The Corner

‘Playing a Jack Kemp–like role’

In mid-June, I spoke with Ryan about 2012:

Ryan aims to be the cycle’s supply-side champion, playing a Jack Kemp–like role to the party nominee, informing them on economics and battling alongside them, as a happy warrior, for tough medicine. “What I can do is help to raise the standards,” he says.

He will not issue specific challenges to the contenders — “I think that kind of thing is petty” — but he will urge them to seriously evaluate the country’s fiscal and economic condition, and the solutions outlined in the House GOP budget that passed earlier this year.

“Look, there are other ways of dealing with these problems, but if you are a conservative, if you believe in limited government and free markets, it has to look something like this, or otherwise you will be using a big-government solution,” Ryan says. “With all of those details, there is plenty of room for debate. We should have a healthy debate. We should all keep our minds open about how to keep our principles and figure this out.”

Ryan enjoys getting into the weeds on policy, but when it comes to the 2012 presidential campaign, he does not want to see bickering over minutia. Fiscal numbers, of course, are very important to him, but getting the party to embrace “big ideas” is paramount.

Ryan recalls that Kemp, a late congressman and the GOP’s 1996 vice-presidential nominee, taught him about how to frame conservative policies on the national stage. Before Ryan first ran for Congress in 1998, he spent nearly a decade in Washington as a speechwriter and policy director on Capitol Hill. Early on, he joined Kemp’s think tank, Empower America.

“He taught me that big ideas are the best politics,” Ryan says. “They will always be challenged, and they will sometimes be controversial, but you have to do what you think is right, what you’re passionate about, and be a strong advocate for it. If you do that, you can shift the debate in major ways. He showed me how you can do that.

More here.

Robert Costa — Robert Costa is National Review's Washington editor and a CNBC political analyst. He manages NR's Capitol Hill bureau and covers the White House, Congress, and national campaigns. ...

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More