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Paul Ryan's Skeleton in the Closet

Ryan said that he would go back to Galt and d'Anconia and "a lot of other things that she did, to try and make sure that I could check my premises, so that I know that what I'm believing and doing and advancing are square with the key principles of individualism."

"Check your premises" is a Randian slogan, predicated on the belief that all us bad-thinking non-Randians are shaping our belief systems on poor assumptions. If we understood the fallacious premises behind our beliefs, we'd be card-carrying Objectivists. Use of this rote catchphrase by Ryan shows how wedded he is to her philosophy and worldview.

Sure, it's possible that Ryan had a sudden change of heart since 2005. But the chances of that are reduced to nearly zero by his claim that he is the victim of an "urban legend." This is a man running away from his past, not candidly acknowledging it and saying that he has changed his views, as Bingham did. The people of the Bronx forgave him. Ryan, apparently, feels that's not an option, and clearly expects that he'll be able to lie about his Ayn Rand philosophy and get away with it.

Now, to be fair, not all followers of Objectivism necessarily buy all of her views. Ryan is a strident opponent of abortion, and Rand was militantly in favor of a woman's right to choose. In fact, Ryan is an extremist on the subject. They may differ in other areas. But all one has to do is read through his mind-blowing budget plan, which would shift the burden of budget-cutting to the poor and middle class -- while totally exempting the rich from any sacrifice -- to know that Ayn Rand continues to dominate Paul Ryan's worldview. The strident, Rand-quoting Paul Ryan of 2005 is very much the same Paul Ryan who is running for vice president today.

So let's call a spade a spade. When Paul Ryan distances himself from Ayn Rand, he's not obfuscating. He's not flip-flopping. He's not being a chameleon, trying to appeal to a wider national audience, one that might be put off by Rand's atheism, by concealing his true views. He's lying.

Gary Weiss's most recent book is AYN RAND NATION: The Hidden Struggle for America's Soul, published by St. Martin's Press.
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