The Paul Ryan Wine Whine Dies With A Whimper


This weekend saw the eruption of one of the dumbest news stories of all time, in which a liberal academic named Susan Feinberg freaked out because she saw Rep. Paul Ryan drinking a glass of expensive wine at a fancy restaurant.  She actually confronted Ryan about this, in a scene that ended with her departing the restaurant after management intervened.

Somehow this became a big story at the far-left Talking Points Memo website, complete with secret photos Feinberg snapped of Ryan and his dinner companions sipping the expensive beverage.  Not only was the incident supposed to indict Ryan for hypocrisy, because he supports reform of Medicare and Medicaid, but Feinberg wanted him investigated for possible ethics violations.  Other liberal media outlets, including New York magazine and The Atlantic, picked up the story and ran with it.

By Monday, the Ryan Wine Whine had collapsed and died of absurdity, but Byron York at the Washington Examiner thought it was worth a quick autopsy:

Ryan told TPM that his two dinner-mates had ordered the wine, and that he, Ryan, didn’t know what it cost and drank only one glass.  Ryan’s explanation was supported by TPM’s account, presumably based on Feinberg’s recollection, which said that when Feinberg confronted Ryan about the cost of his wine, “Ryan said only: ‘Is that how much it was?'”

Nevertheless, Feinberg and TPM hinted that Ryan might have violated House ethics rules by accepting an expensive meal from lobbyists.  But it turned out that the two men with whom Ryan was dining were, as he said, economists and not lobbyists.  Feinberg and TPM also suggested that Ryan might have violated House rules against accepting gifts in general.  But it turned out that Ryan had paid for his meal and wine — Ryan even showed TPM his copy of the receipt, which TPM then posted on the web.

York followed up by asking Feinberg about the cost of the wine at her table, which is clearly visible in the photos she snapped of Ryan and his friends.  It appears to be an $80 bottle of Thierry et Pascale Matrot 2005 Meursault.  York notes that’s not exactly a “minimum wage” beverage.  Our courageous defender of the poor and scourge of hypocrisy answered with a terse “I have no comment on this.”

You know what else minimum-wage families can’t afford?  Tuition at Rutgers, where Susan Feinberg is an associate professor of management and global business.

Since Feinberg wanted to use her chance encounter with Ryan and his dinner companions to ask probing questions about hypocrisy and ethics, I’m sure she won’t mind if I ask a few probing questions about her. 

How much is Rutgers paying to employ an “associate professor of management and global business” who doesn’t understand that free people are allowed to spend their own money on anything they want? 

Also, she apparently doesn’t understand the difference between government policy discussions and individual behavior.  Medicare becomes no less insolvent, whether discussed over Diet Coke or fine wine.  Envy and resentment are absolutely non-productive – in fact, they are anti-productive.  Anger at Paul Ryan and his dinner companions over their choice of beverage does not create jobs, or produce more health-care resources.

What sort of dining accommodations does Feinberg imagine top-ranking socialists enjoy?  Ryan wants to reduce the size of government and return money to the people.  Isn’t it far more hypocritical when big-talking leftists, who not only refuse to surrender a penny of our money but demand even more, enjoy opulent lifestyles – much of it funded directly by taxpayer dollars?  For that matter, why was our noble Tribune Of The People dining at the very same expensive restaurant? 

If it’s wrong for people to purchase $350 bottles of wine, then how can it be morally acceptable to produce them?  Shouldn’t those wineries be shut down immediately?

This story was a high-profile attempt by an academic to short-circuit the logical discussion of something that affects her alleged area of expertise.  Does Feinberg teach that “global business” issues should be settled by snapping surreptitious photos under the dinner table, and howling in blind rage about other peoples’ menu choices? 

How can someone like that be qualified to teach at a university that charges up to $35,000 per year in tuition?  At least Paul Ryan enjoyed superb value from the bottle of wine he and his companions purchased.  Parents who send their kids to Rutgers might not be so lucky.