Now apparently it's a "slam" to say Paul Ryan likes Ayn Rand

The right's favorite congressman declares backsies on admiration for notorious author

Published April 26, 2012 9:57PM (EDT)

Here's something kinda nutty. One guy said all of the following things:

  • “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.”
  • "You know you’ve arrived in politics when you have an urban legend about you, and this one is mine,” chuckles Representative Paul Ryan, the Budget Committee chairman, as we discuss his purported obsession with author and philosopher Ayn Rand."
  • "I give out 'Atlas Shrugged' as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it. Well... I try to make my interns read it."
  • "Ayn Rand, more than anybody else, did a fantastic job explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism, and that, to me, is what matters most."
  • “I reject her philosophy.... It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. "

That one guy is U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who used to love Ayn Rand so much that he hosted a birthday party for her in Washington, but who now apparently doesn't like her anymore, because of God. (And because her extremist philosophy is liable to turn off "swing voters" and "people who aren't 18-year-old boys with delusional fantasies of superiority.")

It looks like -- after some obvious excitement among conservatives and Republicans that it was suddenly OK to openly admit to being enough of a stunted adolescent asshole that Ayn Rand seemed like visionary instead of a bad pulp author and even worse philosopher -- Rand is back to being an embarrassment. Which is fine with me! It's not all that shocking that Ryan would want to back off from openly admiring a stringent atheist radical right-winger around the time that his party is trying to paint the president as anti-religion.

What's funny, though, is how incredibly suddenly Rand worship went from something proudly stated to something described as a liberal slander. ("Rand-related slams," in Robert Costa's words.) When will the cruel liberal media stop accusing conservatives of admiring the people they throw birthday parties for and repeatedly praise?

By Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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Ayn Rand Paul Ryan Religion Republican Party