It’s no secret that people in the news game maintain an inventory of obituaries of prominent, not dead, not even sick citizens. It’s the responsible choice. Murphy’s Law dictates that if Betty White is even capable of dying, it’s sure to happen when we’re recovering from a two-day bender and are incapable of giving this fine lady the sendoff that she deserves.
So the fact that I wrote House Speaker Paul Ryan’s obituary today should in no way be taken as some sort of wishful thinking. I sincerely hope that the man lives a long, long life and expires in a state of peace, surrounded by the many people who love him.
Seriously. If anything, I’m writing this now because I’m certain that the Speaker is going to outlive me. I mean, just look at him. Even the worst photo of him ever taken indicates a man brimming with health, committed to daily exercise and a regular diet.
Whereas I, as I write this, have just eaten a carrot cake donut and am halfway through a twenty ounce bottle of Diet Dr Pepper.
On top of that, he’s in Congress and thus has access to phenomenally good health insurance.
Me? Not that. Without the Affordable Care Act, the best I can afford is a metal capsule around my neck containing a cyanide capsule. I plan to do some very quick math at the first onset of symptoms and bite down on it if this oncoming stroke/heart attack/bus is going to cost me more than tWendy times what I have in my checking account.
PAUL RYAN, 1970-20??
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives
Paul Davis Ryan, Jr., former Wisconsin congressman and speaker of the House, died today, his family confirmed.
Of all of his achievements in public service, he was proudest of the speed and vigor with which he terminated the Affordable Care Act when presented with his first viable opportunity to do so. The ACA, also known as “Obamacare” after the 44th President who made universal healthcare one of the signature policies of his administration, allowed tens of millions of Americans to purchase health insurance…many for the first time in their lives.
This deeply offended Mr. Ryan for some reason he never clearly explained, either to his constituents or his family.
“Paul was a great guy,” said Kevin Halliday, who was a neighbor of the Ryans during the former Speaker’s time in Congress. “So long as you never brought up the subject of Americans who had been previously been barred from the health insurance market purchasing coverage for themselves and their children. Few of us ever made that mistake twice. I mean…just, yikes.”
A crossing guard at Mr. Ryan’s children’s former middle school agreed.
“I remember one time when he was picking up his youngest. He saw a kid wearing some kind of leg brace, big heavy sucker,” recalls Gayle Henry. “He shot out of his Escalade — didn’t even turn off the engine or set the brake…I had to run alongside it to keep it from rolling — and tried to rip the brace off of her. Screaming ‘Where the heck did you get that leg brace? Your family can’t afford that! You stole it from a health system you’re not entitled to, didn’t you?!’ Except he didn’t say ‘heck’, if you get my meaning.”
Ms. Henry recalls that it took three other parents to pull Mr. Ryan off of the seventh-grader. He only calmed down when her mother arrived and assured him that the family was paying out-of-pocket to treat their child’s congenital skeletal defects, and had been forced to sell their home and pull their eldest child out of college as a consequence.
Family members recall a generous, kind, happy-go-lucky man who was quick with a smile or a joke.
“Repealing the Affordable Care Act really calmed Uncle Paul down,” said a relative who wished not to be identified. “He used to be an impatient, Type-A kind of guy, with a hairtrigger temper. But the knowledge that he was personally responsible for tens of millions of men, women, and children dying or living the rest of their lives struggling against crippling debt gave him a center of peace and joy. His only regret was that he would never know the exact number. But he never let that get him down.”
Visitors to his congressional office often asked about the two framed photos he kept on his desk. One was of a teenage girl; the other was of a man in his Fifties.
He explained their significance in a 2022 “Parade” magazine interview.
“I’ve no idea who they are,” he said. “I just tore the photos out of some book. But I like to think that the little girl had a heart defect that wasn’t detected until the day before the picture was taken, and then the family’s insurance company declared it a pre-existing condition and cancelled their coverage. The guy is someone who was laid off from a machine shop after twenty years. He couldn’t find a new job that included health insurance. Nobody was willing to sell Gus a policy, either, given his Type 1 diabetes and family history of lung cancer. I’ve always called him ‘Gus’.
“I do it for them and everybody like them,” the former Speaker said. “That’s what it’s all about. If the only things I’m remembered for is the speed with which I took health insurance away from tens of millions of people instead of fixing the broken program or allowing it to continue until we had a better system in place, and that I’ve indirectly killed more of my own people than Stalin and Mao combined, I know I’ll die happy.”
Mr. Ryan also enjoyed playing pickup basketball games with his staff.
The former Speaker was XX years old.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced. In lieu of paper bags full of wet excrement, the family has requested that donations be made to community charities that provide healthcare to families in need.