Alec MacGillis' 4,123-word profile in the New Republic of Paul Ryan's enormously successful fakery as a "budget wonk" contains such an accurate, 17-word summation, it's about all you need to know:
Once you earn a reputation as a Serious Man in Washington, it’s almost impossible to lose it.
I'm not even sure the qualifier--"almost"--is well advised. Yesterday, for example, I sat in near disbelief and absolute disgust watching the repeatedly, profoundly wrong wrong wrong Paul Wolfowitz expound on foreign policy on CNN's "GPS." My mailman has a better grasp of world affairs than this insufficiently disgraced idiot, and yet there he was--Wolfowitz, not my mailman--popping off on national TV.
Why? Because once you earn a reputation as a Serious Man in Washington, it’s utterly impossible to lose it.