Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan Is the New Speaker of the House. So Just How Much Does He Love Ayn Rand?

Celebrate the libertarian-leaning congressman's new gig with this amazing painting of Ryan with Rand and pancakes.

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The House of Representatives got a new speaker today: Rep. Paul Ryan

To celebrate, Twitter artist Dan Lacey, a.k.a. @PainterPancakes, has produced this astonishing portrait of the libertarian-leaning Wisconsin Republican. With Ayn Rand caressing his pancake abs. And a pancake bunny cameo.

And today seems like as good a day as any to remind you that while the new speaker has said some very nice things about Ayn Rand (skip to 1:45 for the soundbite):

Reason's Brian Doherty also named him in a lineup of "Rand recanters" this August, noting that:

Ryan was happy to discuss Rand's political wisdom early in his congressional career, including telling me in 2009 that, as per Rand, "we owe it to the American people to give them a clear choice: Do you want a collectivist welfare state or do you want to get back to being a free market? We need to make a moral, not just practical or statistical, case."

But by the time he was Mitt Romney's vice presidential candidate in 2012, Ryan was ferociously wiping the sweat of his reputation as a Rand-lover off his fevered brow.

And as Doherty wrote in 2012:

Ryan began denying Rand earlier this year. Here's what he said to National Review in April: "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," he says.

Ryan, from his twisty TARP endorsement, is the worst sort of Rand villain: a man whose knowledge and understanding embrace free markets, but who traduces them for reasons of phony "practicality" or belief that one has to go against one's values to defend them….

Alas, making a moral case for capitalism--which is the same as the moral case for human liberty--requires a voting record that shows an actual belief in the notion that government has, if any, only the powers that the individual can rightly grant them. That's the power to defend one's individual right to life and justly acquired property. That does not include many, many things Ryan as congressman has supported, from TARP to Medicare Part D to auto bailouts (as un-Randian as you could imagine, as Conor Friedersdorf noted in his article rightly dubbing Ryan a Rand villain) and the Patriot Act.

By the time someone runs for high office, trying to suss out what they sincerely believe is impossible. But I suspect that a young Ryan did indeed think of himself as a Rand devotee (while always rejecting the atheism) but the "realism" of being a congressman and running for vice president beat it out of him. In its way, then, another variation on Branden's "afraid of what the neighbors will think" motive for Rand apostasy.

For more Paul Ryan, deep dive into Reason's archive.

Pancakes via Ken Layne.