Home/Daniel Larison/Reality Check: Paul Ryan Is a Product of the Bush Era

Reality Check: Paul Ryan Is a Product of the Bush Era

Jeffrey Anderson’s claims about Paul Ryan on foreign policy weren’t very persuasive, but his concluding remarks in his Ryan-for-VP argument are entirely wrong:

What’s more, Ryan went to college in Ohio, and Wisconsin borders both Iowa and Michigan. In fact, given his widespread appeal, it’s quite feasible that Ryan could give Romney a bigger boost throughout the Midwest than any other running mate — even in the Buckeye State.

Finally, and perhaps most important, picking Ryan would clearly connect Romney to the post-Bush era of Republicans. It would be awfully hard to talk constantly about Bush-Cheney when running against Romney-Ryan [bold mine-DL].

These are remarkable statements. Bush was in the White House for most of Ryan’s thirteen years in the House. For six of those years, Ryan belonged to a Republican majority that was closely aligned with the Bush administration on both domestic and foreign policy issues, and Bush and Ryan’s careers overlapped for eight years. Ryan voted for every major piece of legislation that the Bush administration favored that came before the House. He voted for the PATRIOT Act, No Child Left Behind, the Iraq war, Medicare Part D, and the TARP. Ryan’s voting record is a perfect example of Republican support for the expansion of the size and role of government when their party is in power. His voting record is typical of a Bush-era Republican. He is a product of the Bush era. Nothing would be easier than to link Ryan to the Bush era, because he actively contributed to all of its greatest mistakes.

Let’s also think a bit more about Ryan’s “widespread appeal.” He is apparently not all that popular statewide in his own state. I have no idea why he would be very popular anywhere else in the Midwest. Portman probably wouldn’t move many votes in Ohio into the Republican column on his own, but he would presumably be more appealing to Ohio voters than a Congressman from Wisconsin. Ryanmaniacs consistently overestimate Ryan’s appeal because they find him extremely appealing. They never attempt to check their assumptions that a nationally obscure wonkish House member with a lot of Bush-era baggage is a major political sensation.

Update: Michael Walsh describes Paul Ryan in a very strange way:

The first is that he speaks in the cadences of a younger America; he’s like a Quentin Tarantino character come to life, minus the profanity.

I confess that I don’t really know what this means. I am several years younger than Ryan, and there’s nothing in his “cadences” that I recognize as being all that similar to the way that I and other people in my generation speak. Which character would Ryan be? Mr. Orange? If he isn’t using profanity, I don’t think he can be a Tarantino character.

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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