Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Their Fathers’ Sons

 

In his lyrical and heartfelt introduction of his running mate, Governor Mitt Romney said one thing that particularly struck me. Romney spoke of Wisconsin Congressman and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s Midwestern background, and how it instilled in him a devotion and love of America. And then Romney said—in a brief biographical note—that Ryan’s father had passed away when he was young.

That’s when it hit me. The fall contest will be more Obama v. Ryan than Obama v. Romney. Obama and Ryan are the same generation, although Obama is several years older. They’re both hip and cool. They’re both gym rats. And they’re both the intellectual leaders of their movements. The battle will be focused on these two personalities and the ideas and policies for which they stand.

That’s why it struck me as incredibly telling that both men also had fathers who left them at an early age. Obama’s father checked out and left the family when Barack was just a toddler. He later died in an alcohol-related car crash in Kenya, where he had returned to assist the socialist movement (advocating socialized medicine and a 100 percent tax rate). Ryan’s father passed away when he was a teenager.

After losing their fathers, these men chose very different paths. Obama became a stoner, the leader of a dope group nicknamed the “Choom Gang.” Later, he copped to doing “a little blow.” As he’s said himself, he went on to seek out the Marxist professors and students at school, became an Alinskyite, rabble-rousing socialism advocate that went under the euphemism “community organizer,” and befriended anti-American radicals such as Bill Ayers, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and Rashid Khalidi. After brief stints in the Illinois State Senate (where he voted “present” much of the time) and the U.S. Senate (where he was classified as the most liberal member, sitting to the left of the only self-described socialist in the chamber, Senator Bernie Sanders), he became president and took the country on a redistributionist joyride, creating a tornado-like path of destruction.

By contrast, when Ryan’s father died, teenage Paul became the leader of his family. He took care of his grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, so that his mother could go back to school in order to get a better job. He worked all hours to support his family, even working for Oscar Meyer selling hot dogs and Lunchables. Rumor has it he even drove the Weinermobile. He went on to serve his community as the youngest member of Congress (the year he was elected), rose to prominence for his intellectual rigor and honesty, and became the House Budget Chairman, a position from which he proposed two courageous and honest budgets to save America from fiscal ruin.

So let’s see: Both boys faced the trauma of losing a father. One chose to be a professional grievance identifier, trafficking in teaching victimization and cultivating dependency on government. The other chose a path of self-sufficiency for himself, his family, and the nation; a road of self-determination, independence, and freedom — in other words, the road the Founders so painstakingly gave each one of us.

When Obama speaks of the “fundamental transformation” of the nation, he means remaking America in the image of his father’s socialist dreams. When Ryan speaks of “fundamentally restoring” the nation, he means moving America back to the nation of his father, in which individual responsibility, limited government, fiscal sanity, and economic freedom prevailed.

These are the competing visions for America. And they both began with men who disappeared from their sons’ lives many years ago, leaving them with their animating spirits. The fate of the country will rest with which path we choose on November 6.

There are 36 comments.

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  1. tabula rasa Member
    tabula rasa Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Beautiful contrast. I would add another. One chose to view the world from the perch of the “intellectual elite,” a place where one’s nose is perpetually in the air. The other chose to embrace the solid ground of middle America, feet on the ground, one of the people, with an anti-Utopian perspective on life.

    Isn’t it odd that the “so-called” party of the people is run by intellectual elites, while the party of the fat cats is filled with people like Paul Ryan?

    • #1
    • August 14, 2012, at 11:23 AM PDT
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  2. David Williamson Inactive
    Monica Crowley: And they’re both the intellectual leaders of their movements. 

    That might be a bit of a stretch in Mr Obama’s case, as he is simply parroting his mentors. His only originality is in the re-packaging, to hide the original contents. 

    • #2
    • August 14, 2012, at 11:55 AM PDT
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  3. Ward Inactive

    Reading this wonderful contrast the case is so compelling I cannot imagine why anyone would vote for Obama and yet he got elected…the phrase “what a country” may begin to take on a whole new meaning though I fervently hope it does not.

