If you haven’t heard about the imbroglio surrounding Rep. Paul Ryan’s attempts to revive the old Daniel Patrick Moynihan discussion about cultural deficiencies in the inner city which lead to poverty, here’s a good start, via Ryan’s appearance on O’Reilly last night (hat tip: Breitbart)…
A partial transcript…
RYAN: Well, I have known Barbara for many years. Look, there was nothing racial whatsoever in what I said. And if you listen to all the full context of all of my remarks, it’s pretty clear. So what I would like to do and I mentioned this is let’s get beyond throwing baseless charges at people. Let’s not impugn people’s motives or characters. Let’s have a real conversation about what we really need to do to fight poverty in America. If the status quo was working so well, then we wouldn’t have to do that. It’s not. The highest poverty rates in a generation. And so we should have a conversation about addressing these root causes of poverty and the problems that are facing poverty without throwing names at each other.
O’REILLY: OK. Did Congressman Lee apologize? Congresswoman Lee apologize?
RYAN: Barbara and I have known each other for many years. I at the present time clarify the point I have been making.
O’REILLY: How did she reply to your clarification?
RYAN: She does not believe that I have these views. She knows me well.
O’REILLY: Then why did she say you did?
RYAN: She knows I don’t have a racist bone in my body.
O’REILLY: Why did she imply you did?
RYAN: You would have to ask Barbara that.
O’REILLY: Did you ask her?
RYAN: I made it very clear that what i said had nothing to do with race.
O’REILLY: Are you mad at her?
RYAN: No, I’m not mad at her.
O’REILLY: I would be.
RYAN: I’m a big boy. I understand if you challenge the status quo, that if you get into these issues. Sometimes you will be misinterpreted but also I believe we have to have a real conversation about how to fix these things.
Ryan is very likable, because he’s earnest. He really does want to solve problems and make people’s lives better, and he wants to reach out to the black community to find common ground and make for the ability to (1) make black folks feel better about maybe voting Republican and (2) solve some of the problems the welfare state has caused within the black community.
And people like Ryan are what we need in politics. People like Ryan are capable of getting things done. Ryan might actually make a good president, which is something he might end up running for in 2016 (though his chances of winning were suspect even before this current flap owing to the fact he’s got a Republican rock star in Scott Walker who’s likely to run and steal his in-state and regional thunder).
So we don’t really want to trash Ryan here. But seeing him flail around like this is really dispiriting.
Understand that Barbara Lee is one of the worst people in American politics. Barbara Lee is a truly disgusting individual who has built a political career on race-baiting, radical Marxism and racketeering.
Back in 2007, Lee got herself mixed up in a scandal back home in California when a black muslim cabal she had shanghaied funding for managed to kill someone…
A bankruptcy court judge refused Thursday to reverse the liquidation of Your Black Muslim Bakery, even as Oakland’s congresswoman voiced regret for continuing to support the historically important community institution after its apparent slide into criminality over recent years.
“At the request of representatives of Your Black Muslim Bakery, my office provided a letter to a federal agency related to the bankruptcy,” Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, said in a statement issued Thursday. “Like many people, I historically supported the bakery because it has been an important institution in the community, but it is clear that is no longer the case.
“Knowing what we know now, we would not have provided such support, and we are reviewing our casework intake process in an effort to avoid any such circumstance in the future,” Lee said.
Lee’s office has refused to release the letter, citing the confidentiality of constituent casework; the Freedom of Information Act doesn’t apply to Congress.
Also understand that people like Barbara Lee absolutely refuse – absolutely refuse – to allow people like Paul Ryan to invade their turf. When Ryan offers analysis that the liberal Democrat Moynihan originally authored a half-century ago in an attempt to get at the root problems of poverty in the inner cities, it is a direct threat to Barbara Lee’s hegemony over that turf in her district. Barbara Lee has zero interest in such a dialogue, because should her constituents begin actually thinking about whether the welfare state is a benefit or a curse on their lives it’s possible some or even many of them might sour on her prescriptions for them. And that could well mean she starts getting challengers – either within her party or without.
That’s no good for Barbara Lee. Challengers mean accountability. And just like the majority of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, accountability means death. Most of these people couldn’t survive for two seconds based on their records if the voters were able to make a real, informed choice without machine politics entering into the mix.
So when Ryan delves into these issues, Barbara Lee tries to shut him up by calling him a racist. Simple as that.
How to respond? For God’s sake, don’t go on defense like Ryan just did.
Saying “she knows I don’t have a racist bone in my body” is the worst possible thing he could do. By saying that he just played into the precise narrative Barbara Lee wants to inflict on him.
Instead, Paul Ryan should have gone on O’Reilly and said “You see? I’m getting somewhere. I’m hitting a nerve.
“Barbara Lee just called me a racist because Barbara Lee knows I’m right when I say we have to address the cultural problems in the inner city if we’re going to solve the problems of poverty there. She knows that, but since she’s built a career out of making excuses for those problems she’s incapable of contributing to positive solutions.
“Barbara Lee and lots of other people like her benefit from their constituents’ poverty. They don’t want anything to change, because for them it’s better to rule the trash-heap than clean it up. So when somebody like me comes along and suggests ways to solve the problem, it’s a threat. If those poor people in Barbara Lee’s district start getting good jobs and owning businesses she’s the last person they’ll want to send to Congress, and she knows that’s what would happen if my solutions and those of the folks I align with get implemented.
“Calling me a racist is asinine. That charge sticks only if people are kept ignorant and an honest discussion doesn’t happen.”
Ryan could then begin asking some accusatory questions of Barbara Lee about the trillions of dollars spent on the War On Poverty that have produced next to nothing, the out-of-wedlock bithrates spiraling out of control thanks to perverse incentives and our cultural degradation, crime rates, dropout rates and lots of other metrics of performance the Barbara Lees of the world don’t have much of an explanation for.
He can win that discussion, because he can say that if he didn’t actually want the best for these people he wouldn’t be wasting his time on a political issue that only means trouble for him and his party. He could leave people to rot in the ghetto forever and so long as he kept his mouth shut nobody would call him a racist, he could say – so why wouldn’t he just shut up? Who has the most to lose from an honest discussion of problems in inner cities and the black community?
Barbara Lee and people like her, that’s who.
Ryan had to know that by addressing this issue he would start a fight. By allowing the discussion to center on whether he’s a racist or not, rather than why Barbara Lee’s constituents are so destitute despite all the money we’ve spent trying to make them otherwise, he’s doomed himself.
And worse, by essentially retreating from Lee’s accusations by saying “I’m a big boy,” he’s wasted the opportunity to get his own supporters behind him. Ryan’s supporters don’t want to know that he’s a big boy who doesn’t get his feelings hurt from Barbara Lee calling him a racist. What they want to know is that he’s a big boy who won’t take shit from slimeball hucksters like Barbara Lee without pounding them into the dust.
If you’re a conservative Republican who can’t steamroll Barbara Lee, you’re a lightweight. And Ryan, who has more goodwill and intellectual candlepower than most of the GOP’s political leaders, looks like a lightweight today.