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Paul Ryan, Team Player

Dave Weigel tries to explain why Ryan gets a free pass for his terrible voting record:

Why does Ryan get a pass for his early-career spending apostasy? (Like I said, the “early career” ends in early 2009 [bold mine-DL].) Because he’s a good politician.He told Ryan Lizza last month that the Dennis Hastert-era GOP majority made him “miserable,” and other statements like that have convinced conservatives that he was only playing for the team.

Observant readers will notice that Ryan’s “early” career is almost his entire political career in the House. If that was his “apostasy,” when exactly was he being “faithful”? If Ryan’s voting record represented “apostasy,” these excuses shouldn’t work at all. Of course, that’s the problem. Ryan’s worst votes during the Bush years weren’t really the acts of an apostate, but an affirmation of his partisan loyalty.

He was a bad fiscal conservative because he was a good partisan, but there was never a time before that when he demonstrated a commitment to fiscal responsibility in practice. Just like Santorum’s weak “team player” excuse for voting for legislation that supposedly contradicted his principles, Ryan’s claim that his spending votes made him “miserable” doesn’t make things better. If he was so miserable, why did he vote for the bills? Because he has consistently put partisan loyalty ahead of fiscal responsibility. That’s not a reason to give Ryan a pass on these votes. That’s precisely the reason to hold those votes against him.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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