Rep. Jason Chaffetz offers a unique interpretation of Paul Ryan’s terrible voting record:

Ryan has departed from conservative orthodoxy on other occasions. He voted for the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, the Obama administration’s auto bailout plan and the 2011 bipartisan spending deal that averted a government shutdown. But conservative friends such as Chaffetz who have opposed one or more of his stances prefer to see his votes not as sins but as part of Ryan’s uniquely nuanced perspective, evidence of his refusal to pander or opt for expediency, even if he runs the risk of alienating some of his longtime supporters [bold mine-DL].

I wouldn’t expect one of Ryan’s friends to attack him in the press, but Chaffetz isn’t obliged to deliver such insulting spin, either. There are many things one could say about Ryan’s vote for Medicare Part D, but citing it as proof that he refuses to pander isn’t one of them. Ryan was a reliable supporter of Bush administration priorities in Congress, and one of those priorities in 2003 was to push through a new unfunded entitlement in an effort to bribe elderly voters to support Bush’s re-election. There are few more perfect examples of blatant pandering to a specific voting bloc in the last twenty years. Ryan voted for it along with most other House Republicans because that was what reliable partisans were expected to do. Passing that bill was a classic case of seeking limited short-term partisan gain at enormous cost for the country over the long term. Medicare Part D is exhibit A for why Paul Ryan was not a fiscal conservative in the Bush years, which represent the bulk of his career in Congress. There was nothing nuanced in his support for the largest expansion of the welfare state in a generation.