Ed Kilgore and The New Republic's Danny Vinik note that Paul Ryan barely made an appearance in this weekend's laudatory New York Times Magazine article about reform conservatives. They suggest that Ryan may be losing his standing as favorite conservative thinker among Beltway insiders. The reform conservatives seem to have stolen his thunder, if only because they're actually thinking (or at least they've made a great show of thinking) about how to help the middle class -- for instance, they back an expanded child tax credit -- while Ryan's supposedly big ideas just seem to be traditional ways of lining the pockets of the rich (y'know, the usual tax cuts).
Yes, one-time Super Wonk Paul Ryan, who until recently epitomized Big Brains in the GOP, is nowhere to be seen, and may actually be diverging from the reformers on key tax and budget issues.But if the Beltway isn't gushing over Ryan at this moment, it's merely because he's not putting himself out there to be gushed over. All he has to do is give a few reporters (conservative, "liberal," or otherwise) that come-hither look, and they'll come running again.
... for the moment, it's refreshing to see that Ryan looks more and more like a standard GOP business hack with an unhealthy addiction to Ayn Rand novels, and less and less like the Brains of the GOP. He's certainly overdrawn at the intellectual credit bank.
Do you think the Beltway can't have multiple crushes at once? Recently the insiders have gone weak at the knees at phony acts of outreach to the poor and middle class on the part of Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ryan himself. Why wouldn't there be similar weakness at the knees if Ryan decides he wants to position himself as a deep thinker again?
Beltway insiders look at the GOP and want to believe. So Ryan will win them back if he wants to -- and no, he won't have to go intellectually deep to do it.