So I guess if you have ideas about solving the federal debt that involve cuts to entitlement programs, you’ve given up your right to drink good wine.
This “controversy” is about as dumb as when Republicans complain about the Obamas going on vacation while America is in a recession! Ryan wasn’t gloating about drinking good wine. He didn’t put out a press release celebrating his taste in expensive wine. No, a drunk Rutgers professor invaded his privacy, eavesdropped on his conversation, snooped to see what kind of wine he was drinking, looked up the cost of the wine on the menu, then went to the media. This is Breitbart-esque nonsense from Talking Points Memo.
Some choice bits:
The pomp and circumstance surrounding the waiter’s presentation, uncorking and decanting of the pricey Pinot Noir caught the attention of another diner who had already recognized Ryan sitting with two other men nearby.
There’s a ritual you go through with a waiter when you order a bottle of wine from restaurant. But pomp and circumstance? Really? Did they play rich people music when they brought out the wine? Did Ryan dance the secret millionaire’s jig before tasting his sample? Feinberg makes it seem as if Ryan was rubbing it in the noses of other diners that he was about to sip a fine wine that none of them could afford. Except that the drunken professor who confronted Ryan actually had to look up the price of the wine before she could be angry.
She was outraged that Ryan was consuming hundreds of dollars in wine while Congress was in the midst of intense debates over whether to cut seniors’ safety net, and she didn’t know whether Ryan or his companions was going to pay for the wine and whether the two men were lobbyists.
Again, what is the point, here? That politicians who want to cut or scale back public programs aren’t allowed to spend their own money on good wine? She’d almost have a point if this was a violation of House lobbying rules. Except that she had no idea if the men Ryan was eating with were lobbyists. She just saw a congressman she loathes, started snooping, rudely took photos of his table*, then drunkenly confronted him, all on a hunch that his dinner companions might have been lobbyists. Ryan says they were economists.
“It was my birthday, and I’d had half a bottle of great wine with dinner,” she wrote in an e-mail to TPM. “I wasn’t drunk, but I was certainly emboldened to speak my mind.”
Wait a second, here. How could Feinberg—who as a business professor at Rutgers is presumably a well-paid public employee—in good conscience enjoy a half bottle of “great wine” at a fancy D.C. bistro when people are suffering? When unemployment hovers near 10 percent? When the world economy is in a tailspin? When President Obama is entertaining cuts to Social Security and Medicare? Oh, that’s right. She has the correct opinions on all of theses issues. So she’s allowed to enjoy good wine with a clean conscience.
Feinberg said all three men were “droning on loudly during the evening that liberals think that if you’re a millionaire, you have done something wrong.”
I doubt this happened. Agree or disagree with his politics, everything I’ve read about Ryan indicates he has a mild-mannered personal demeanor. This sounds much more like a liberal university professor’s nightmarish vision of what an evil, budget-cutting, Rand-loving Republican simply must be like. Did Ryan’s monocle also pop out and splash down into his glass of expensive wine? Did he check his top hat with the maitre d’, or did he set it on the table next to his plate? Did he brush off with the back of his hand orphan children who begged him merely for scraps of house bread that otherwise would have been thrown in the trash?
I love a good politician-bashing story as much as anyone. But this reeks of mindless partisan sniping.
(*Ryan was in a public space (thought at a private restaurant). So long as the restaurant allows photography, I don’t think it should be illegal to snap his photo. That doesn’t mean it isn’t rude, just as it would be rude to snap photos of a celebrity trying to enjoy a meal.)