Paul Ryan Has Something He Wants to Sell You

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Rebecca Kaplan reports that Paul Ryan is “letting his wonk flag fly”:

It came to a head on Saturday, when he stepped to the podium for a town hall at the University of Central Florida. In addition to a debt clock — now a must-have prop at Republican political rallies — Ryan was flanked by two large screens that projected a favorite tool of academics and businessmen: a PowerPoint presentation.

Dave Weigel is unimpressed: “That’s all it takes? Four slides about the size of the debt?” I’m unimpressed, too, but for a different reason: do wonks really use PowerPoint? I think most of them would recoil in horror at the thought. PowerPoint decks are the favored tool of the well-coiffed marketing weenies, not the number crunchers. True wonks would be a lot more likely to either (a) spend hours lovingly kerning their equations in LaTeX and producing 3-D scatterplots in R, or (b) spend five minutes pounding out something unreadable in Emacs, accompanied by a crude line chart generated by some completely inappropriate shell script.

So then: Ryan isn’t a wonk. He’s a marketing weenie. And here’s a pro tip from a fellow member of the tribe: When you see a PowerPoint presentation, usually the first thing you should do is put your hand on your wallet. I think that’s good advice in Ryan’s case too. He’s not wonking out, he’s trying to sell you something.

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And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

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