Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Paul Ryan's Smirk or Scowl
In a few short hours, millions of Americans will be subjected to Paul Ryan's supposed "poker face". The only real question is: will he be smirking, or scowling? As Speaker of the House, Ryan will be seated next to Vice President Biden and behind President Obama as he delivers his final State of the Union address. Ryan’s dark suit will undoubtedly be festooned with his usual American flag pin. Unfortunately, Ryan is unable to grasp or appreciate the incredible strength in the diversity of our nation, so the pin is quite meaningless. If he truly understood, then there’d be no excuse for either his voting record, or for what I’m convinced is the racist manner in which he, Mitch McConnell, and countless other Republican “luminaries” in Congress have consistently interacted with President Obama throughout his two terms. Frankly, their behavior has been so blatant I’m shocked that the word “uppity” hasn’t escaped their lips. Ryan’s disdain of the President has long been palpable, but it’s hardly surprising.
Ryan, who is actually considered a “policy wonk” by some, demonstrated his racist proclivities this past year when he linked poverty to “this tailspin of culture in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work”. Rep. Barbara Lee of California immediately (and quite correctly) took him to the proverbial woodshed. Noting his use of “inner city” as code for “black”, Rep. Lee pegged it as a racist attack.
Ryan is a part of the mindset that would find such statements/views acceptable. Today, nine out of ten Republican supporters are white; and 98% of elected Republican officials are white. Ryan continues to fly in the face of diversity. It’s ironic, then, that he actually held a poverty “forum” in South Carolina last week. Given the fact that Ryan has voted against raising the minimum wage ten times since coming to the Congress, and that he envisions one of the “solutions” to poverty as being slashing proven/effective Federal anti-poverty programs and putting them in the hands of the states, it’s hard to take him seriously. Unfortunately, he’s just so dangerous…
As he glowers or glares behind the President this evening, consider the respective messages each man represents. I’m certain President Obama’s will accentuate the positive, while Ryan will embody the party of opposition-with-no-plan. Ryan will undoubtedly make every effort to ensure his flag lapel is in full view, but Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine (a band Ryan claimed to be a big fan of) summarized it best several years ago when he called Ryan out for “his rage against women, immigrants, workers, the poor, gays, and the environment”. We’d all best beware of Paul Ryan, smirk or scowl.