Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 27 2012 @ 3:15pm

Two thoughts about Ryan and Romney that have been buzzing around in my brain lately. The first is Ryan's response to the Akin matter, specifically his own name being on legislation built around the distinction between rape and "forcible rape". It was a legitimate question – "Should abortions be available to women who have been raped?" – and it gave us a revealing answer:

Ryan: "I’m proud of my pro-life record. And I stand by my pro-life record in Congress. It’s something I’m proud of. But Mitt Romney is the top of the ticket and Mitt Romney will be president and he will set the policy of the Romney administration."

KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano: "You sponsored legislation that has the language 'forcible rape,'" Delano noted. "What is forcible rape as opposed…"

Ryan: "Rape is rape. Rape is rape, period. End of story."

Delano: "So that forcible rape language meant nothing to you at the time?"

Ryan: "Rape is rape and there’s no splitting hairs over rape."

Notice how he didn't answer the question – on a matter he regards as one of conscience. Ryan is proud of a pro-life record that split hairs on rape and yet in the same answer says we shouldn't split hairs on rape. When challenged, he simply reiterates his new line. I'm inclined to believe in Ryan's sincerity on ending all abortion, but if he cannot back up his own previous positions or even explain why he has changed them, he is not a breath of fresh air; he is a halitosis-ridden belch. When it comes to risking political capital over a matter of moral principle, Ryan morphed immediately into Romney, an opportunist. Not a good sign – but not unexpected in an alleged deficit hawk who torpedoed the only, serious bipartisan chance for real reform in Bowles-Simpson.

Then Romney. I have no problem with his being rich – hugely rich in ways that ultimately cannot even be spent in one lifetime. Good for him. But if I earned $25 million a year for doing nothing, I don't think I'd be still ruthlessly, fanatically ensuring that no unnecessary taxes were paid on any single cent of it. It takes an army of accountants to do what Romney did: maximize to the most comprehensive degree a fortune of over $250 million to make sure it doesn't in any way go to the public purse.

Getting rich is one thing – and is nothing to be ashamed of, if achieved by honest hard work. But how you treat that money also matters. Romney has been very generous toward his church – and deserves huge credit for it. But the tax minimization? For someone who has more money than God? It's not a virtue in my book. It's greed.