicans quoted saying that are Norquist and fellow "right-wing ideologue" Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.). I get why they want to make Romney No. 2 to a man who wants to "give the wealthiest among us a huge windfall and take a torch to programs for the poor," but the rest of the GOP probably wants a little more "wiggle room."
"It's Paul Ryan's world, we just work in it"
The mainstream media is just figuring this out? Of course Ryan "is a big deal in the Republican Party," says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. That's been obvious to anyone with eyes for at least 18 months. What's really going on is that the liberal media wants to elevate Ryan to "evil wizard behind the Republican Party" now that he's "an obvious candidate for VP." But that won't fly — Ryan's too "intensely 'normal' and likable," and too little known, to be the lightening rod Democrats want to make him.
"Paul Ryan: An enigma for the left"
Powerful or not, he's Mr. Popular: What's frustrating for critics is that while Ryan's GOP-endorsed plans to voucherize Medicare, cut social services, and raise military spending are unpopular, he isn't, says Charles Mahtesian at Politico. In fact, he is as beloved by the Beltway media as much as he is by the GOP base. Democrats will still try to use his policies to "tie him around the neck of every GOP candidate," but good luck: "Ryan's winning political style is a nut that no one has been able to crack yet."
"Paul Ryan season kicks off"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- George W. Bush 'ran the country like a cable network,' and other political insights from Chris Rock
- How Wall Street is chipping away at reform
- How I lost all my money
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- The age of miracles is over — even for the religious
- 10 things you need to know today: December 21, 2014
Subscribe to the Week