I don’t imagine I’ll ever convince the Beltway establishment that its perceptions of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) are wrong. He’s seen as a deficit hawk, which he isn’t. He’s considered a whip-smart wonk, which isn’t true, either.
And Ryan is viewed as someone principally focused on fiscal and budget issues, when in fact, he remains an aggressive culture warrior.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) argued in a speech to activists Thursday night that robust opposition to abortion rights is crucial to the GOP’s political chances.
Ryan’s remarks to the Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List gala were his most extended on abortion since the 2012 election cycle, when several GOP candidates lost following controversial remarks on abortion and rape.
Ryan, the former GOP vice presidential nominee, acknowledged that a “careless remark or an ugly sign” can damage the cause against abortion rights “in an instant.” But he challenged the view that Republicans should soften their approach in order to attract centrist or female voters, who favored President Obama by more than 10 points in November.
“Our critics say we should abandon our pro-life beliefs. But that would only demoralize our voters,” Ryan told the right-wing organization. “It’s an odd strategy, I think: the cynical ploy followed by the thumping defeat.” The congressman added, “We don’t want a country where abortion is simply outlawed. We want a country where it isn’t even considered.”
No one should be surprised by this. Ryan’s social-issues agenda is often overlooked, but it’s as right-wing as nearly any member of Congress.
As we talked about several months ago, Ryan has, in recent years, fought against contraception access; he worked with Todd Akin to redefine rape; he said the government should force women impregnated by rape or incest to carry their pregnancies to term; he co-sponsored a “Personhood” measure that would ban in-vitro fertilization and some forms of birth control; and he twice voted for a constitutional amendment to prevent marriage equality.
Even after the electorate rejected him in 2012, Ryan returned to Congress and picked up where he left off.
Despite the deep unpopularity of fetal personhood bills in 2012, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has again decided to cosponsor the Sanctity of Human Life Act, a bill that gives full legal rights to human zygotes from the moment of fertilization.
Ryan, who reportedly has 2016 presidential ambitions, had to de-emphasize his opposition to abortion without exceptions during the 2012 election to align his position with presidential candidate Mitt Romney. But this year, Ryan has been tapped as a keynote speaker for the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List’s sixth annual Campaign for Life Gala, and he is re-upping his support for the most extreme anti-abortion legislation in the country.
Remember, the “Sanctity of Human Life Act” has no realistic chance of becoming law at any point in the next four years, but that obviously didn’t dissuade Ryan, who wants to be on record backing the extreme proposal anyway.
As an objective matter, Ryan’s voting record is roughly as far to the right as Michele Bachmann’s voting record. He just benefits from better public relations.