Politics Roundup: GOP Field, Ryan on "Culture"

Monday, March 24, 2014

Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan on the campaign trail. (Getty)

Paul Ryan recently made remarks about "culture in our inner cities" that sparked a firestorm over race, responsibility, and the GOP's framing of economic issues as they begin to think about both this Fall's midterms and 2016's presidential election. Maggie Haberman, senior political reporter for Politico, discusses the Ryan remarks, her reporting on Hillary Clinton, and the week's national political headlines.


Maggie Haberman

Comments [21]


If you have to be African American in order to make comments about multi-generational poverty without being called a racist then we are all lost.

Likewise, if the only "acceptable" solution is to give more and more handouts, then we are really lost.

Mar. 26 2014 03:39 PM


You said that perhaps Paul Ryan revealed his "from the gut" feelings with the way he phrased his remarks. Perhaps you are revealing your "from the gut" feeling when criticize him. You try to be fair to all sides but sometimes "your gut" betrays you. Senator Moynihan wrote intelligently and sincerely about these problems years ago and got chastised as a racist.
As the lone white boy sitting in 1961 on a stoop with his black friends on 124th St and Park Avenue, I often looked up at the suburban commuters sitting in the trains. I wondered about them and their "richness." I wondered what they thought of us. I knew that schooling had something to do with their seeming success. Later as a closeted conservative teacher I started tutoring my upper west side students, literally almost 24/7, for the specialized High School Exam and New York State Math Regents exams. Dozens of my students were from the projects. In one year I raised my schools admissions to Bx. Science, Stuyvesant, and Brooklyn Tech from 1 to around 20. Instead of 12 kids in the whole school passing the math regents I had over 26 passing in my class alone, many with grades of 90 and over. If a student didn't make a specialized school, passing the math regents would get them into the next level math class at almost any school they got into. Their grade on the Math Regents would act as an unambiguous STATE WIDE CREDENTIAL that they could do advanced math, regardless of what the administrators might think of the student's capability otherwise. Their math placement would also most likely greatly increase the chances that their other classes were populated by students who had an work ethic.

A few years later the specialized high admission number reached 58 as middle-class white parents clamored to get into my program. A grade of 90 or even a 100 became routine on the Regents. This was all done without a dime of extra money spent by the government. Parent's donated their homes as tutoring sites. Perhaps the commuters and others could volunteer their math skills to help other students credential themselves in math. The hard part is to find a program that KNOWS EXACTLY what math skills each student needs to work on in order to help pass regents, SAT, specialized high school exams and other exams.

Mar. 26 2014 12:25 PM
Peter from NY,NY

Scott was spot on. for the left to make such an obtuse statement that it's about racism and not failed government policies is ludicrous. Statistics don't lie but statisticians do. The numbers tell us time and time again that it's about single mothers and absent fathers that leads to multi generational poverty, crime and drug use. If you want to keep people in the bonds of poverty than keep giving them everything without having to earn it.

Mar. 25 2014 09:19 AM


Paul Ryan's comments were spot on. We have working and non working families that are being poorly educated by public schools and are growing up without positive influences. There is also a multi generational poverty issue that has not been improved by government intervention. It is a fact that poor white/black/hispanic/asian single mothers with children out of wedlock have a much harder time getting out of poverty. For you to make Ryan's statement a simple race issue is pathetic. He was honest in stating that we have a problem in many cities and asked that people that are financially better off do more to help those that are not as well off.

Think about where you wife would be today if you knocked her up an then disappeared.

Your snarky comments are entertaining to some people but really do nothing to help the people that need it most.

Mar. 24 2014 10:29 PM


" And don't even mention Reid's use of "Negro"."

...or Romney's use of man-tan when giving a speech in Miami!

I don't recall labelling anyone "racist" in this thread. There you go making stuff up again.

Mar. 24 2014 06:05 PM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Odd that BRIAN didn't do a segment accusing Joe Biden of racism when he called Barry Obama "clean and articulate" ... implying what ... that other blacks were dirty and unintelligible?

Or when Harry Reid said that Barry had "no discernible Negro dialect, except when he wants one." Yikes ...what, as in except when "he be talkin' to other black folk?" Otherwise, he is "playng to white audiences?" And don't even mention Reid's use of "Negro".

What hypocrisy!
This racism ploy won't work for the LEFT forever ... or you, Brian.

Mar. 24 2014 05:45 PM

Illegal immigrants don't have a work ethic, they have a slave ethic. There is nothing more stomach turning than the wealthy gleefully congratulating their underpaid servants and peons for having a "work ethic".

Mar. 24 2014 12:55 PM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

"Ryan is talking to (mostly) white guys about African-Americans.
Do you really not see that?"

