When Mitt Romney announced on August 11th his selection of Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to be his vice-presidential running mate, excitement bubbled up all over the country among Catholics, pro-life activists, and citizens who like well-read and intellectual political leaders. Not since 1964, when Barry Goldwater chose Rep. William Miller of New York, has a Catholic appeared on the G.O.P. ticket. Probably not since 1956, when the Democrats re-nominated Adlai Stevenson, or 1932, when Herbert Hoover lost his re-election bid, has a candidate of such acknowledged intellectual weight appeared on a national ticket.
Mr. Ryan’s voting record during his seven terms in the House of Representatives has been scored as 100% pro-life by the National Right to Life Committee. President Carol Tobias of that organization stated almost immediately that “We are thrilled that Paul Ryan has been selected to run with Governor Romney. . . Together they form a solid pro-life ticket that truly represents the pro-life majority in the United States.” Mrs. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said that “Congressman Ryan has insisted that there can be no ‘truce’ when it comes to advancing the rights of the unborn and achieving fiscal responsibility.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, released an enthusiastic statement of praise: “Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan shows that he is serious about getting America’s fiscal house in order. Paul Ryan’s voting record . . . suggests that he believes that social, fiscal and national security [are] indivisible. . . . [H]e has been a defender of religious expression in the public square. [He] has spoken out strongly against President Obama’s abortion-drug and contraception mandates as an affront to religious liberty. He has articulately described how the President’s government takeover of health care has pushed aside our First Amendment right of religious freedom.”
Other pro-life politicians were quick to jump on Mr. Ryan’s bandwagon, including Governor Mike Huckabee, Senator Marco Rubio and former Senator Rick Santorum. The latter, a fellow Catholic and former presidential candidate, said: “In addition to Congressman Ryan’s stellar fiscal conservative positions, he is indeed a full-spectrum conservative. He is solidly pro-life, pro-family, and will be an advocate for our military and our national-security priorities.”
In April, 2011, during the congressional deliberations on the Budget for Fiscal 2012, Congressman Ryan, as Chairman of the House Budget Committee, sent a long and thoughtful letter to Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, explaining what he was attempting to bring about with regard to budgetary planning. In it, he said that “Catholic Americans are blessed to have the social teaching of the Church as moral guidance as we consider legislative proposals. . . . ” Archbishop (now Cardinal) Dolan replied a few days later, saying “I deeply appreciate your letter’s assurances of your continued attention to the guidance of Catholic social justice in the current delicate budget considerations in Congress. As you allude to in your letter, the budget is not just about numbers. It reflects the very values of our nation. As many religious leaders have commented, budgets are moral statements. . . . I commend your letter’s attention to the important values of fiscal responsibility; sensitivity to the foundational role of the family; the primacy of the dignity of the human person and the protection of all human life; a concrete solicitude for the poor and the vulnerable, especially those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty; and putting into practice the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, here at home and internationally within the context of a commitment to the common good. . . .”
Not surprisingly, the anti-Catholic, hard left/socialist elements who are averse to domestic regime change are appalled by the prospect of Mr. Ryan’s ascent to nation-wide office. But interestingly, all they could come up with right off the bat was an attack on his youthful enthusiasm for the novels of Ayn Rand, an atheist proponent of laissez-faire capitalism. The late Miss Rand was a dreadful stylist and worse “philosopher” who could, nevertheless, spin a story that was interesting enough to hold her readers’ attention through hundreds and hundreds of pages of awful prose.
Mr. Ryan set the record straight earlier this year, in an interview by Robert Costa in National Review. While acknowledging that he had been influenced by Ayn Rand to study the economic theories of the “Chicago school” of free-market economists, he characterized his supposed devotion to Miss Rand as “an urban legend”. “I reject her philosophy. It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions . . . to mere contracts, and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste an epistemological view on me, then give me Thomas Aquinas, [not] Ayn Rand.”