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Wed Aug 15, 2012, 09:12 AM

Conservatives Should Stop Giving Trophies for Trying [View all]

by Conor Friedersdorf


These days it's common for Republican politicians to become movement heroes without ever accomplishing anything. The highest praise is no longer reserved for figures who actually achieve policy victories, like reforming the tax code, beating back inflation, or improving America's position compared to hostile powers. Today results are unnecessary -- everyone who seems to be trying hard gets a trophy.

Consider some of the popular figures on the right in recent years. Joe the Plumber. Sarah Palin. Michele Bachmann. Herman Cain. They've achieved no more than criticizing liberals and extolling Tea Party ideals.
Rep. Paul Ryan has achieved more in government than any of them, even if you look past all of the ill-conceived votes he cast during the Bush Administration, irresponsible governance for which he has since apologized. So let's judge him based on his behavior in the Obama era. His entitlement reform and deficit-reduction proposals have impressed many on the right. Fair enough. Ryan has moved the national conversation in a direction they find beneficial. It would in fact be foolhardy to repudiate him over his past transgressions for lack of purity.
But why are many conservatives acting (as they did four years ago with Sarah Palin), as though he already belongs in the conservative hall of fame? As if he's already at the finish line with the flag waving? I don't get it. Why are they acting like he's already home? The canonization process begins with conservatives telling themselves a fake version of history that conveniently leaves out Ryan's apostasies, as if he's been completely principled all along.

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Reply Conservatives Should Stop Giving Trophies for Trying [View all]
Lucy Goosey Aug 2012 OP
monmouth Aug 2012 #1
yurbud Aug 2012 #2
center rising Aug 2012 #3