Paul Ryan has the Speaker’s gavel, but does he still have conservatives’ hearts?
Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) was officially sworn in as Speaker of the House on Thursday, and the sign over the doorway to the Speaker’s Office wasn’t the only change.
It’s real. pic.twitter.com/faDo8ZXpiS
— Brendan Buck (@BrendanBuck) October 30, 2015
The “Hey Girl, It’s Paul Ryan” Tumblr, first launched in April 2012 with a seemingly endless supply of memes highlighting the Congressman’s boyish good looks and penchant for fiscal policy, started posting new updates again. The photo blog was inspired by the many internet memes dedicated to actor Ryan Gosling and launched before former Gov. Mitt Romney tapped Ryan as his running mate.
Emily Zanotti, who founded the site along with Lyndsey Fifield and Lindsey Dodge, told us that the idea came to them after a New York Times profile of the then-House Budget Committee Chairman “made him out to be super manly, so we took advantage of that.” Naturally, getting the VP nod in August 2012 boosted the site’s traffic and inspired a new flurry of posts, but after Obama was re-elected, the site went dormant.
Now, with Ryan taking the Speaker’s Gavel, Hey Girl, It’s Paul Ryan is back, enjoying its namesake’s newly prominent position.
It’s a different atmosphere for Ryan in 2015 than it was in 2012, however. Viewed as a hero by Republicans when he was picked as the vice presidential nominee, many of the same conservatives who gushingly praised him in 2012 attacked him as too moderate on issues like immigration when he became a serious candidate for Speaker.
These attacks are part of what sparked the site’s resurgence. “I think we have an opportunity to promote the work he’s doing and remind people what a conservative superhero he is,” said site founder Fifield. “We’ve been shocked and confused by the loud voices saying Speaker Ryan is some kind of secret liberal or establishment hack. It’s absolute nonsense.”
Legal Insurrection’s Amy Miller discussed this divide between the new Speaker and conservative activists in her coverage of Ryan’s swearing-in:
I think most commentators are right when they say that Ryan is the right man for the job, right now. I have no doubt, though, that Ryan’s first challenge will be to rebuild the trust that has been lost both between members of his caucus, and between the American people and the institution in which Washington continually begs us to place our faith.
That task, I fear, will be much more difficult than reconciling a budget.
Fifield had similar thoughts. “We [as Republicans] have such an incredible opportunity now to showcase to the American people that we are the party of youth and empowerment and ideas,” she said. “I hope we don’t squander it on infighting.”
According to Zanotti, Ryan has yet to publicly comment on Hey Girl, It’s Paul Ryan. That hasn’t dampened their enthusiasm, but she quipped that they would love to have his autograph.
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