    • #3
    • August 14, 2012, at 11:58 AM PDT
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  4. Mel Foil Inactive

    Or, you could say, they both became the kind of men that their mothers admired.

    • #4
    • August 14, 2012, at 11:58 AM PDT
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  5. captainpower Inactive
    Monica Crowley: 

    That’s why it struck me as incredibly telling that both men also had fathers who left them at an early age. Obama’s father checked out and left the family when Barack was just a toddler. 

    … 

    Ryan’s father passed away when he was a teenager.

    After losing their fathers, these men chose very different paths. 

     · · 1 hour ago

    Gotta disagree with you there.

    It’s not like they were in the same situation and made opposite choices.

    If you are going to compare backgrounds and contrast each man’s reaction, I think it only fair to point out the dissimilarity between the backgrounds.

    There’s a pretty big difference between no father and 16 years of a good father.

    President Barack Obama’s father was absent.

    Based on the results, I’m going to guess Congerssman Paul Ryan’s father provided him enough direction in 16 years to last him a lifetime.

    • #5
    • August 15, 2012, at 1:15 AM PDT
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  6. Nathaniel Wright Member
    Nathaniel Wright Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Monica,

    I know that Generation X isn’t set in stone with regard to its dates, but I consider Obama to be a late end Boomer and Ryan to be a Gen X-er. A part of this is because of the age that each candidate would have been during the Reagan Administration.

    Ryan was in his pre-teen and teen years when Reagan was President, Obama was in his 20s. I think that being a pre-teen and teen during the Reagan Administration did a lot to shape me politically. The same as it would have if I were a pre-teen and teen during the Nixon Watergate scandal and the Carter years.

    They are very much products of different Generations.

    • #6
    • August 15, 2012, at 1:39 AM PDT
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  7. ChuckMenoFalls Inactive
    The King Prawn
    Monica Crowley:

    The fall contest will be more Obama v. Ryan than Obama v. Romney.

    This begs the question, are we doing it wrong? Why is our headliner being overshadowed by his understudy? · 1 hour ago

    To enable the 16 year presidency…

    • #7
    • August 15, 2012, at 1:45 AM PDT
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  8. ChuckMenoFalls Inactive
    Monica Crowley:

    As he’s said himself, he went on to seek out the Marxist professors and students at school, became an Alinskyite, rabble-rousing socialism advocate that went under the euphemism “community organizer,” and befriended anti-American radicals such as Bill Ayers, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and Rashid Khalidi. 

    That would be, the domestic terrorist, Bill Ayers.

    • #8
    • August 15, 2012, at 1:49 AM PDT
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  9. DocJay Inactive

    I’d add another contrast. Barack Obama has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Paul Ryan is a real human being. One craves acknowledgement of his natural superiority and anyone who challenges that is spit upon viciously. The other leads by example, wants the best for our country and is willing to discuss and debate those who criticize him.

    • #9
    • August 15, 2012, at 3:42 AM PDT
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  10. KC Mulville Inactive

    Teddy Kennedy used to say that his father was the motivator to succeed, but the father didn’t care where they succeeded. It was his mother who drew them to do it in politics.

    You’d wonder whether the reverse is true with women, but Nancy Pelosi gives the lie to that (her father was Mr. Politics in Baltimore for many years). 

    • #10
    • August 15, 2012, at 3:45 AM PDT
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  11. BrentB67 Inactive
    Monica Crowley
    The King Prawn
    Monica Crowley:

    The fall contest will be more Obama v. Ryan than Obama v. Romney.

    This raises the question, are we doing it wrong? Why is our headliner being overshadowed by his understudy?

    Edited 4 hours ago

    Not overshadowed. Enhanced. · 8 hours ago

    Edited 8 hours ago

    I am not sure it is a good thing to have so many looking at the wingman for the direction of the flight.

    • #11
    • August 15, 2012, at 4:23 AM PDT
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  12. Red Feline Inactive

    Welcome, Monica!

