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Elliott, a very eloquent man with a fascinating blog, takes me to task for portraying Ryan as a radical Randian. I could whine that I didn’t really do that. But his statement is so eloquent that I’ll silence my defensive gene for now. (I’m pulling this comment up from a thread below.)

As someone who respects you a great deal, I am disappointed by your statements that Paul Ryan is a “Randian without the atheistic parts” who is “radically hostile to the minimalist welfare state that [voters] would like to conserve to the extent possible.”

I’ve never heard of a Randian who wanted to stabilize government spending at 19% of GDP for the next 30 years as Ryan’s current plan does. Nor do I think increasing total Medicare spending every year and preserving Medicare completely intact for everyone over 55 constitutes an attack on an already “minimalist” welfare state.

In every speech, talk, or interview I’ve heard him give, Paul Ryan has not come across as a libertarian crusader out to repeal every social program passed in the last 100 years. Rather, he soberly and consistently makes the case that our entitlement programs are unsustainable in their current form and that we have to trim them back to preserve them for future generations.

Maybe Ryan’s current plan is indeed “not really what he really wants to do.” Maybe he wants to eliminate the welfare state instead of bringing it back into balance with the rest of society. No politician, President Obama especially (public option, anyone?), gets to do what they really want to or say exactly why they want to do it, though.

Whatever his true beliefs, Ryan has put together a substantial but achievable reform plan for our nation’s entitlement system and framed it in a way that makes sense to everyone who actually hears him speak. The “image issues” that Ryan faces are not the result of his own actions or words but of his opponents’ relentless and often hysterical attempts to smear him as a slash-and-burn anti-government radical.

The real Paul Ryan is a good man and a good Catholic whom I would trust to help run our country. If the voters reject the Romney ticket because of him (which they very well might, I admit), it will be because the other side successfully slandered him, not because he really is too radical to be vice president.

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