"Paul Ryan Can't Lose," a 5,000-word cover story by Mark Leibovich, the New York Times magazine's chief national correspondent, conformed to the writer's history of cynical, unsympathetic profiles of Republican candidates.
According to Leibovich, Newt Gingrich is "among the more divisive political figures of recent decade," always threatening to become "Nasty Newt," yet former vice president Al Gore is a "compelling" "pop culture icon." Offered the fat target of Vice President Joe Biden, Leibovich instead buttered him up. Yet former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney didn't escape: "Critics deride him as a Prince of Darkness whose occasional odd episodes - swearing at a United States senator, shooting a friend in a hunting accident and then barely acknowledging it publicly - suggest a striking indifference to how he is perceived."
Leibovich even used his Ryan profile to take an arbitrary and snotty swipe at the "let’s say, knowledge-averse bent" of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.