July 30, 2012

When Paul Ryan was 16.

From a New Yorker article written by Ryan Lizza:
But the summer of 1986 brought a life-changing event. One night in August, he came home from work well past midnight, and he slept late the following morning. His mother was in Colorado visiting his sister, and his brother, who had a summer job with the Janesville parks department, had left early. Paul answered a frantic phone call from his father’s secretary. “Your dad’s got clients in here,” she said. “Where is he?” Paul walked into his parents’ bedroom and thought his father was sleeping. “I went to wake him up,” he told me, “and he was dead.”

“It was just a big punch in the gut,” Ryan said. “I concluded I’ve got to either sink or swim in life.” His mother went back to school, in Madison, and studied interior design; his grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, moved into their home, and Ryan helped care for her. “I grew up really fast,” he said.

He took both schoolwork and extracurricular activities more seriously, he told me. In his junior year, he was elected class president, which made him prom king and gave him a seat representing the high school on Janesville’s school board, his first political position. He played soccer and was on the ski team. He joined nearly every school club: Latin Club, History Club, the Letterman’s Club, for varsity athletes, and the International Geographic Society, which was open to students who received an A in geography, and which met monthly to learn about a different country. At the end of his senior year, he was elected Biggest Brown-Noser. (“At least I didn’t have a mullet,” he said.)

His father’s death also provoked the kind of existential soul-searching that most kids don’t undertake until college. “I was, like, ‘What is the meaning?’ ” he said. “I just did lots of reading, lots of introspection. I read everything I could get my hands on.” Like many conservatives, he claims to have been profoundly affected by Ayn Rand. After reading “Atlas Shrugged,” he told me, “I said, ‘Wow, I’ve got to check out this economics thing.’ What I liked about her novels was their devastating indictment of the fatal conceit of socialism, of too much government.” He dived into Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Milton Friedman.

43 comments:

I'm Full of Soup said...

Made him a tougher kid I bet.

cassandra lite said...

You can take it to the bank that if he gets on Romney's ticket, the left-wing armchair shrinks will accuse him of having "Daddy issues".

FleetUSA said...

@cassandra lite. Like Choom?

MadisonMan said...

From the article:

Janesville, Wisconsin, where Ryan was born and still lives, is a riverfront city of sixty-four thousand people in the southeast corner of the state

How is Janesville in the southeast corner of the state? Is it between Racine and Kenosha?

Dose of Sanity said...

It's southeast from Madison, I guess.

Rob said...

"Like many conservatives, he claims to have been profoundly affected by Ayn Rand."

This is the sort of subtle NYTism that I would expect Ms. Althouse to point out. Would the Times say that the President "claims" to be profoundly affected by someone or would they just report it as fact? Why would anyone doubt that Mr. Ryan was in fact profoundly affected?

C R Krieger said...

Wisconsin is a big state.

Regards  —  Cliff

Christopher in MA said...

You can take it to the bank that if he gets on Romney's ticket the left-wing armchair shrinks will accuse him of having "daddy issues."

I was actually thinking of this today, in light of Newsweek's laughable attempt to tar Romney with the Bush 41 "wimp" meme. For all that the left shrieked that Iraq was Dubya's way of showing his father he was a tough man, too, they have been singularly uninterested in speculating how much the vain, prickly, narcissistic anti-West, anti-business Obama is a result of wanting to please his deadbeat dad.

Econophile said...

I had the same thoughts as Rob.

Also, must he have been "affected" by Ayn Rand rather than "inspired" or "moved"?

Chip Ahoy said...

You know what this means.

His dad's clients were waiting around his office that morning for nothing!

Robert Pearson said...

President Obama "claims" to have been profoundly affected by the Bible, which he claims to have read some of at some point after he found out that claiming to be a Christian would be helpful to his career.

harrogate said...

An inspirational story of achievement but also very sad. I cannot imagine what finding his dad like that, at 16, must have felt like.

kimsch said...

Madison Man,

He must have meant WI CD1 which includes the south east corner of the state. WI CD1 currently borders my IL CD8 soon to be IL CD10.

Ann Althouse said...

"This is the sort of subtle NYTism that I would expect Ms. Althouse to point out."

I don't assume my readers need everything pointed to, but I will point out that the article is in The New Yorker, not the NYT.

Ann Althouse said...

"His dad's clients were waiting around his office that morning for nothing!"

And you know all those times when you were waiting around for somebody to show up, and everyone is like "Where is he?", and you break the tension with comedy and say "Maybe he died," and get everyone to laugh? One of these days, he really will have died, and then you'll feel bad. Think about that next time you're tempted to go with the old "Maybe he died" wisecrack.

