October 16, 2012

Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan stopped by a soup kitchen in Ohio over the weekend and got a nice photo-op of him and his family helping clean dishes. However, critics claim that is all that happened--a photo-op. The Ryans stopped by during a campaign swing without proper permission from the leadership at the soup kitchen, who insist they would not have approved a visit by any candidate due to the nonpartisan nature of the organization. The Ryans arrived after the meal was over, the dining room emptied, and the kitchen cleaned. During the brief fifteen minute visit, they visited a few volunteers and then marched into the kitchen, donned aprons, and washed a couple of pans and pots that looked completely clean. A photo and a video can be seen here. It is clear from the video that the kitchen has already been cleaned, and the water running off the pans and pots is as clean as when it came out of the kitchen sprayer. Later reports suggest the couple of pans and pots did need cleaning and were left for Ryan. However, they must have been already washed once by someone to be that clean, probably so stuff would not dry on the pans and pots (and he did not actually wash them right so hopefully they were already washed!). Either way, he did not actually help as volunteers had to wait around much longer than normal just so he could come and look like he was helping. This seems to be a perfect metaphor for Ryan's budget. He claims he based it on his Catholic faith but many Catholic bishops, nuns, and scholars insist it is immoral because it hurts the poor. Ryan has been put forth as the example of a bold visionary who can balance the budget and yet his budget does not balance and instead helps the rich by cutting programs that feed and help the poor. The image does not match the substance. Jesus had something to say about this kind of behavior:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
At least Ryan is more inventive than the Pharisees--he cleaned the inside of a clean pan and pot!