Paul Ryan and The Stench

People are commenting on the latest Roger Simon column as if it’s supposed to be read literally. I think Simon is going in for humorous exaggeration:

Paul Ryan has gone rogue. He is unleashed, unchained, off the hook.

“I hate to say this, but if Ryan wants to run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him,” Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Republican Party of Iowa, told The New York Times on Sunday.

Coming from a resident of Iowa, a state where people are polite even to soybeans, this was a powerful condemnation of the Republican nominee.

Though Ryan had already decided to distance himself from the floundering Romney campaign, he now feels totally uninhibited. Reportedly, he has been marching around his campaign bus, saying things like, “If Stench calls, take a message” and “Tell Stench I’m having finger sandwiches with Peggy Noonan and will text him later.”

Not that I’d disagree with Slinky, Jr., that The Stench is an even better label for his running-mate than Slinky. But that’s part of why I don’t believe that the story is meant seriously; a scenario that involves Paul Ryan saying something true lacks surface plausibility.

The larger story hear is the astounding dissing of the (semi) Human Etch-a-Sketch by mainstream political reporters. This is the way Mondale and Dukakis and Gore and Kerry were treated, but – aside from McCain at the very end – I don’t recall a Republican Presidential candidate getting anything resembling this sort of treatment.

I very much doubt that Romney is a worse human being, or would make a worse President, than GWB. But reporters and pundits really, really loathe him, and it’s showing. For once, liberal media bias isn’t just a fairy story, though I don’t think the hard time Romney is getting has much to do with his political views.

Update Buzzfeed confirms with Simon that this was supposed to be a joke.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

23 thoughts on “Paul Ryan and The Stench”

  1. It would be difficult to dislike Romney for his political views since he’s professed nearly all of them. The two core principles that I can detect are “tax cuts for rich people” and “I want the big prize.” Beyond that he’s kind of biblical in his self-contradiction.

  2. “I don’t think the hard time Romney is getting has much to do with his political views.” I agree; he’s acting like a patrician Christie, and being an a****le like Christie doesn’t go well with his patrician veneer. [In fact, the veneer has been sanded a few times too many, letting his true character show.]

  3. The reason that so many news outlets believed that it was an actual news story rather than an attempt at satire is that the obvious satirical portions of the article did not appear until the second webpage of the piece.

    Note: In the initial draft of the previous sentence I had used the word “actual” instead of “obvious.” The concept of eating Irish babies, for instance, is satirical cause it is obviously false and no one would ever seriously suggest it. Using it as a faux “modest proposal” makes it satire because it holds someone or something up to ridicule.

    Because the Simon article was based upon an actual quote that Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Iowa Republican Party gave to the New York Times over the weekend (“I hate to say this, but if Ryan wants to run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him.”), the Simon piece was not “actual” satire (as opposed to not “obvious” satire) except in the sense that it states that Ryan adopted Robinson’s analysis and then applied the word “stench” as a synonym for his running mate. In other words, the article, at least with respect to Ryan/Romney/Stench, is not satire since at least one other highly ranked Republican operative had previously, seriously, applied the term to Romney.

    And the stuff on the second page of the Simon article about Microsoft inventing PowerPoint as a method to more humanely slaughter cattle is, of course, true.

  4. I think Simon is going in for humorous exaggeration:

    It was a troll. A *proper* troll. (Troll means something like ‘punked’ but much less mean.) And it was a well-done troll as well. (And I don’t like Simon, but hey, he did it right.) It appears to have been an *unintentional* troll. But it was a really great troll anyways. (It hooked lots of R’s as well, judging by the comments on the piece.)

    I very much doubt that Romney is a worse human being, or would make a worse President, than GWB.

    I’m on the opposite side of the fence here. Romney appears to have all the nastier qualities of Bush without the ability to empathize (which Bush could do from time to time) or any of the humility. This is not intended as a compliment to Bush. Ergo Bush minus AA = Romney.

    Everyone has argued that Romney did the health care thing in Mass. because he was a good guy, but it appears to me that he did it because his wife was sick, and the D’s in the Lege were going to do something anyways, so why not come up with a plan to protect the income of insurance companies and make sure Romney was not inconvenienced by trying to get insurance for his wife. Plus, it looked good on the resume. It’s all about Mitt Romney.

    But reporters and pundits really, really loathe him, and it’s showing.

    As near as I can tell, most people don’t like Romney. They’ll support him as the R nominee, but that’s it.

    [‘His appeal seems to be entirely restricted to the upper crust – left or right.’]

    1. No. He didn’t do it because his wife was sick.

      FIrst, he can obviously afford the bills.

      Second, even if he couldn’t it wouldn’t have mattered. Before Romney MA had guaranteed issue and community rating. A health insurance application asked little more than name, address, age, and whether you were a permanent resident of MA. So insurance was available.

      1. Oh, Romney is worse than GWB. Dear Lord, I never thought I would say that about any candidate with regard to W. But that reptilian gleam — oh, no. It’s quite a bit worse.

  5. It was always clearly a joking reference to the “Stench” quote that had gotten so much coverage. But even so, it was a clear sign that the quote, and the general sense of the race and of Romney’s future significance within the party that it conveys, had really gotten under Ryan’s skin, that it was something he couldn’t simply dismiss.

  6. I don’t think this is liberal media bias — many of the reporters who savaged Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry shared their politics — but the damp finger in the wind telling them who it is safe to treat with contempt. They see whose blood is in the water and join the feeding frenzy.

    1. Exactly. Research on bullying shows that without education and intervention, most kids will cheer the bully (and even take a shot or two at the victim. If you’re a next possible target of the Alpha, make sure you’re on his good side, don’tchaknow). It’s remarkable how so much of what passes for “the press” in this country fits this primitive model. Maybe they’re geeks unleashed, arrogating status through proximity and obsequiousness. Maybe DC and its satellites are largely cesspools of emotional middle schoolers drunk on power and money. Maybe this county’s fetishization of radical individualism produces in fact the exact opposite – a deeply closeted (and thus highly distorted), intensely anxious need for community, the only culturally allowed expression of which being thoughtless, primitive aggression. If I were to design a system to maintain the unquestioned and largely unnoticed primacy of capital, I don’t think I could do better than our current mainstream media.

  7. The problem with Simon’s satire is it’s unclear what he’s satirizing. Is he mocking Robinson? I mean, Romney’s aura really does carry a stench in most quarters, and Simon doesn’t seem to disagree. Is he satirizing Romney? I can’t tell.

  8. Roger Simon finally wrote something that got noticed. Mostly because few people can tell the difference between him being “serious” and being “funny,” but noticed nevertheless.

  9. “Tell Stench I’m having finger sandwiches with Peggy Noonan and will text him later.”

    The guy’s got a nose for free lunches….

    I think we’d all feel a little better about Ryan if he gave up his government healthcare/paycheck as a matter of principle…
    Isn’t it way past time for one of these Ayn Rand slobs to actually walk the walk?

  10. I don’t get the satire here. We don’t really know much about Ryan personally and we have no idea what he really thinks about Romney or what their relationship is, so there was no reason to disbelieve a story coming from an established reporter. It wouldn’t be surprising to discover that Ryan despised Romney as much as most of the rest of the political professionals do.

    And the reason why Romney is so dissed by the media is because they recognize that he is completely lacking in any political philosophy or principle and is entirely about his ambition to be President. That’s unusual in our recent political history, even though politicians generally are ambitious.

  11. Seems to me the ‘satire’ was a flop, in that folks took it as truth. Didn’t seem like an April Fools prank.
    Should teach us to take as gospel _anything_ from politico.

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