Old friend Elias Isquith has an excellent piece in the Atlantic (!) on Paul Ryan. Elias makes the comparison with Goldwater (which isn’t made nearly enough):
Despite his affable, aw-shucks demeanor, Ryan is the most ideological and potentially divisive nominee to the White House in a half century. Not since Barry Goldwater proclaimed extremism in defense of liberty to be no vice and moderation in pursuit of justice no virtue has a major party candidate so forcefully challenged America’s political status quo.
Isquith then notes, that Ryan is all about making Team Conservative win, not about any particular principles:
This is one of the great ironies of the modern Republican Party: Without the Religious Right that Goldwater so despised, there would be no Reagan Revolution, no Contract with America, and no George W. Bush presidency. No defense buildup in the early 1980s; no tax cuts in 1981, 2002, and 2003. Throughout the past 30-plus years, it’s been the Moral Majority and its fellow travelers knocking on doors, pounding pavement, and writing checks to keep Republicans ascendant in Washington. As the party’s stance on taxes, foreign policy, and domestic spending drifted closer to Goldwater and further from the political center, it was Tony Perkins — not Milton Friedman — making sure the GOP held onto its 51 percent.
Goldwater might consider it a Faustian bargain, but we’ve no reason to think Paul Ryan would agree. As his recent appearance at the Family Research Council’s annual Values Voters summit attested, Ryan’s a man of the entire Republican Party. He doesn’t pick and choose. It’s a kind of intellectual ecumenicalism that would’ve had the doctrinaire Goldwater grinding his teeth in frustration. But Goldwater lost. He lost big. Ryan may often write, talk, and think like Goldwater — but he’ll be damned if he’s going to lose like him, too.
Nothing wrong with playing for Team Conservative. I think more liberals should try to play for Team
Conservative LIberal and stop all the “to be fair my conservative colleague David” totebag bullshit.
But Ryan is portrayed as man of great principle. If advancing the cause of the People’s Glorious Conservative Revolution — regardless of what policy choices that entails — counts as a great principle, then that is accurate, I suppose.