Rand, seen here after eating a basket of kittens
One of the most eagerly anticipated questions of campaign season is whether Ayn Rand will rise, ascendent, from whatever hole we buried her in and lead us all to a glorious future of enforced selfishness while taking government checks on the side, or whether that will continue to not happen because the vast majority of people in the world have enough sense to realize she was a mean-spirited, amoral, pompous crackpot. And speaking of mean-spirited, amoral, pompous crackpots
[Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan] has credited the novelist, who championed an ultra-small government philosophy based on “rational egoism,” as a major influence in his life and career.
Though he has disavowed many of Rand’s social libertarian views, Ryan maintains that her work, particularly “Atlas Shrugged,” “triggered my interest in economics,” he told FOX News’s Brit Hume Tuesday.
Ryan told The Atlas Society, a Randian advocacy group, in 2005 that Rand’s books were “the reason I got involved in public service.”
Specifically, he got involved in public service to make sure other people had as little public services as possible, which sounds stupid until you remember that draining sick people of their blood was once considered a pretty fine idea too, back in the before-times, so in the history of dumb ideas that sound smart Paul Ryan is walking on well-traveled ground here.
Now, however, Ayn Rand fans are coming out of their makeshift college dorm-themed bunkers to say that all of this publicity is probably going to be pretty good for the long-dead attention whore:
“The most exciting thing is that Paul Ryan’s nomination calls attention now to the philosophy of Ayn Rand and ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ which has inspired so many people in public life,” said Edward Hudgins, director of advocacy for the Atlas Society and a longtime acquaintance of Ryan.
After tea party activists sparked a revival of interest in Rand in 2009, Kelley says he hopes the election season will be a new peak for the movement. He noted that the sequel to the widely panned movie adaptation of “Atlas Shrugged” is set to be released in October.
And why settle for just one humiliating flop when you can have two? Recent events have proven the Romney/Ryan campaign to be at least as rambling and ham-fisted as any low-budget political fan-fic.
The problem, however, is that Ryan is as much a cafeteria Randian as he is a cafeteria Catholic. While his own church blasts him for his budget proposals predicated on screwing the poor, Ryan has also had to distance himself from many of the side bits of Ayn Rand's philosophy that don't get so much attention nowadays, such has her pro-abortion positions, her virulent hatred of all religion, including Paul Ryan's personal religion, and her policy of sleeping with other people's husbands and getting pissed off when the wife got all mad and uppity about it.
So it's not quite assured to be the windfall for Ayn Rand types that they might imagine it to be. It could turn out that this results in a lot of people reading Ayn Rand books to see where Paul Ryan might be coming from, but so many of those new readers will have committed suicide after the first 50 pages or so that it's unclear if it would have any substantive effects on the election afterwards. And, perhaps, we might be treated to some in-depth television reports on who this Ayn Rand person is and why it is that "I've got mine, so screw the rest of you" seems such a consistently popular message with the type of people that so brightly offer to govern the rest of us. Well, govern us in exchange for a government check, of course.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2004:
President Bush will announce Monday that he plans to pull 70,000 to 100,000 troops out of Europe and Asia in the first major reconfiguration of overseas military deployments by the United States since the Cold War ended, White House officials said yesterday.
It could be related to the need for middle east bases, or Iraq, or an election boost for Bush or something else entirely. From the NY Times:
Pentagon officials, who have been working for more than a year on the troop plan, have said the goal is to create more flexibility to send forces to the Middle East, Central Asia and other sites of potential conflicts.
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