Peggy Noonan has been listening to Paul Ryan. And Paul Ryan has been talking about Barack Obama. Noonan (re)confirms that she likes what she hears from Ryan in this weekend's WSJ.
This week [Ryan] spoke on "The American Idea" at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. He scored the president as too small for the moment, as "petty" in his arguments and avoidant of the decisions entailed in leadership. At times like this, he said, "the temptation to exploit fear and envy returns." Politicians divide in order to "evade responsibility for their failures" and to advance their interests.
The president, he said, has made a shift in his appeal to the electorate. "Instead of appealing to the hope and optimism that were hallmarks of his first campaign, he has launched his second campaign by preying on the emotions of fear, envy and resentment."
But Ryan also had harsh criticism of conservative sacred cows.
. . . Republicans, in their desire to defend free economic activity, shouldn't be snookered by unthinking fealty to big business. They should never defend--they should actively oppose--the kind of economic activity that has contributed so heavily to the crisis. Here Mr. Ryan slammed "corporate welfare and crony capitalism."
Ryan articulates an interesting blend of liberal anti-wealth and conservative anti-spending sentiments by addressing government spending as benefiting the rich (rather than, as liberals would have it, the poor). Ryan casts Democrats - historically the party of big government - as the party of big government and big business.
Rather than raise taxes on individuals, we should "lower the amount of government spending the wealthy now receive." The "true sources of inequity in this country," he continued, are "corporate welfare that enriches the powerful, and empty promises that betray the powerless." The real class warfare that threatens us is "a class of bureaucrats and connected crony capitalists trying to rise above the rest of us, call the shots, rig the rules, and preserve their place atop society."
Noonan observes that the American zeitgeist exhibits fear of division and posits that we may be "living through the moment we'll look back on as the beginning of the Great Coming Apart." Yet where Obama has abandoned the hope of his former campaign and flung himself into the widening rift of social division, Ryan is an island of calm rationalism.
If more Republicans thought--and spoke--like this, the party would flourish. People would be less fearful for the future. And Mr. Obama wouldn't be seeing his numbers go up.