To be a politician and admit that you are wrong is a rarity. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), did just that in an interview over the weekend. Ryan apologized for his past use of the terms “makers” and “takers” to describe the American electorate, during a CBS interview with John Dickerson of "Face The Nation" on Sunday. This is not the first time Ryan has acknowledged that he was wrong to use those words. In his 2014 book, Paul Ryan, The Way Forward, Ryan tells the story of meeting a woman at a Wisconsin fair who challenged his language. The encounter reminded him that for a period of time, Ryan and many of his family members were “takers” as well. “At the fair that day, I realized I’d been careless with my language,” he writes. “The phrase gave insult where none was intended.”
By published accounts, when Ryan was 16 and working at a McDonald’s, he came home one day to find his father, who had struggled with alcoholism, dead in bed. His family relied on government assistance for a time after that. The memory of this time, according to Ryan, made him reevaluate his language on the topic of poverty in America.
John Dickerson, the relatively new Face The Nation moderator and son of Nancy Dickerson, the first female correspondent for CBS, is known to ask hard-ball questions. Dickerson challenged Ryan on his past use of the terms “makers” and “takers” saying, “You once referred to those who use benefits as “takers” and you later apologized. It’s interesting because in that case you seem to be saying, be careful about the words you use. In the presidential campaign right now, that would be called political correctness.” Ryan, who has been outspoken about his distaste for political correctness, replied, “Well look, I think I was wrong. When you do something wrong I think you should call to it.” He spoke of the portion of people who are taking advantage of the system saying “that’s a small portion of Americans,” asserting that most Americans who are living in poverty and receiving assistance do not wish to be in that situation. “Most people don’t want to be poor. Most people don’t want to be dependent. And if we speak as if everybody is in this category, that’s wrong. And that’s what I did and I was wrong to do that.” he said. Although he admits that “makers” and “takers” was the wrong choice of words, Ryan stands firm in his stance on political correctness, “I think political correctness has gone way overboard” he said. “Let’s be right. Let’s not have populism that is unattached from our principals.”
Paul Ryan spoke with Larry about ISIS and his plan for "The Way Forward" for America. You can watch the full episode below:
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