Political Animal


April 30, 2012 11:12 AM The Man, the Legend, the Catfish Noodler

By Ed Kilgore

I’d bet Jonathan Chait is cursing his bad luck at having finished writing his essay on “The Legendary Paul Ryan” before this Jonathan Weisman piece appeared in the New York Times, featuring the following lede:

Representative Paul D. Ryan strolls the halls of Capitol Hill with the anarchist band Rage Against the Machine pounding through his earbuds.
At 6:30 every morning, he leads an adoring cast of young, conservative members of Congress through exercise sessions in front of a televised trainer barking out orders. For fun, Mr. Ryan noodles catfish, catching them barehanded with a fist down their throats.
He may be, as a friend described him, “a hunting-obsessed gym rat,” but Mr. Ryan, 42, of Wisconsin, has become perhaps the most influential policy maker in the Republican Party, its de facto head of economic policy, intent on a fundamental transformation of the federal government.

Wow. Half-Wonk, Half-Jock. Half-Objectivist, Half-Catholic. Half-Punk, Half-Wall Street. Paul Ryan is like a projected fantasy of what every high school Young Republican wants to be when he grows up. No wonder GOPers and reporters alike are writing his name all over their notebooks.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Anon on April 30, 2012 11:20 AM:

    Half-Wonk, Half-Jock. Half-Objectivist, Half-Catholic. Half-Punk, Half-Wall Street.

    All shitbag.

  • howie on April 30, 2012 11:37 AM:

    Will the MSM ever stop idolizing this clown?

  • Hedda Peraz on April 30, 2012 11:38 AM:

    You say "Paul Ryan."
    He hears "Paul BUNYAN".

  • stormskies on April 30, 2012 11:46 AM:

    Well he is a 100% self appointed Zarathustra. As such, the unclean masses are expected to worship him, and those other self appointed Zarathustra's who worship at the alter of absolute greed and selfishness.

  • boatboy_srq on April 30, 2012 11:51 AM:

    Wasn't Gordon Gekko this cool for the first half hour of Wall Street?

  • ckelly on April 30, 2012 11:54 AM:

    That's a lotta halves. Paul Ryan, 3 people in 1.
    ...intent on a fundamental destruction of the federal government. . . as well as the economy, the middle class, working families, the impoverished...

  • goterpsgo on April 30, 2012 11:54 AM:

    Wow... I'm always listening to RATM on my iPod and their lyrics always give me the impression the band is AGAINST everything Paul Ryan is about. I guess irony is generally lost on conservatives since it took a while for them to catch onto Stephen Colbert.

  • c u n d gulag on April 30, 2012 11:59 AM:

    "For fun, Mr. Ryan noodles catfish, catching them barehanded with a fist down their throats."

    Ok, despite the fact that there's at least a dozen jokes here, I'm leaving this one alone.

  • SecularAnimist on April 30, 2012 12:07 PM:

    "For fun, Mr. Ryan noodles catfish, catching them barehanded with a fist down their throats."

    Interesting how many right-wing Republicans enjoy abusing animals "for fun".

    It's a trait they share with disturbed children who grow up to be serial killers.

  • 2Manchu on April 30, 2012 12:12 PM:

    "For fun, Mr. Ryan noodles catfish, catching them barehanded with a fist down their throats."

    Huh, and to think that I've been wasting all this time with fishing poles, line, hooks, and bait.

    I could just shove my hands into some murky water and hope to blindly grab a large fish with poison-filled barbs on their fins.

    And really, Rage Against the Machine? Has Ryan ever LISTENED to their lyrics?

    "Weapons not food, not homes, not shoes;
    Not need, just feed the war cannibal animal;
    I walk tha corner to tha rubble that used to be a library;
    Linin' to the mind cemetery now;
    What we don't know keeps tha contracts alive an movin';
    They don't gotta burn tha books they just remove 'em;
    While arms warehouses fill as quick as tha cells;
    Rally round tha family, pockets full of shells"

    - "Bulls on Parade"

  • Quaker in a Basement on April 30, 2012 12:18 PM:

    He forgot half-assed. Heh.

  • bluewave on April 30, 2012 12:24 PM:

    Apparently when Ryan listens to RATM, he hears not an outraged cry of protest, but a recipe for success. I mean, seriously, when you look at the lyrics 2Manchu quoted, it pretty much sounds like a right wing (I refuse to call these people conservatives) wet dream.

  • JEA on April 30, 2012 12:26 PM:

    Is there a point to this, Mr. Kilgore, or are we just making fun for the sake of making fun 'cause it's a slow news day and we have space to fill?

    I'm sure there are some liberal Dems who also frequent the gym, listen to Rage Against the Machine, and even catch catfish.

  • Ron Byers on April 30, 2012 12:30 PM:

    Back to back posts on Paul Ryan. Makes me want to vomit before lunch.

