It all makes sense, once you realize that Paul Ryan's high-school classmates voted him "biggest brownnoser."
In his quest to pick the perfect vice president — in the first defining act of his would-be presidency — Mitt Romney just couldn't overlook Ryan's pedigree.
The symmetry was too elegant, too apt.
Romney, the prep-school bully who, backed by a posse of like-minded rich kids, forcibly cut the hair of a classmate whose locks were too long for their taste, knows quality when he sees it.
Ryan is an ultramontane Catholic, opposed to birth control, abortion, and same-sex marriage. This makes him genetically engineered for GOP approval. And his ability to nestle his proboscis between the nether cheeks of whichever Republican holds the whip hand is undisputed and admired — at least among those who go in for such things.
His prowess as a suckup was the distinction that made all of the difference to Romney, although it reportedly made most of the candidate's back-room advisors more than a little leery of Ryan.
Ryan's star turn as the boytoy of the Tea Party is a recent metamorphosis. For most of his 13 years in the House of Representatives, Ryan was a certified big spender: for the military, for public works (including Alaska's infamous "bridge to nowhere"), and even for TARP, the bank bailouts, and the loan to rescue the auto industry. During the Bush presidency, Ryan never saw a big expenditure he didn't vote for — including the massive expansion of Medicare. Anathemas all, at least, to Romney's current political incarnation.
But Ryan's true passion is for cutting taxes for the wealthy, especially the top two percent.
If there is a through line, a common denominator, a theme in Ryan's public life, it is that he favors lower taxes for the super-rich, as well as the abolition of capital gains, and appears to be relatively indifferent to the prospect of tax hikes for everyone else. In Ryan's view, wealth, prosperity, and the good life all trickle down.
If Romney's campaign has been bought — or at least rented — lock, stock, and Bloomberg machine by Wall Street, then Ryan can go Romney one better: Ryan is the candidate of the folks who own Wall Street.
One of Ryan's smartest career moves was to be born into a family of considerable means. Ryan's father, a lawyer, is a scion of the family that founded the construction company Ryan Incorporated, which, together with its subsidiaries Ryan Incorporated Southern and Ryan Incorporated Central, has earned hundred of millions of dollars building roads, highways, and defense facilities for the federal government. Paid for, of course, by American taxpayers.
A fitting slogan for the Ryan campaign could be: "Millions for us. Nothing for the middle class. And the poor — forget about 'em."
Clearly, Ryan is a man close to Romney's heart.
In a political party who take their strategy tips from Nancy Reagan ("Just say no!"), Ryan has earned a reputation as an intellectual and a policy wonk. He reads legislation, understands what he reads, and is said to own a library of economic texts. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is truly king — or at least a prince.