I Was Wrong: Paul Ryan Has Been 'Brave'—About Cuba

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I mentioned yesterday the D.C. media's gullibility toward claims about the "brave" and "serious" nature of Paul Ryan's budgetary plans. For an incredible recent illustration, see this from Slate.

But via Vinod Sreeharsha, in turn quoting Kenneth Roth, here is an exception illustrating actual legislative bravery: Over the past decade, Ryan has voted repeatedly in the House to overturn the most plainly idiotic* part of current U.S. foreign policy, the maintenance of an embargo on Cuba.

Cites to Ryan's anti-embargo votes are here, in a Scribd document (scroll down to the part headed "Cuba"). Yes, I realize that this is a less risky stance for someone from Wisconsin than for a politician based closer to the state of Florida. Still, it would presumably have been easier to vote the other way -- since so many non-Florida legislators, despite knowing that the policy is nuts, continue to do so. Congratulations to Rep. Ryan -- seriously. I am looking forward to hearing more about this on the campaign trail.
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 *Brief explanation for branding this as idiocy: For nearly four decades, starting with a policy shift by Richard Nixon, we've concluded that it makes sense to "engage" the Communist government of a country with four times as many people as we have, on the other side of the world. Simultaneously we maintain that engagement is unacceptable and would have no positive effect on a country with one-thirtieth our population and perhaps one percent our GDP, which is full of people with family and cultural ties to the United States and is less than 100 miles off our shores. This makes sense to some members of the expat community in Florida and the legislators who depend on their support, but it shouldn't to anyone else.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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