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The Paul Ryan Myth

Paul Ryan is a remarkable politician. It is rare in this day and age to find an elected official so carefully craft an image that is distinctly at odds with reality and yet have the media cooperate so thoroughly and willingly in his image making. Mike Grunwald is in top form:

You may not like Congressman Paul Ryan's budget plan, but you must admit that it's courageous. You simply must. By order of the Washington establishment, you may question whether Ryan's plan is sensible or humane or even remotely honest, but you have to confess that it is undeniably an extraordinary act of bravery, or else pundits will beat the confession out of you with swoony prose.
To New York Times columnist David Brooks, Ryan's 73-page budget outline — it's not an actual budget — is "the most comprehensive and courageous budget reform proposal any of us have seen in our lifetimes." Here at, Joe Klein wrote that it's "without question, an act of political courage," while Fareed Zakaria declared that "Ryan's plan is deeply flawed, but it is courageous." The Economist agreed: "Credit where credit is due; whatever you think of Paul Ryan's budget, it is politically gutsy."(See "The Ryan Budget: A Test of Character for Obama.")
This is just weird. Ryan is a conservative Republican committee chairman in a conservative Republican caucus. He was reelected last year with 68% of the vote. Sorry, Joe, but I do question whether it was really courageous for him to propose huge tax cuts for the rich, squeeze health care for the poor, and promise that nobody over 55 — the heart of the conservative Republican base — will have to make any sacrifices. Honestly, does anyone think this week has been bad for Ryan's career? 

If you haven't already, do check out James Downie's piece excepting some of the media slobbering. The questions Ryan is asked almost never pierce his crafted image, they merely reinforce it -- Won't the Democrats attack you for this? Why are you so brave? Etc. It's amazing.