  • TGV on April 30, 2012 12:54 PM:


  • g on April 30, 2012 12:55 PM:

    That would be "Zombie-eyed Granny-starving catfish noodler."

  • Eisbaer on April 30, 2012 1:12 PM:

    Listening to Rage Against the Machine makes Paul Ryan a "punk"? Puhleaze -- wait'll he discovers the Dead Kennedys and misinterprets "Kill the Poor" as a Randroid call-to-arms.

  • lou on April 30, 2012 1:24 PM:

    the big questions to me: Does he eat those big catfish? Will he continue to eat those catfish after the radicals cut funding for the EPA and the midwest rivers become even more polluted than they already are from municipal and farmland effluents? There are damn few of these creeks and rivers I would feel comfortable swimming in or eating fish from. Noodlin' or hoggin' catfish does not a conservationist make.

  • TR on April 30, 2012 1:33 PM:

    Someone needs to direct this to the guys in RATM. I guarantee they'd write a special song called "Paul Ryan is an Evil Piece of Shit" just for him.

  • MuddyLee on April 30, 2012 2:05 PM:

    I would think that Paul Ryan and the freshman teaparty repubs that idolize him would be fans of the Butthole Surfers (just for the name of the group) and certainly Rush (because of the name and the lyrics: I will choose "free will") or maybe that guy who did the parodies for Rush Limbaugh during the Clinton presidency. Does anybody know if Mick Mulvaney is part of Paul Ryan's exercise class? Too bad Ryan isn't a Woody Guthrie fan....OK Bruce Springsteen might be better exercise music.

  • Nick on April 30, 2012 2:26 PM:

    You beat me to it, Anon!

  • DisgustedWithItAll on April 30, 2012 3:44 PM:

    Catfish aren't the only thing Ryan shoves his fist down. Seriously, though. I can't think of the man as anything other than a self-important, intellectually mediocre, cruel dick.

  • TooManyJens on April 30, 2012 4:45 PM:

    "I'm sure there are some liberal Dems who also frequent the gym, listen to Rage Against the Machine, and even catch catfish."

    And if the NYT writes silly, fawning mash notes about them, we'll probably mock those too.

    (Besides, at least Dems who listen to RATM might understand the band's message, which is apparently totally lost on the likes of Paul Ryan.)

  • Mark D on April 30, 2012 6:43 PM:

    Someone might want to inform Mr. Ryan that Rage Against the Machine are lefties, especially the lead singer:

    [Lead singer Zack] De la Rocha became one of the most visible champions of left-wing political causes around the world while advocating in favour of Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal, and supporting the Zapatista movement in Mexico. He spoke on the floor of the UN, testifying against the United States and its treatment of Abu-Jamal.

    Just another example of conservatives having no clue about ... well, anything.

  • Jeff B. on April 30, 2012 9:15 PM:

    "Half-Punk, Half-Wall Street" just underlines something I've been saying all my life. Establishment types ultimately LIKE punk, because it makes hippie-bashing cool. You punks out there may not like to hear that, but then punk (given that) is the biggest punking of all.

  • Doug on April 30, 2012 9:20 PM:

    Wonk? Ryan can't even add. Jock? Then so is Richard Simmons. Objectivist? Ayn Rand might have a few things to say about THAT! Catholic? I don't think that word means what Rep. Ryan thinks it does. Punk? Okay, so he's a punk. That's one. Wall Street? And this is a good thing? Even REPUBLICANS are p*ssed off at Wall Street!
    Those Republican "freshmen" DO realize don't they, that most important thing for ANY flim-flam artist is to APPEAR to be what he claims? Because said "artist" is usually exactly the opposite of the facade he's projecting.
    In other words, Rep. Ryan: loser...

  • Patrick Star on April 30, 2012 10:49 PM:

    The more the media punditocracy tries to shove Paul Ryan down my throat, the more I despise the guy.

  • Anonymous on April 30, 2012 10:50 PM:

    we shouldn't underestimate his appeals to young people and centrists/independents.
    i think he is made to be the republicans' idol, next reagan in training.

    every republican loves this guy. and every centrist or journalist shows him some respect (except for "radical liberals" like Paul Krugman).
    he is well liked by George Will types, tea partiers, Grover Norquist, the old Republican establishment types as well as young conservatives who are not socially conservative.

    i'm actually afraid of his popularity more than any republican right now.
    He is more dangerous than Romney, Rubio, Scoot Brown or Ron and Land Paul who either lacks personal appeal or intelligence.

    I'm saying this because i once liked him myself!
    i'm somewhat liberal but i don't hate anyone just because he/she is republican.
    i respect John Macain (especially in the past), tim pawlenty and christ christie while i disagree with many of their policies.

    he came off as a sincere, non-crazy, nice, articulate guy with legal and economics backgrounds. but i think he is a cold, social darwinist with a charming face.