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Paul Ryan and those identities on the Right

An an interesting background to and analysis by Glen Greenwald, writing on Salon in "The Right's brittle heroes" of the just appointed GOP VP candidate, Paul Ryan and many of those on the Right, including people like George Bush, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh.

"The contrast between (a) how Paul Ryan is depicted by worshipful Republicans and media figures alike — as a principled fiscal conservative and advocate of Randian self-sufficiency  – and the reality of what he’s done in his life is as stark as it is typical. The American Right has an amazing ability to lionize leaders whose lives are the precise antithesis of the political values that define their image.
 
For the last decade, conservatives transformed George Bush and Dick Cheney into the embodiments of warrior courage, even though they both scampered away from combat, letting others fight and die for them in a war they both supported. The same is true of almost every leading right-wing super-patriot tough-guy: John Bolton, Bill Kristol, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh – and Mitt Romney. Somehow, when the authoritarians on the Right search for icons of manly warrior power to venerate, they find only those who like to melodramatically play-act as such, but who ran away when it came time to actually perform. Indeed, such figures dress themselves up with extra-flamboyant trappings of faux Toughness for the same reason female impersonators have long favored over-the-top feminine costumes and gaudy make-up: the more one lacks an attribute which one wishes to project, the more extreme one must be in pretending.

"Thus do we have Paul Ryan — Randian Super-Hero of Individual Self-Reliance and Working Class Warrior against government debt, waste, and intrusiveness — whose actual life is a testament to the precise opposite values. As Charles Pierce and Joan Walsh document, not only was Ryan raised in a rich family and not only has he spent his entire adult life on the public payroll, but he has relied, and continues to rely, on various forms of government help in climbing every rung on his educational and careerist ladder. His claim to fiscal conservatism is even more laughable, as he voted FOR virtually every program that has piled up debt over the past decade, including the Iraq War (not just its commencement but its limitless continuation), the Wall Street bailout, Medicare Part D, Endless War in Afghanistan, and — in the midst of all of that — Bush tax cuts.

Perhaps most ludicrous of all is the notion that he’s some sort of advocate for restrained federal government power. As Antiwar.com’s John Glaser documented today, Ryan has continuously voted in favor of measures to expand all sorts of intrusive federal power, including making the PATRIOT Act permanent, enacting the Military Commissions Act to provide indefinite detention with no habeas corpus rights, implementing the Protect America Act to massively expand the U.S. Government’s power to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants, supporting a federal Constitutional amendment to deny same-sex couples the right to marry along with a law banning the ability of gay couples in D.C. to adopt children and the continuation of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, a Constitutional amendment to criminalize flag burning, and almost every proposed measure to restrict abortion rights.

The ACLU — which has been continuously scathing in its criticisms of President Obama’s civil liberties record — issued a report on the potential Vice Presidential nominees (including Joe Biden) entitled “A Heartbeat Away from the Presidency, Light Years from Civil Liberties,” and said yesterday that Ryan has “uniformly harmful views on five key civil liberties issues including a humane immigration policy, LGBT equality, reproductive rights, torture and indefinite detention and fair voting access” (he did, however, vote against the NDAA’s indefinite detention provisions, signed into law by President Obama at the end of 2011, as well as for a bill to include “sexual orientation” in the list of factors that cannot be legally used in job hiring). Whatever one wants to say about Ryan’s record, it is the very opposite of constraining the power of the federal government to intrude into the lives of individuals; indeed, it’s a testament to massive expansion of intrusive federal government power in almost every realm."

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