The Spectacle Blog

Dave Weigel’s Unsatisfactory Reply on Ryan & Ayn Rand

By on 8.15.12 | 1:11PM

A couple of days ago, I pondered why the media is falling all over itself to examine Paul Ryan's intellectual influences (namely Ayn Rand) while this same media failed to show any curiosity about President Obama's intellectual influences (i.e. Saul Alinsky, Bill Ayers, Reverend Wright, Rashid Khalidi).

Well, Dave Weigel (who was amongst those who has been writing about the Ryan/Rand connection) replied in kind yesterday. I would have responded sooner but Weigel's response only came to my attention today while reading Seth Mandel's observations about the matter in Commentary.

While Weigel's reply is lengthy it is ultimately unsatisfactory because he didn't address the issue at hand. It's all well and good that Weigel read Atlas Shrugged in high school and subsequently worked at Reason magazine for 2½ years. While it does explain why Weigel is personally interested in the Ryan/Rand connection, it does not explain why the liberal media isn't interested in exploring President Obama's intellectual influences and that is the main point of my argument.

Again, I'm not arguing Weigel shouldn't explore this line of inquiry. Weigel argues that there's a crevasse when it comes to Christianity and Rand's Objectivism. Fine. But I would in turn argue that there's as deep as crevasse when it comes to Christianity and Marxism. Last I checked Marx wrote, "Religion is the opiate of the masses." Well, let's consider someone I haven't previously mentioned. One of President Obama's earliest intellectual influences was Frank Marshall Davis, a card carrying Communist. The AmSpec's own Paul Kengor has written a book about Davis titled The Communist and also discussed him in a recent TAS article. So why does The Washington Post, NPR, Newsday, The Los Angeles Times and Weigel's Slate see fit to discuss the Ryan/Rand connection but doesn't see fit to explore the Obama/Davis connection?

From where I sit, there are five reasons these liberal media outlets don't pursue this line of inquiry:

a) They don't care.

b) They don't want to know.

c) They consider such an inquiry to be racist.

d) They don't want to criticize Obama when they can criticize Romney and Ryan.

e) They want Obama to serve four more years in the White House.

At the risk of being accused of ignoring the substance of Weigel's argument, I have this to offer. A few years ago during a speech, Ryan made an offhand remark referencing John Galt's speech towards the end of Atlas Shrugged. Weigel describes Galt's speech as "one of the most aggressive arguments against Christianity you will ever read." Yet Weigel is also of the opinion that Ryan was "pandering". Indeed, Weigel ends his piece by stating, "I don't assign any of these beliefs to Ryan, but I'd love to hear him talk about them..." OK, so if Weigel believes that Ryan doesn't actually agree with the substance of Galt's speech then what is there for Ryan to talk about? It might very well be interesting but when it comes down to it isn't all that important. Well, whatever floats Weigel's boat. I think most people would rather hear Paul Ryan talk about balancing the budget, improving Medicare and offer other viable alternatives to the policies of President Obama than give an oral dissertation on Atlas Shrugged.

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