Ralph Benko

It may have been one of the strangest moments in the history of modern presidential politics.

Presidential aspirant Paul Ryan gave the world a false “Sister Souljah Moment” in publicly dissing a key portion of the legacy of Jack Kemp at the Kemp Foundation Leadership Award Dinner (which had honored Ryan himself with its leadership award last year). It was even odder that Ryan chose to mock — outside his prepared remarks — the gold standard, a core piece of Kemp’s conservative agenda, just as it finally is coming (according to, among many others, the FT ), into “mainstream US politics.”

At the same event presidential aspirant Marco Rubio, the 2012 recipient of the leadership award, warmly embraced the fundamental Kemp, and Reagan, plank of good monetary policy. Rubio, putting his money where his mouth is (so to speak), had just joined with the Senate’s #2 Republican John Cornyn in co-sponsoring the Senate version of Rep. Kevin Brady’s Sound Dollar Act. While occasionally paying lip service to sound money Ryan’s name does not appear among this important legislation’s 48 House co-sponsors.

Ryan waxed deeply offensive when, 20 minutes in, he stated “of course every problem doesn’t disappear through the workings of the free market alone,” extemporaneously adding, “I would love to say if we just went on the gold standard it would all be settled heh heh — right Judy? Heh heh.” The “Judy” of Ryan’s comment could have been none other than Dr. Judith Shelton, board member of the National Endowment for Democracy, a public intellectual, co-editor of the recently released Atlas Foundation Roads to Sound Money, and internationally respected monetary reform advocate.

Ralph Benko

Ralph Benko, author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to use the Web to transform the world. He serves as an advisor to and editor of the Lehrman Institute's thegoldstandardnow.org and senior advisor to the American Principles Project.