Michael K said...

"Think about that next time you're tempted to go with the old "Maybe he died" wisecrack. "

I've never heard that one. There was a story a couple of weeks ago about a lawyer who was in the middle of a big case and, over the weekend, he died.

I've forgotten the details. That would be a bummer for the client. Not to mention the lawyer.

Rob said...

New Yorkerism, Timesism, the lesson...I am a dolt. I did not mean to criticize Ms. Althouse. Rather, it has struck me that she is often interested in the use of language in such a way.

test said...

"Rob said...
"Like many conservatives, he claims to have been profoundly affected by Ayn Rand."

This is the sort of subtle NYTism that I would expect Ms. Althouse to point out. Would the Times say that the President "claims" to be profoundly affected by someone or would they just report it as fact?"

I agree with your point about the casual insinuation of possible lying, but my first thought was slightly different. How many conservatives cite Rand? I think a dismally small number. Most comments I hear referencing Rand from conservatives are distancing themselves from libertarianism.

I took the comment as revealing they don't understand or recognize a difference between the conservatives and libertarians. Similar to how they use "Tea Partier" to mean scary social conservative. They don't know the difference, nor do they care.

Unknown said...

A sincere "life is too short" attitude is precisely what is needed in Washington as we floor the Ferrari toward the fiscal cliff.

The usual political out is that no one who tells the truth can be elected. Well, it's time someone tried from the bully pulpit.

We have fiscal cancer. No serious person denies it. If the case is made effectively and honestly to the American people, and we persist in our madness, then we deserve to die, plain and simple, and then what good is elective office.

Is Ryan the one to tell us the truth--to wake us up? Maybe.

My guess is that we'll ignore the cancer diagnosis regardless. RIP.

ricpic said...

I hope Romney picks Ryan for veep. He's very solid on economics and maybe more important he can take firm positions without coming off as combative. Given the premium most Americans put on niceness that's no small thing.

In Althouse's perfect world no one would ever crack wise about anyone else on the ten thousand to one shot that the one being disrespected would be hit by a car or come down with cancer at the very moment he's being made innocent fun of.

Joe said...

There was a story a couple of weeks ago about a lawyer who was in the middle of a big case and, over the weekend, he died.

I thought the punchline was: "It's a start."

bagoh20 said...

This is very similar to how I found my father dead in bed when I was 17. He lived alone and I visited him weekly. He simply had a heart attack in his sleep. He made decent money as a welding teacher for a steel manufacturer, which is my field today, despite never planning on it.

Despite being well employed, he died nearly broke with numerous people owing him thousands of dollars. His generosity came so easy that it was self destructive. I inherited the $1K he had in his savings account. He was a kind. productive, and generous man who was painfully lonely for the last decade of his life, only knowing those who needed him for money.

edutcher said...

Sounds like The Blonde after the death of her son. She went to school just to have something to occupy her mind and ended up getting her BSN.

and I agree with ric. Ryan is my choice for the Romster's running mate*. I think if Herself hears that story, she'll warm up to him, too.

* Darth, as far as he went was right about Miss Sarah yesterday (her resume was still lightyears better than Choom's and she was more fit to be POTUS) and it's why Rubio, West, Haley, or a number of others shouldn't get the nod - not enough time in grade.

4 years from now, they'll all be fine.

MadisonMan said...

He must have meant WI CD1 which includes the south east corner of the state. WI CD1 currently borders my IL CD8 soon to be IL CD10.

I think the more likely reason is that the author and the editor are idiots.

leslyn said...

Well, this post is yet another way to start your day with a downer.

Unknown said...

"My guess is that we'll ignore the cancer diagnosis regardless. RIP."

My guess is you're right; an electorate dumb enough to vote for the least experienced person ever nominated by a major political party for president on the premise of more wealth redistribution isn't smart enough to figure out it isn't sustainable.

"Well, this post is yet another way to start your day with a downer."

Except, of course, in the end Ryan made something of himself (despite the Elizabeth Warren & Barack Obama shibboleth of "...you didn't build that" [a message best delivered to public and labor unions, welfare recipients, and other leaches, i.e., the Democrat base, I'm sure most of us can agree]), so despite the anguish he surely suffered from his father's untimely death, he rose above it. Good for him, and for us, a good example.

ndspinelli said...

edutcher, I disagree. The loss of a child is much worse than the loss of a parent. There is nothing worse than losing a child.

cassandra lite said...

@FleetUSA said...

No, no, no. You have to play the game according to the rules, and the rules are that Obama has come to grips with his daddy issues by writing two books about himself and the imaginary relationship. He worked through them. Ryan only worked.

