Paul Ryan renouncing Ayn Rand is like Peter denying Christ, except that Anne Rand was a batty old atheist who preached a self-serving “philosophy” called objectivism.
ThinkProgress explains why the news of Ryan’s loss of faith seems so shocking at first glance:
In 2005, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) heaped praise on Ayn Rand, a 20th-century libertarian novelist best known for her philosophy that centered on the idea that selfishness is “virtue.” The New Republic wrote:
“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,” Ryan said at a D.C. gathering four years ago honoring the author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”
Ryan also noted in a 2003 interview with the Weekly Standard, “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.”
But today, Ryan is singing a far different tune. From an interview with National Review’s Bob Costa this week:
“I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.
The key word here is atheist. Ryan, author of the draconian Republican budget, might still keep a secret shrine to Rand but he knows he has to publicly renounce her in order not to offend voters who still find a way to reconcile their selfishness with belief in the Christian god.
AS for Ryan’s bizarre allusion to Aquinas — well, Ryan calls himself a Catholic. It makes sense for him to say he admires a Catholic theologian at a time when the Catholic hierarchy has been condemning his budget plan, which calls for severe cutbacks in aid to the poor. I wonder if he’s read what Aquinas said about the habit of doing good?
Footnote: Nice old interview of Rand by Mike Wallace on the ThinkProgress video, above.