A day after appearing on a conservative radio show and making racially-tinged comments blaming poverty on ‘inner city’ men, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) released a statement on Thursday ‘apologizing’ for his choice of words. Basically, this was the standard non-apology where Ryan stated he was ‘inarticulate’ in getting his initial point across. Below is the full statement:
After reading the transcript of yesterday morning’s interview, it is clear that I was inarticulate about the point I was trying to make. I was not implicating the culture of one community—but of society as a whole. We have allowed our society to isolate or quarantine the poor rather than integrate people into our communities. The predictable result has been multi-generational poverty and little opportunity. I also believe the government’s response has inadvertently created a poverty trap that builds barriers to work. A stable, good-paying job is the best bridge out of poverty.
The broader point I was trying to make is that we cannot settle for this status quo and that government and families have to do more and rethink our approach to fighting poverty. I have witnessed amazing people fighting against great odds with impressive success in poor communities. We can learn so much from them, and that is where this conversation should begin.
The only reason Ryan’s now trying to apologize for this radio interview is because it blew up in his face. He thought he was on safe ground by saying this on conservative talk radio. He figured that only die-hard racists and old, white conservatives would be listening to Bill Bennett’s show and that he’d be able to get away with blowing his dog whistle with no worries. Unfortunately for Ryan, his comments went viral and everybody knew exactly what he he meant. Basically, it was clear that he said that poverty in this country is due to black men being lazy.
This is twice this month that Ryan has looked absolutely foolish when trying to discuss the War on Poverty and his supposed ‘solutions.’ After a speech at CPAC earlier this month, Ryan was forced to acknowledge that a story he used to justify the elimination of free school lunch programs was a fabrication. With that blowing up in his face, we now see him trying to atone for being outed as a racist. It has not been a good March for Ryan.
Ryan can say all he wants about being ‘inarticulate’ or that he had a tough time trying to make the ‘broader point.’ However, when you bring Charles Murray into the conversation, you are tipping your hand that your ‘broader point’ is that you believe that blacks are less intelligent than whites and genetically less likely to be successful. Also, in his ‘apology’ statement, he mentioned that government has to do more to combat poverty. Yet in the radio interview, he said that we should merely rely on more affluent suburbanites and religious organizations to help fight poverty, as they can take time to ‘mentor’ those in the inner city.
Ryan is hoping to secure the 2016 GOP nomination for President. Making ‘inarticulate’ statements like he did on Wednesday isn’t going to help him. While tossing around racist comments might actually appeal to the hard-right base of the Republican Party, I am pretty sure it will be a non-starter with the vast majority of voters in this country. It will be very, very difficult for Ryan to move past this. It’s possible that it might disappear after 48 hours and not come up again. However, it seems more likely that this is going to stick to him like glue.