Carol said...

"Why would anyone doubt that Mr. Ryan was in fact profoundly affected?"

It's not that necessarily. The better reporters do not claim to know what the subject is really thinking, just reports what he said he was thinking.

Any more is just supposition, or buying into someone's hype about themselves. That's how it should be approached, but rarely is anymore. We read about people's feelings and inner demons, as if they were fact.

garage mahal said...

Except, of course, in the end Ryan made something of himself (despite the Elizabeth Warren & Barack Obama shibboleth of "...you didn't build that"

Ryan collected his father's Social Security hammock checks and saved them for college. So Ryan was "helped by that".

Skookum John said...

Ryan collected his father's Social Security hammock checks and saved them for college. So Ryan was "helped by that".

What's your point? Who wouldn't accept a payout of money that had previously been collected from his father's pocket for that purpose? I would happily trade all future claims to Social Security for a refund of what I've put in already, and not even with interest-- but that's not going to happen, so I certainly intend to collect the 86 cents or so on each contributed dollar that I can expect in my old age. That is qualitatively quite different from a true government handout.

Rob said...

Generally in journalism the word "claims" is used to express doubt. An objective reporter could use "states" or "says" or "explains" or a variation like "credits".

cubanbob said...

Skookum John said...

Bitch slapping Garage is always easy, but he is invincible in his ignorance so doing so has no affect on him but it does help one's spleen to vent. He will die convinced that the government being far wiser than he and is always doing him and others a favor with their money. No amount of evidence to the contrary will get that concept out of his skull.

garage mahal said...

He will die convinced that the government being far wiser than he and is always doing him and others a favor with their money.

Ryan has been riding the government gravy train starting as a teen collecting survivor checks. I just get a kick out of career government teat suckers like Paul Ryan and Scott Walker lecturing the rest of us about government "entitlement". They can't live without the government, apparently.

kentuckyliz said...

SS Survivor checks for minors are paid to the parent/legal guardian, are paltry, and end at 18.

So no, Paul Ryan isn't a welfare queen.

Unknown said...

"Ryan has been riding the government gravy train starting as a teen collecting survivor checks."

For some people, measuring the magnitude of their moronism is literally impossible.

Anonymous said...

garage,

Ryan collected his father's Social Security hammock checks and saved them for college. So Ryan was "helped by that".

Liberal idiocy: I am going to take money from you for most of your life, then I'm going to give back less to you than you paid in, then I'm going to say that I "helped" you.

You act as if Ryan's father wouldn't have saved that money or put it to better use to make life better for him and his family after he died. That's a giant, and typically false, assumption you and all lefties make when you have the gall to say that SS is "helping", when in fact it is merely a wealth transfer from the poor to the wealthy (those over the age of 65 of 47 times wealthier than those under the age of 35).

Beldar said...

The title of Lizza's article is correct: Ryan is re-making a new consensus among Republicans nationally.

But it's an awful and thoroughly biased article, the very reason why this summer I canceled the subscription to the New Yorker that I've maintained for many years. I never had any illusions that it was unbiased or even committed to ethical journalism. But it was my proxy for many less interesting leftie magazines that I only occasionally visited online. Now it's simply unbearable. It might as well be written by the Democratic National Committee.

If you want to know about Paul Ryan, don't read Ryan Lizza's carefully selected, sequenced, and edited quotes of Paul Ryan.

Read Ryan's own stuff. It's trivially easy to find with Google or YouTube. And he's utterly clear, and utterly capable of demolishing anyone from the Left, up to and including Barack Obama, on just about any topic and at the drop of a hat.

Gary Rosen said...

"Well, this post is yet another way to start your day with a downer."

It's always a bummer for Leslyn when Republicans are portrayed as human beings. Ruins her whole day.

Kirk Parker said...

"Think about that next time you're tempted to go with the old 'Maybe he died' wisecrack."

A friend of mine pulled probably the second-most-embarassing blunder: at a large weekly city-wide youth service on Saturday night, during the turn-around-and-greet-everyone point, turned around and said to the stranger behind her: "Hi!!! Nice to meet you! When's your baby due???... ... ... ... oh, you're not pregnant? .... ooohhhhhh....."

harrogate said...

"It's always a bummer for Leslyn when Republicans are portrayed as human beings. Ruins her whole day."

Point taken fwiw. But a highly ironic point considering the comment boards on which it appears.

Farmer said...

"Biggest Brown-Noser!" Ha!

Bleach Drinkers Curing Coronavirus Together said...

So he wants to make us into better people by killing our fathers, then.