The effort to make Paul Ryan a non-threatening, middle-of-the-road politician is apparently underway. Exhibit A is this morning’s Politico offering, “5 keys to understanding Paul Ryan.”

After “years of observing Ryan in action,” Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan have learned that he’s ambitious (“a man in a hurry”), he’s a politician (“virtually all of Ryan’s professional experience is in Washington”), he’s “misunderstood,” he’s “an island” and he tends to vote Republican.

How illuminating! At least four of the five (Ryan’s loner tendencies the exception) describe every last Republican in Washington, and even a few Blue Dog Democrats.

Now, I have not spent as much time observing Paul Ryan in his native habitat, but I’m quite sure another thing that makes him tick, as I alluded to earlier, is a longtime opposition to gay rights. This isn’t something Ryan puts at the top of his resume, of course — it would cut against his image as an intellectual and a wonk — but the evidence is stark.

Via the National Organization for Marriage, here’s a taste of how Paul Ryan feels about gays:

“Voted for a resolution proposing a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union between one man and one woman.”

Voted against repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in 2011.

Voted YES on Constitutionally defining marriage as one-man-one-woman.

Voted YES on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Supported the marriage amendment in Wisconsin in 2006.

In a crucial way these positions are of a piece with Ryan’s desire to, as Matthew Yglesias put it so well, “ax programs aimed at benefiting poor people.” They reveal a guy who does not hesitate — and is in fact eager — to put a boot on the neck of a large swath of Americans. Isn’t this a “key” to understanding the man?

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