Paul Ryan, the Republican Congressman from Wisconsin, was introduced this morning by the Heritage Foundation's Ed Feulner as the "future of the conservative movement," and Ryan rose to the occasion, I suppose, startling me back to the Reagan era, when communism was presented as the greatest threat to America's promise. Now, it's "European-style socialism," a term Ryan used repeatedly to strike fear in the hearts of all God-fearing conservatives.

Although Ryan was well into the speech before he named the president, it was quite early in the speech when he named the House Speaker, which is like an easy joke in conservative circles. Her name was invoked solely to jeer at her assertion that including money for contraception in the stimulus bill would ultimately save the government money. "The pretense that babies are a drain on our financial resources has always been one of the uglier aspects of liberalism," Ryan said. "People are not cause of this downturn, people are the answer to turning the economy around. The creation of more free minds is the only resource we have to make our economy grow." What a clever way to draw fiscal conservatives and anti-choice activists together!

I could see, though, why they're showcasing Ryan. He didn't brag about bagging moose or eating fried squirrels, but instead laid out a policy agenda he believes will revitalize conservatism out of the "wilderness." I don't know about that, but some fresh-faced young men just handed me a magazine with Ron Paul and Barack Obama arm-wrestling on the cover: "the battle for America's youth." That's all they got?

--Sarah Posner

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