According to a Rolling Stone interview released yesterday, President Obama does not have much respect for Libertarian & free market icon Ayn Rand. The interview, conducted by professor and historian Douglas Brinkley, featured some fair tough questioning.
One rather unique question covered the writings of Ayn Rand, whom GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has expressed affinity for. Obama attacks Ryan over this, noting someone should grow out of any Ayn Rand phase once they are beyond a "misunderstood" teenager stage.
Q: Have you ever read Ayn Rand?
Q: What do you think Paul Ryan's obsession with her work would mean if he were vice president?
Obama: Well, you'd have to ask Paul Ryan what that means to him. Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we'd pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we're only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we're considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity – that that's a pretty narrow vision. It's not one that, I think, describes what's best in America. Unfortunately, it does seem as if sometimes that vision of a "you're on your own" society has consumed a big chunk of the Republican Party.
But Don Watkins, a fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute has another take on the author. In a sharp criticism of the President's statement, Watkins defends a Rand philosophy and questions if the President ever read the author.
Watkins: The President is pulling the same old trick that collectivists have been pulling for the last hundred fifty years. Rather than openly defend the proposition that you have a duty to serve society, he misrepresents and smears individualism. Contra Obama, what Ayn Rand appeals to is youthful idealism.