Shock of the day: Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” is a jittery-jointed cop-out. Instead of picking any one revolutionary – like that Tunisian fruit picker guy – and building an essay, we get the “The Protester.” It’s in the tradition of “You” (2006), “The Good Samaritans” (2005), “The American Soldier” (2003) and “The Whistleblowers” (2002), which is too bad, after four years of actual human choices. (Do you remember when they picked Ben Bernanke? They did.)
The cop-out isn’t as politically interesting as the Paul Ryan “runner-up” profile. There was no real danger of Ryan losing his status as The Most Serious Man in Washington, despite presenting a budget less credible than his 2010 “roadmap.” But this profile (“THE PROPHET”) really amps it up. David Von Drehle heaps the superlatives on Ryan like Oreos in a DQ blizzard.
[T]he most influential American politician was House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan… a combination of hard work, good timing and possibly suicidal guts … it was Ryan who watched with satisfaction as his fellow Republicans forced Gingrich to eat his words … was Ryan who brought President Obama down from his cloud of happy talk about windmills and high-speed trains … Ryan’s success in setting the agenda was a long time coming… When I visited him at his Washington office shortly after Thanksgiving, the usually clean-shaven Republican was still sporting a goatee from deer-hunting season.
The superlatives are Bill Kristol-ian, yet earned. It’s spot-on to say that Ryan has defined the parameters of Republican politics in 2012. Robert Costa talked to Ryan after Newt Gingrich (done with word-eating for now) gave yet another interview quibbling about how to implement reform. Here’s Gingrich:
What I was saying was an answer to a very specific question which was if there’s a program which is very, very unpopular should Republican’s impose it? And my answer is no. When we pass Welfare Reform 92% of the country favored it, including 88% of people on welfare. Reagan ran to be a popular president, not to maximize suicide. And I think the (inaudible) have got to understand, you govern over the long run by having the American people think you’re doing a good job and think you’re doing what they want. Now the question is, how do you have creative leadership that achieves the right values in a popular way?
This is not the 1990s. The ‘Mediscare’ is not working and we should not back down from this fight. I, for one, believe the country is ready, they’re hungry for it. They are ready to hear real solutions. We shouldn’t wait around for the status quo to become popular.
Ryan is very good at defending his ideas at the first whisper of a hint of an attack on them. Through some trickery, he gets Von Drehle to mention that Ryan watched Republicans “inflate the deficit by cutting tax rates,” while letting Ryan off the hook for leaving tax rates out of the Path. Why, those hack Democrats said that they should have been part of it – can’t trust ‘em.