The pinnacle of his disingenuousness took place last week, in an interview with Britt Hume on Fox. Ryan was asked if he was a Rand disciple and he responded: "No. I really enjoyed her novels, Atlas Shrugged in particular. It triggered my interest in economics. That's where I got into studying economics. That's why I wanted to study the whole field of economics. I later in life learned about what her philosophy was, it's called Objectivism. It's something that I completely disagree with. It's an atheistic philosophy. . . . Those novels, I thought were interesting. But her philosophy, which is different, is something I just don't agree with."
Hume, unfortunately, didn't follow up by asking "When you say 'later in life,' what do you mean? Do you mean after 2005, when you gave a 20-minute speech to a Randian organization displaying your fealty to Rand's philosophy and saying that you made Rand's books required reading for your staffers?"
The media, inexplicably, has been giving him a pass on his blatant dishonesty.
Compare Ryan's mealy-mouthed efforts to distance himself from Rand with Ron Paul. When it comes to Rand, you know where you stand with Paul. Paul has said he "read all her novels and received her Objectivist newsletter essentially the whole time it was published." But in his book End the Fed, he says that "she never convinced me of her definition and application of altruism." (Rand describes altruism in extreme terms, as a form of evil.)Because he has been forthright and honest about it, Rand's influence on Paul has never been much of an issue. If you ask him about it, he tells you, honestly. He has nothing to hide. Ryan clearly feels that he does. Instead of saying "I agree with her on x and disagree with her on y," he just brands the whole thing an "urban legend." If it is, it is one that he has spread, personally. But I guess you can't blame Ryan too much for being such a dishonest wuss, because he has joined a ticket headed by the dishonest wuss to end all dishonest wusses. Mitt Romney's flip-flopping on issues such as health care -- his program was the model for Obamacare, as we all know -- has been the most outstanding characteristic of his campaign. To give you an idea of the man's total lack of integrity, he recently threw a bone to Paul supporters by endorsing Paul's longtime call for an audit of the Federal Reserve. Romney had previously shown a degree of integrity by sticking to his guns on the subject, refusing to endorse a good-sounding but essentially meaningless political gesture, but has now succumbed. I'd like to see Ron Paul on the podium at the Republican convention. Rather than going on and on about "freedom," he ought to show us the kind of man's man that he is. Denounce aid to Israel! Talk about the Fed funding the Watergate burglars and the arming of Iraq! Show your integrity. Don't worry about the political repercussions. If it benefits the Democrats, well, so be it. Meanwhile, here's hoping that Todd Akin stays in the race. Hang in there, chum. Don't let the Republican establishment bully you. Gary Weiss's most recent book is AYN RAND NATION: The Hidden Struggle for America's Soul, published by St. Martin's Press.