The Slatest

Paul Ryan, Already Tired of the Boring Heartland and Its Dumb Values, Is Moving Back to the Beltway

Ryan, wearing a coat with a Green Bay Packers logo on it, stands in a crowd of people wearing Packers colors, one of whom is wearing a large "cheesehead" hat.
Paul Ryan at Lambeau Field in 2012, probably wishing he was at the opera or the ballet or something. Eric Thayer/Reuters

Remember Paul Ryan? Former speaker of the House? Slept on a cot in his office to make a point about how Janesville, Wisconsin, and not Washington, D.C., was his real home? Left Congress in January to move back to his roots? Well:

The former speaker of the House and onetime GOP vice presidential nominee is leaving his longtime home of Janesville, Wis., and will rent a house in the Maryland suburbs of Washington.

“Now in the private sector, Paul and his family are temporarily renting a house in Maryland, and he’ll be spending time there as well as their family home in Janesville,” a Ryan aide told POLITICO.

Look—it makes sense. Middle America is terrible, just an absolute cultural wasteland. You can’t get arugula, parts for your Volvo take three weeks to arrive from the coast, and if you ask for a latte, they’ll be all, a lat-what now, Mister? The fanciest restaurant anyone has ever heard of is Burger King, and most of the superstitious locals think a real king makes the food there. Don’t even get me started on church being the centerpiece of social life. Can you imagine?!? Living in the Midwest for even one day would be absolutely excruciating for any civilized person.

Still, you’d expect the former leader of the Real American Heartland Party to make it through at least one calendar year of grinding it out in actual Real America before admitting that he prefers the urbane intellectual atmosphere and decadent material pleasures of, uh, suburban Maryland.

Laughs aside, part of the reason Paul Ryan is moving to D.C. is presumably that it’s convenient for his “private sector” work, which at this point consists of things like serving on the board of Fox News’ parent company and appearing at a “summit” put on by Tagg Romney’s private equity firm. Politico also says Ryan’s started something called the “American Idea Foundation” that will be based in Janesville, but as far as I can tell the foundation doesn’t have a website and hasn’t produced any work; the only mention of it I can find online prior to this week is in an April article in the Janesville Gazette, which says it “will be launched later this year.” (Per the Gazette, the foundation is based in the same small office building that’s also the registered location of a Ryan-controlled PAC.) Put another way, now that his job doesn’t have to involve the pretense of serving the people of southern Wisconsin—the pretense that it involves anything other than lubricating transactions between wealthy executives and the people who write and administer laws—Ryan can also drop the pretense that he doesn’t live in the place where those transactions take place.

Which, to a certain extent, depending on how much lobbying he’s going to do on behalf of, like, Dubai-based tactical-pesticide conglomerates, is fine. And the other part of the reason he’s moving, according to his spokesperson, is that his wife has relatives in the area. So, like many people, he’s chosen to live on the East Coast in a metropolitan center because of his career and his family. It’s just that unlike almost all of the other people who do that, Ryan previously worked for decades for an organization that advances its goals via the bad-faith depiction of professional-class residents of the coasts as quasi-traitorous sub-Americans.

Anyway, I’m just kidding about the Midwest. It’s fine. I’m from Midland, Michigan, and now I live in New Jersey, which is worse.