    You have spelled out so clearly the differences between Ryan and Obama. Ryan, a true American wanting to restore America to its past freedoms as visioned by the Founders, Obama, a follower of European thought, an Utopian with the apparent vision of a “changed” America lying in ruins as a result of sentimental, unrealistic thinking. 

    May the American people see the differences as clearly, and choose for liberty.

    • #12
    • August 15, 2012, at 5:41 AM PDT
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  13. flownover Inactive

    Obama’s path was through a hallway of gifts, assistance , grade inflation , false promotion , and jobs subsidy ( for him and Michelle) .

    Ryan’s is a shorter ,harder path . We know it as the ” school of hard knocks “. 

    We appreciate your lapidary prose.

    • #13
    • August 15, 2012, at 5:45 AM PDT
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  14. tigerlily Member
    David Williamson
    Monica Crowley: And they’re both the intellectual leaders of their movements. 

    That might be a bit of a stretch in Mr Obama’s case, as he is simply parroting his mentors. His only originality is in the re-packaging, to hide the original contents. · 6 hours ago

    Edited 6 hours ago

    You beat me to the punch. Obama is only a poseur. I get the impression he has never seriously thought through his political beliefs. Also, I don’t know who would be considered the intellectual leader of today’s left (Paul Krugman?); but, any such individual, if honest in their public pronouncements, would be unable to gather more than 20 percent of the vote in a national election. By contrast, a conservative intellectual leader (like Ryan) is capable of winning a clear majority in a national election as long as they also have the political chops.

    • #14
    • August 15, 2012, at 6:14 AM PDT
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  15. Cornelius Julius Sebastian Inactive

    Fantastic post. The comparison could hardly be more stark or telling.

    • #15
    • August 15, 2012, at 7:11 AM PDT
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  16. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I think kids are less hurt by the death of a father than they are by his absence for some other reasons.

    • #16
    • August 15, 2012, at 7:15 AM PDT
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  17. dittoheadadt Inactive

    What David said at #2 and DocJay said at #13.

    And Obama plays far more golf than basketball. He’s no gym rat.

    • #17
    • August 15, 2012, at 7:19 AM PDT
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  18. Monica Crowley Contributor
    Monica Crowley

    Hi guys! Great to read all of your comments—thank you! I’m thrilled that you found the piece so insightful. I think the fact that these two men chose radically different paths after they faced a similar childhood trauma is fascinating and telling. And it’s quite the backdrop for the 2012 battle royale.

    • #18
    • August 15, 2012, at 7:37 AM PDT
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  19. Monica Crowley Contributor
    Monica Crowley
    Capt. Aubrey: Reading this wonderful contrast the case is so compelling I cannot imagine why anyone would vote for Obama and yet he got elected…the phrase “what a country” may begin to take on a whole new meaning though I fervently hope it does not. ”

    Amen!

    • #19
    • August 15, 2012, at 7:39 AM PDT
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  20. Monica Crowley Contributor
    Monica Crowley
    Brasidas: Great inaugural post, Monica. Like tabula rasa, I love the way you’ve laid out the distinctions in the paths and worldviews of the co-generationalists, Ryan and Obama.

    Thank you!

    • #20
    • August 15, 2012, at 7:40 AM PDT
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  21. Monica Crowley Contributor
    Monica Crowley
    Mel Foil: Or, you could say, they both became the kind of men that their mothers admired.

    So interesting. Yes!

    • #21
    • August 15, 2012, at 7:42 AM PDT
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  22. Monica Crowley Contributor
    Monica Crowley
    tabula rasa: Beautiful contrast. I would add another. One chose to view the world from the perch of the “intellectual elite,” a place where one’s nose is perpetually in the air. The other chose to embrace the solid ground of middle America, feet on the ground, one of the people, with an anti-Utopian perspective on life.

    That’s it!

    • #22
    • August 15, 2012, at 7:43 AM PDT
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  23. Monica Crowley Contributor
    Monica Crowley
    The King Prawn
    Monica Crowley:

    The fall contest will be more Obama v. Ryan than Obama v. Romney.

