Analysis of media issues, politics and current events.
Mitt Romney declared congressman and now Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, the “intellectual leader” of the GOP.
“Paul Ryan has become an intellectual leader of the Republican Party. He understands the fiscal challenges facing America: our exploding deficits and crushing debt, and the fiscal catastrophe that awaits us if we don’t change course,” said Romney.
This currently seems to be the unchallenged statement about Paul Ryan’s biography. Not that he’s dumb. He isn’t. Hey, we went to the same school. Yet to say that his stated policies solutions show the signs of high reasoning and informed thinking, the very definition of being intellectual, I just haven’t seen it.
As I said in a post before, “What makes Paul Ryan the hero of the GOP“ The Ryan Plan doesn’t show intellectual thinking as much as a brave declaration of intent. If you look at the plan he proposes, and don’t let the horror show of gloom and doom numbers seduce you in surrendering critical judgment for the actual plan he proposes, you quickly see it’s not the product of an intellectual. It’s a document penned by a person who’s outlined his desire to re-balance government by cutting just the programs he doesn’t like.
Also Ryan breaks three rules I would contribute to all true intellectuals:
1. Intellectuals don’t lie to defend an idea
Mistakes are one thing. But as the “informed thinking” part of being an intellectual suggests, intellectuals work to shed light on idea and solutions, not cloud or camouflage. As fact checks and news organizations pointed out a string of claims he’s made as over tops where factually incorrect or hypocritical. Even when debating, intellectual sell ideas by making them clearer and appealing to reason. Not by being dishonest and smearing other’s ideas. Einstein didn’t prove relativity by lying about other arguments. He simply prevailed by proving his. Spin doctors are not intellectual, we just know how to take the pointer you just used to explain your idea and stab you with it.
2. Intellectuals have a platform of base facts correct
Not providing a base of facts I can work with or verify, is like asking me to get to the top of a roof without giving me ladder. Of course, with those base facts, an intellectual can come to a different interpretation of facts. But when you see that a person doesn’t have fundamental school-room 101 concepts correct in their assertions, that essentially building an argument on willful or purposeful ignorance. That’s not being an intellectual. That’s, at best, is well-spoken self-delusion.
For example, Paul Ryan’s original budget plan claimed the ability to help pay down the debt with projected economic growth based on a 2% unemployment rate. That statement alone would raise the eyebrows any economist or anyone who watches unemployment reports. Why? “Full unemployment, the point where everyone who wants a job has a job by definition is 4%. The 4% accounts for the people normally transitioning between jobs. If it were 0%, no one would be moving at all. So 4% is the ceiling.
So his intellectual plan imagines growth based on a number that’s pretty unrealistic based on simple principles of economics. Which means a lot of the money he’s depending on to balance his budget won’t be there. I don’t think that’s too smart.
3. Intellectuals follow reasoning, not desire or preference
It’s like the rule in golf. Hit the ball where it lies. Play it wherever your game (or intellectual premise) leads you.
Paul Ryan claims he wants to cut waste of the government because we are needlessly spend too much money. He’s right. But in his proposal to cut waste he wants to keep and increase funding at the home of the $7,000 hammers? Defense? Defense where congressmen keep billion-dollar projects the Pentagon repeatedly say they do not want alive? Sounds like waste to me.
Integrity in intellectual reasoning demands that part of the budget should be on the table, too. Yet it’s summary excused by Paul Ryan.
Pull back the curtains and you see that Paul Ryan’s plan isn’t intellectual; it’s written down personal preference that can also make a jazzy PowerPoint presentation. Any proposal or demand without intellectual backing is merely a manifesto or a wish list.
Paul Ryan does have a solution to resolve the debt. That doesn’t mean it’s a smart one.