Obama Says Ayn Rand Is For ‘Misunderstood’ Teenagers

According to a Rolling Stone interview released yesterday, President Obama does not have much respect for Libertarian & free market icon Ayn Rand. The interview, conducted by professor and historian Douglas Brinkley, featured some fair tough questioning.

One rather unique question covered the writings of Ayn Rand, whom GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has expressed affinity for. Obama attacks Ryan over this, noting someone should grow out of any Ayn Rand phase once they are beyond a “misunderstood” teenager stage.

Q: Have you ever read Ayn Rand?

Obama: Sure.

Q: What do you think Paul Ryan’s obsession with her work would mean if he were vice president?

Obama: Well, you’d have to ask Paul Ryan what that means to him. Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we’d pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we’re only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we’re considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity – that that’s a pretty narrow vision. It’s not one that, I think, describes what’s best in America. Unfortunately, it does seem as if sometimes that vision of a “you’re on your own” society has consumed a big chunk of the Republican Party.

Read more here.

What Liberals Don’t Understand About Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand, the Russian-born writer and self-styled philosopher who died three decades ago, is back in the news as a favorite author of Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. In recent years, the passionately individualist, pro-capitalist Rand has been embraced as a champion of freedom by many conservatives and libertarians, and denounced as a prophet of greed and narcissism by many liberals. Yet, if Rand admirers tend to ignore the flaws of her vision, her detractors reduce her to grotesque caricature—and invoke her popularity as proof of right-wing nuttiness.

One major misconception is that Rand worshipped the rich and saw moneymaking as life’s highest goal. In fact, most wealthy characters in her novels are pathetic, repulsive, or both: businessmen fattened on shady deals or government perks, society people who fill their empty lives with luxury. (There are also sympathetic poor and working-class characters.)

In The Fountainhead, Rand’s first bestseller (and best novel), the hero, architect Howard Roark, describes “the man whose sole aim is to make money” as a variety of “the second-hander” who lives through others, seeking only to impress with his wealth. Roark himself turns down lucrative jobs rather than sacrifice his artistic integrity, at one point finding himself penniless.

Rand extolled “selfishness,” but not quite in its common meaning. (To some extent, she was using the now-familiar confrontational tactic of turning a slur against a stigmatized group—in this case, true individualists—into a badge of pride.) Roark’s foil, the social-climbing opportunist Peter Keating, gives up both the work and the woman he truly loves for career advancement. Most people, Rand says, would condemn Keating as “selfish”; yet his real problem is lack of self.

Read more here.

Lefty Attack: Paul Ryan a Follower of Ayn Rand

It was only minutes after news broke that Paul Ryan was Romney’s likely pick for Vice President that leftwingers on Twitter began to needle Ryan as a follower of that mean ol’ Ayn Rand, the famed objectivist philosopher of the middle of last century most famous for writing Atlas Shrugged and for being a proponent of what the left says is a less than compassionate philosophy on humanity.

There is a mistaken belief on the left that Paul Ryan was somehow programmed by Ayn Rand and that his entire budget plan, his Roadmap For America’s Future, is somehow one great Randian, or worse Darwinian, exercise in the survival of the strongest. The left also chides him for later turning his back on Rand and pretending his ideas really aren’t driven by what they consider to be Ayn Rand’s mean-spirited philosophy.

Neither claim is true.

The whole discussion began in 2005 when Paul Ryan gave a presentation before The Atlas Society, an organization dedicated to the ideas of Ayn Rand. Ryan was quite effusive about Rand’s work, for sure. A full audio for the meeting is posted at the Society’s website and on it you can hear Ryan really expressing a great enthusiasm for Rand.

Read more here.

Ignorance Among Us

Letter to the editor in the Daily Times:

How am I not like the Worcester County TEA Party? Let me count the ways.

» My lifelong philosophy is to work for the greater good and care for the least of my brothers and sisters. The writings of Ayn Rand, which disavow ethical altruism, never appealed to me.

» The TEA Party approves layoffs for public employees in the name of fiscal health. This leaves us vulnerable to future social problems, which does not seem wise.

» Government, formed from ancient Greek and Roman ideals familiar to our founders, protects and uplifts citizens. Differing opinions lead to compromises and the greater good is served. Often imperfect, this system served us well more than 200 years. The TEA Party seems to feel compromise is a filthy word.

» Elected officials take an oath to uphold our Constitution, for the good of the people. I am not like tea partiers who evidently approve of their representatives signing an oath to a lobbyist that they will never raise taxes, ever. It’s different, however, when confronted with a need to cut taxes for the working class. Fortunately, reason prevailed — or was it because Christmas was coming fast and party pragmatists put their feet down?

» In 2009, when the tea party movement hit our consciousness, the sight of citizens shouting down other citizens at public meetings made me uneasy and disgusted. I could not have participated in that because I am not like TEA Party members.

As much as I would like to play Kumbayah this holiday season, I am not like Carol Frazier. Our worldviews are poles apart.

Barbara Doyle Schmid

Ocean Pines

CPAC Gets Sneak Peek of New ‘Atlas Shrugged’ Film

Conservative activists poured into a standing-room-only hotel conference room Friday afternoon for a brief glimpse of the long-awaited movie adaptation of “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand‘s 1957 philosophical novel about how government intervention and collectivism wipe out society’s creativity, innovation and industry.

The Washington Post quite rightly compared the scene to a screening of Harry Potter at Comic-Con.

Appropriately enough, the film is set to debut April 15 and filmmakers were on scene to promote it to some of the country’s most die-hard Rand supporters. “Hollywood does not think enough people” are interested in the message of “Atlas Shrugged,” executive producer Harmon Kaslow announced to the room. But with support of CPAC-goers, growing demand for the film could prove them wrong.

Like the book, the film is set in the not-too-distant future. American Spectator’s Philip Klein was privileged to preview a few choice scenes on Thursday night and says filmmakers went for a “ripped from the headlines” feel, with “images of the economy tanking, the country’s infrastructure collapsing, protests raging in the streets, Congress passing statist legislation, and a TV news anchor leading a panel discussion between some of the book’s characters.”

“It is a movie that freedom fighters have been waiting decades for,” said Max Pappas, the vice president of public policy for FreedomWorks, which co-sponsored the CPAC screening. “I‘m pretty sure that it’s the best-selling book of the 20th century that has not yet been made into a movie.”

With sufficient support and financial backing, the filmmakers hope “Atlas Shrugged: Part I” will be followed by two sequels.