For his latest New York Times column, Bill Keller went to Miami University in Ohio, Paul Ryan's alma mater, to talk to William R. (Rich) Hart, a libertarian economics professor who was an early mentor of Paul Ryan. Hart's ideas, not surprisingly, sound more like Rush Limbaugh talking points than economic ideas derived from academic study:
"Not green energy," he said with disgust. "Fossil fuel energy." ...But this, to me, is what's truly revealing about Professor Hart (emphasis added):
"My view of the N.A.A.C.P. is, you can't represent a group of downtrodden if you don't have a permanent group of downtrodden to represent." ...
"I don't know how I would have handled the 47 percent comment ... I would have stressed from the outset the need for policies to end long-term dependency by so many on government handouts, policies that wean them off the taxpayer dole and make them productive elements of society -- make them givers rather than takers."
"Do we want to become a sort of European socialist welfare state?" he asked when we chatted in his office, decorated with Elvis and Nascar memorabilia, with Paul Krugman's economics textbook demoted to a doorstop.Isn't that charming? Prior to greeting someone from The New York Times at his office, the professor either neglects to remove a Times writer's book from a place of contempt or pointedly positions it in that place of contempt. I'm sure he regards this as a brave, defiant act, a gob in the eye of what he sees as liberal orthodoxy, but it's just rude. It's small-minded. It's infantile.
The professor, by the way, is 65 years old; he's not some young hothead.
I know right-wingers would shout "Jeremiah Wright!" in response. Yes, Reverend Wright was a spiritual mentor to Barack Obama, and yes, his language has at times been intemperate. But Wright's anger is a response to a life in which he's seen rampant racism, much of it violent; maybe he has trouble acknowledging that the present is not as bad as the past, but the past he's responding to was pretty awful. What's upsetting Professor Hart? A lifetime of marginal tax rates he's found a tad too high?
And yes, I'm sure there are rude items in the office of Bill Ayers, but he was never actually an Obama mentor, except in the Fox-induced hallucinations of wingnuts.