LOL, nah, only resentful, race card-dependent "bigotry experts" like you can easily read people's minds and declare who is "officially" a racist. (e.g. anyone, even if black, who isn't a Democrat)

Mar. 24 2014 12:43 PM
Jack of Corona from Corona, Queens NY

Congressman Paul Ryan needs to view program (DVD or PBS TV) and read (the book) The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross by Henry Louis Gates Jr. to get an excellent history of us Blacks in America. It is not pretty! Our treatment by the American society has done far more to impede and discourage our progress than to help it.

Mar. 24 2014 11:28 AM

@Joe Pearce from Brooklyn and the others who think these are the same words that come from Obama or Cosby...

Comments from Obama, Cosby and others on the underemployment issues in our cities are directed to (mostly) African-Americans about African-Americans. Ryan is talking to (mostly) white guys about African-Americans.

Do you really not see that?

@Jack Onan - Is your name *really* Onan? Oh boy...

Mar. 24 2014 10:32 AM
john from office

Good morning Shelly

Mar. 24 2014 10:28 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

People hire and promote people they like.

If Mr. Ryan had been serious about changing the curve of history on this issue, rather than telling his listeners (presumably white men of means) to "stop driving by and mentor them", he ought to have extolled his listeners to HIRE some.

[though it is unlikely that a brother is going to do the same menial work as a 'fresh off the boat'(?) illegal immigrant at an exploitive wage.]

Mar. 24 2014 10:25 AM
Jake S from Harlem

Summary of "John from office's" comment: "I'm not racist, but here's a racist "observation."

Mar. 24 2014 10:23 AM
Joe Pearce from Brooklyn

Maybe my command of English isn't as good as I've always thought it was, but I cannot understand your 'take' on Paul Ryan's comments as being out of the Ayn Rand Book of Social and Economic Thought. As you later mentioned, what he said is exactly the same thing that Barack Obama has recently said, and that follows what Bill Cosby and other leaders, black and otherwise, have been carping on for years. How, then, do Mr. Ryan's comments constitute paternalism or colonialism or whatever other ism the NPR Left would like to lay upon him. If Mr. Ryan discovered a cure for cancer, you'd probably find fault with it for not being a bipartisan cure
and then fault him further for not having discovered it early enough to save the life of Philip Seymour Hoffman who, of course, died of a drug overdose. But, hey, throw it out there and see what sticks.

Mar. 24 2014 10:21 AM
John A

When you played the Ryan clip, my reaction was "Oh darn, he got that right - Hate to have to vote for him, though"

Mar. 24 2014 10:16 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Not accurate. Obama actually got a lot of flack as well. Any critique of the "urban under-class" - legitimate or not, will get one in trouble.

Ah John, are you saying "off the boat" Dominicans and P. Ricans, don't work as hard as Mexicans? I'm sure it was just an oversight on your part.

Mar. 24 2014 10:15 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

I HATE the '...wind at their back...' summarization of the 2014 Elections that news commentators have fallen into making. This view negates 5 years -- FIVE WHOLE FRIGGIN' YEARS -- of OBSTRUCTION by the GOP. It started with fighting Al Franken's election victory and continued through the budget fights, a government shutdown and more filibusters than I could name. Senate authorizations still win with 51 votes but their own rules require 60 votes to TALK about an issue...This is a recipe for legislative constipation and must end.

I (and I have to believe many, many other voters) are far more down on the GOP than are those that are up. The GOP's only hope is voter apathy (aka voter intensity) and this false summary is rewarding their anti-majoritarian tactics.

Mar. 24 2014 10:15 AM
Jack Onan

Habermann--too much caffeine, hard to listen to.
Slow down

Mar. 24 2014 10:11 AM
Seth Pecksniff

The dodge here is that somehow Ryan's observation is accurate. It maybe be, but the problem is getting deeper -- why is it accurate? There Ryan is lost. Until we can discuss the contemporary effects of very old "systemic" problems, he just sounds like a tone deaf white guy. It's not about an accurate observation. We can all make those. Get off the surface of the problem.

Mar. 24 2014 10:11 AM
john from office

I am no fan of Paul Ryan, but this observation is accurate. There are men, mostly african american, who don't work and do not have a work ethic. Mexicans, fresh off the boat work like dogs at any available job, these other people just don't have a work ethic and it begins at home.

Sorry just look out the window. It is all about being "baby daddys" and nice sneakers.

Mar. 24 2014 10:07 AM
Jay F.

So... If Barack Obama says the same thing it's okay... If Paul Ryan says it, it's racist? What hypocrisy is this?

Mar. 24 2014 10:07 AM

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