Derik Schneider Online

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

POLITICO Magazine: Jesse Rifkin- Paul Ryan and The Long History of Political Beards

This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

When I first saw new Speaker of The House Paul Ryan and his new beard I guess a week ago, I thought, ‘great, here’s another political faker wannabe. Someone who wants to fit in with the Millennial hipsters, or whoever else. And will follow whatever the current cool fad is.’ To be honest with you, I doubt he’s still wearing that beard a month from now. Sure! It will keep his face warm when he goes back to freezing Wisconsin and perhaps help him get through another disappointing Green Bay Packers playoff loss.

But he’s got to deal with both Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and to a certain extent House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, when she needs to him to bail him out on things like getting votes on things that the House Tea Party doesn’t believe in. Like paying for government, to use as an example. And paying our debts, which is really what the debt ceiling is about. Officially acknowledging that you have a government debt. He’s got to deal with people who are never afraid to crack a joke. Especially when they know that person can’t hurt them or fire them.

All of these leader’s all have quick-wits and sense of humors and he’s friendly with all of them. which could kill him with the Tea Party. The next handshake with President Obama, could cost Speaker Ryan his speakership. Senator Robert Bennet, who at the time at least was one of the most conservative members of Congress, lost his Senate seat in a Republican primary in 2010. Because he was caught shaking hands with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden. They’re all going to take shots at his beard, at least in private. And with Mitch McConnell, those shots might actually come from a gun. He’s from Guntucky after all.

I believe one of the things that Paul Ryan has going for him is that he comes off as real and as someone who Joe and Mary Average can relate to. He comes from an Midwestern Irish-Catholic background, who needed student loans to get through college. Whose had a government job most of his working life. This is not someone who comes off as being better than everyone else who feels he has something to prove. He’s someone who has worked very hard to get where he is, because he’s had to.

Unlike, gee I don’t know, just throwing out a name here, but try George W. Bush. Just to use as an example. And the Speaker’s beard to me as it does for a lot of guys who aren’t lumberjacks, or rednecks, or bikers, or cowboys, headbangers, football players, it just looks phony to me. And someone who looks like they want to be someone else. Paul Ryan, should be Paul Ryan. A very bright Irish-Catholic guy from Wisconsin whose gotten to the highest point in Congress by being Paul Ryan. Not by trying to convince people he’s someone other than Paul Ryan.