Thursday, August 30, 2012

Catch of the Day

The catch goes to Paul Glastris, who (via Ed Kilgore) looked at Paul Ryan last night and saw Eddie Haskell.

That's perfect. If you young'ns don't remember, Eddie Haskell was Wally Cleaver's friend who was noted for "his unctuous politeness to adults and his weasly, sharp-tongued meanness to everybody else." The great thing about Eddie Haskell as a character, though, was how utterly phony his act was, and therefore how ineffective it was; Ward and June were never, if I recall correctly, even remotely tempted to fall for it. Which, of course, is pretty much how I feel about Ryan.

Kilgore also points us to Charles Pierce, who sees "there's a lot of old Dick Nixon in young Paul Ryan." That's not what he means, though, in that (as he explains) it's not the old Dick Nixon -- it's the young Nixon of the 1950s that's on display in Ryan, albeit one who didn't actually work his way up from nothing the way the real Richard Nixon did. Nor does Ryan, off screen, appear to have Nixon's incredible work ethic; and while Nixon's targets were hundreds and hundreds of local Republican big shots that he constantly tended to for decades until it finally paid off for good in 1968, Ryan's targets were the much smaller, albeit apparently just as easily duped, Republicans of the Washington conservative establishment plus some of the Washington press corps. No, it's no surprise that some of them are not as wise as Ward and June Cleaver.

The two are closely related; apparently Garry Wills didn't go with Eddie Haskell, who after all never did an honest day's work in his life -- which was hardly Nixon's story. Nixon, as Pierce says, earned his resentment the hard way. For Wills, Nixon is Dickens's unctuous Uriah Heep. Since I know Leave it to Beaver much better than I know David Copperfield (at least the one with two p's; I know about the other one), I won't comment further on it, except to say that Nixon Agonistes is as good a book as you're going to read about American politics and I can't recommend it highly enough.

At any rate, I'm supposed to be on Ryan here, and not making it all go back to Nixon all the time, but you know, sometimes that's just how it is. And: great catch!


  1. Actually, Joe Biden is Eddie Haskell. Always has been.

    Paul Ryan is Eddie Munster, in addition to being a lying racist. ;-)

    And I'd say the Obama presidency most resembles Tricky Dick's, now that you mention it. The same sort of devious unilateralism seems to prevail, with a dash of the Carter-as-messiah syndrome thrown in.

  2. You really have to go back to Tricky Dick's wage and price controls, and gold window shenanigans, piled up with everything else he did economically, to rival the type of presidential economic upheaval we're experiencing in this country today.

    1. So when do you guys go back to school again? I miss the troll-free discussions here.

    2. My guess is that they leave after the November election.

    3. Yeah, this place does come off as a lefty echo chamber, now that you mention it. ;-)

  3. I like the idea of Ryan as an off brand Nixon. And I really liked Pierce's point that "Richard Nixon would have resented this upstart on sight, and not just for stealing his act. He'd have had Bob Haldeman on Ryan's butt by morning." I feel like he has some Newt in him too: he makes up this fake personal history for himself, styles himself a wonk but seems to know little at all about the complexities of policy and his life's method seems to be building up a massive reputation with certain DC big feet in the press and political circles and then using that stage to try and built a cult of personality among what Krugman calls "Very Serious People." But I bet how Ryan really wanted to start his speech was with Steve Martin's opening lines from "The Jerk."

  4. Catch of the day really should go to Alyssa Rosenberg for this one:

  5. Is there any content whatsoever to this post beyond the fact that you don't like Paul Ryan?


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