Paul Ryan isn't running for president this year, to the likely dismay of all the mainstream media observers who have a huge mancrush on him, --but the press can still find a way to work him into campaign reporting. Today, Patrick Healy and Jonathan Martin have a story in The New York Times titled "Wisconsin, Politics and Faith Bind Scott Walker and Paul Ryan." Yes, Scott Walker is fascinating because he's almost like ... Paul Ryan! (Who's so dreamy!)
Who could have guessed in the mid-1980s, at a pair of otherwise forgettable McDonald’s restaurants some 20 miles apart, that two bushy-haired teenagers working the burger grills would become Wisconsin’s most powerful Republicans?...
For Republicans who are disappointed that Mr. Ryan has decided not to run for president in 2016, Mr. Walker is offering himself as the next big thing (if not the next best thing) to come out of southern Wisconsin: a kindred spirit who talks politics and trades prayers with Mr. Ryan in phone calls and frequent text messages....
While Mr. Ryan is technically neutral in the 2016 Republican nomination contest because of his role in raising money for the Republican National Committee, he is full of praise for Mr. Walker....
For his part, Mr. Walker is already musing about putting Mr. Ryan in the cabinet of a Walker administration -- or keeping him as his best friend in Congress, where Mr. Ryan is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Well, if Scott Walker's best friend is Paul Ryan (who's so dreamy!), then Walker's all right with me!
How significant is Ryan? Well, according to Healy and Martin, this significant:
By staying on the sidelines in 2016 yet championing conservative tax and spending policies, on which he is widely considered his party’s leading voice, Mr. Ryan could end up playing a role for Mr. Walker and other Republican candidates similar to one Senator Elizabeth Warren may have with Hillary Rodham Clinton on progressive economic issues. He and Ms. Warren are both beloved by their political parties and mocked by those on the other side.
Here's the difference between Warren and Ryan: Warren is a member of a party that often (but far from consistently) pays lip service to liberalism, while frequently betraying liberals, sneakily or openly. Warren has worked hard to drag her party to the left, and it seems as if she's having some success. (As a presidential candidate this year, Hillary Clinton sounds a lot more progressive than she has at times in the past.) But it's still an uphill struggle for Warren.
By contrast, Paul Ryan advocates policies that virtually every Republican already agrees with, and that Republicans are more than eager to vote for in Congress. Ryan is not leading a "conservative wing" of the GOP the way Warren is leading a "progressive wing" -- in the GOP, there is no other wing. There's just a conservative Ryan wing.
I guess I should be glad that the mainstream media still plans to judge Republicans on how much their ideas are in sync with those of Paul Ryan. After all, Republicans and the media may adore Ryan, but the rest of the public doesn't seem to like him very much.
So, yes, New York Times, please keep working Ryan into stories about the GOP presidential race, and please keep saying that he might wing up as a Republican president's crucial ally.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog