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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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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