Tonight's other big speech …

… will be delivered by a little-known Congressman, Paul Ryan, who also happens to be a practicing Catholic; his Wikipedia entry notes that he is “a member of St. John Vianney’s Parish” in Janesville, Wisconsin.

More on the man who will deliver the GOP response to the State of the Union, from the Wall Street Journal:

In Washington, Mr. Ryan’s speech will be closely watched not only because of his central role in the fight over federal spending. He also is seen as having higher political ambitions: Mr. Ryan is considered a possible candidate for the Senate in 2012 if Wisconsin Democrat Herb Kohl doesn’t run for re-election.

For now, Mr. Ryan’s platform is the hearing room of the House Budget Committee, from which he will broadcast his remarks Tuesday night. Republicans picked the venue to help draw a sharp contrast with Mr. Obama, who is expected to argue both for deficit reduction and for new government spending in areas such as education and infrastructure that he considers “investments” in economic growth.

In the past year, Mr. Ryan has gone toe-to-toe with Mr. Obama in high-profile venues. When the president a year ago addressed a conference of House Republicans in Baltimore, he called attention to Mr. Ryan’s “roadmap” and jousted with him over the plan’s details and implications. A month later, at a televised bipartisan summit on Mr. Obama’s health-care legislation, Mr. Ryan delivered a stinging critique of the bill to the president’s face.

At a time when his party has been swept to power in the House by anti-Washington feelings and the tea party, Mr. Ryan is an intellectual who has spent scant time working outside the Washington Beltway. He supported the Wall Street bailout that was a big spark behind the tea-party rebellion…

…Born in Janesville, Wis., Mr. Ryan went straight to Capitol Hill after college to work on the staff of his home-state senator, Republican Bob Kasten. After Mr. Kasten lost his re-election bid in 1992, Mr. Ryan went to work at Empower America, a Washington think tank, where he wrote speeches for Mr. Kemp and conservative thinker Bill Bennett.

He worked as a marketing consultant for his family earth-moving business for a couple of years, then returned to Capitol Hill to work for conservative Sam Brownback, who at the time was in the House.

Mr. Ryan, who won an open seat in Congress in 1998, lives in his hometown with his wife, Janna, and three young children. When asked about speculation that he may run for president, Mr. Ryan has been known to respond: “My head isn’t big enough, and my kids are too small.”

Read more about him here.

  • Dcn. Michael

    I find it interesting that Mr. Ryan’s Catholicism is touted as a promising example of a Catholic public servant when he has often very publicly stated that Ayn Rand motivated him to “public service”. Many fellow Catholics familiar with the centuries old teachings of our Church would find this perplexing if not astounding. Many who share this these teachings and their perspective would find Ms. Rand a sort of odd unchristian sociopath whose first principles are incompatible with the Gospel. It is clear that Mr. Ryan has strong beliefs…the intersting question is in just what. Lest you think that this is an odd hobby horse wooly headed socila justice types..have a look at Donald DeMarco’s assessment of Ms. Rand at the following link:

    http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/philosophy/ph0014.htm

  • HMS

    Dcn Michael:

    I was introduced to Ayn Rand by way of an 18 year old student of mine who was “besotted” by her. He influenced me to I looked into her ideas, and quite frankly, I was appalled by her ethics of rational self-interest and lifestyle. (I wonder how she would have responded to the self-sacrifice of the Monks of Tibhirine.)

    I am not very knowledgeable in economic theory but I have studied and taught Catholic Social Teachings (and the prophets of the Old Testament) as well as the bright shining lights of our Catholic tradition, who have spoken with words and actions against social injustices. (Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton …I could go on and on.)

    But here is my real point. Does Paul Ryan, a practicing Catholic, know about the above-mentioned essential aspects of our Catholic tradition? I would hope so. And I certainly would have wished that he had been motivated to enter public service by those influences.


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