    This raises the question, are we doing it wrong? Why is our headliner being overshadowed by his understudy?

    Edited 4 hours ago

    Not overshadowed. Enhanced.

    • #23
    • August 15, 2012, at 7:45 AM PDT
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  24. Monica Crowley Contributor
    Monica Crowley
    captainpower
    Monica Crowley: 

    That’s why it struck me as incredibly telling that both men also had fathers who left them at an early age. Obama’s father checked out and left the family when Barack was just a toddler. 

    … 

    Ryan’s father passed away when he was a teenager.

    After losing their fathers, these men chose very different paths. 

     · · 1 hour ago

    Based on the results, I’m going to guess Congerssman Paul Ryan’s father provided him enough direction in 16 years to last him a lifetime.

    Indeed. But so did Obama’s father.

    • #24
    • August 15, 2012, at 7:47 AM PDT
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  25. Monica Crowley Contributor
    Monica Crowley
    MJB Wolf: Excellent analysis from Monica Crowley, the one Crowley we all wish could moderate a debate this Fall.  

    Thanks. For a moment, after I heard the name “Crowley” announced, I thought it was moi. Just kiddin’. They’d never choose a conservative.

    • #25
    • August 15, 2012, at 7:49 AM PDT
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  26. Great Ghost of Gödel Inactive
    Monica Crowley
    MJB Wolf: Excellent analysis from Monica Crowley, the one Crowley we all wish could moderate a debate this Fall.  

    Thanks. For a moment, after I heard the name “Crowley” announced, I thought it was moi. Just kiddin’. They’d never choose a conservative.

    The Crowley the Left would prefer to moderate their debates was named Aleister.

    • #26
    • August 15, 2012, at 8:22 AM PDT
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  27. Brasidas Member

    Great inaugural post, Monica. Like tabula rasa, I love the way you’ve laid out the distinctions in the paths and worldviews of the co-generationalists, Ryan and Obama.

    It’s interesting to think of Ryan and Obama as the intellectual leaders of their movements. While that may be true, Ryan is clearly more comfortable with both the overall principles and fine details of conservatism than Obama is with those of liberalism. Ryan seems more than happy to “take you to the deep end of the pool” on any issue (but, to his credit, does so in a way that doesn’t come across as pedantic). Witness his famous 6-minute takedown of Obamacare. Obama, however, is quite the opposite. Even though he’s an intellectual leader (figurehead?) of the Left, I have trouble imagining him defending the details of, say, Obamacare, at length or in response to challenging questions. I doubt he immerses himself to the depth that Ryan does in his material. He’ll duck behind “change is hard” banalities or strawmen that don’t require the kind of intellectual rigor that Ryan displays.

    It will be interesting to see if this distinction is probed going forward.

    • #27
    • August 15, 2012, at 12:03 PM PDT
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  28. The (apathetic) King Prawn Member
    Monica Crowley:

    The fall contest will be more Obama v. Ryan than Obama v. Romney.

    This raises the question, are we doing it wrong? Why is our headliner being overshadowed by his understudy?

    • #28
    • August 15, 2012, at 12:05 PM PDT
    • Like
  29. Ultron Will Inject You Now Coolidge
    Ultron Will Inject You Now Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    The King Prawn
    Monica Crowley:

    The fall contest will be more Obama v. Ryan than Obama v. Romney.

    This begs the question, are we doing it wrong? Why is our headliner being overshadowed by his understudy? · 4 minutes ago

    The essence of a good strategy is to always attack on 2 fronts.

    • #29
    • August 15, 2012, at 12:10 PM PDT
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  30. MJB Wolf Inactive

    Excellent analysis from Monica Crowley, the one Crowley we all wish could moderate a debate this Fall. As usual, Tabula Rasa nailed the imponderable in a way worthy of the late George Carlin. Nice one, Tab!

    • #30
    • August 15, 2012, at 12:20 PM PDT
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