Paul Ryan's Skeleton in the Closet
I'm really staggered by the media's softball handling of what is going to become known in the waning months of this campaign as Mitt Romney's Ayn Rand Problem.
For years, his newly minted running mate has championed Rand, a Russian-born author chiefly known for her novels Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. In those books and in essays, speeches and interviews, Rand celebrated greed and selfishness, rejected Judeo-Christian morality, and set forth an alien vision of a nearly government-free America that would be ruled by its industrialists and bankers -- an untaxed super-rich elite. She was a strident atheist.
Then, in April, Ryan had an apparent change of heart. He gave an interview to the National Review in which he disavowed Rand entirely. Ryan said that, yes, like a lot of people he'd read Rand as a youth, but he certainly was not an adherent to her philosophy.
"I, like millions of young people in America, read Rand's novels when I was young. I enjoyed them," Ryan told the National Review. That got him interested in the Chicago School of economics and in Milton Friedman. "But it's a big stretch to suggest that a person is therefore an Objectivist."
The National Review went on thusly: " 'I reject her philosophy,' Ryan says firmly. 'It's an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person's view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,' who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. 'Don't give me Ayn Rand.' "
There's nothing more unsavory than smearing somebody because of views he held years ago. I remember how teed-off my parents were back in the 1960s, when the Democratic boss of the Bronx, Congressman Charles Buckley, smeared his Reform Democrat challenger Jonathan Bingham as an anti-Semite because he was a youthful member of the isolationist America First Committee. Yes, he was, but that was years ago and his views had changed. Buckley was voted out and Bingham became the congressmen in a largely Jewish district.