Is the progressive perspective on Ayn Rand legitimate?

In an episode of The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann, the host interviews Michael Lind. Together, they characterize Ayn Rand as engaged in fiction and out of touch with reality.

At one point, Michael Lind suggests that the traditional approach of writing non-fiction and Op Ed peices are not the most effective way to propagandize.

A good novel, or even a bad novel… Actually probably, the successive effective propaganda novels–like Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Ayn Rand’s works–the worse they are as literature, the less subtle they are and the more melodramatic, and the dumber and simpler and straightforward their message, the more successful they may be in gaining converts. So I think the lesson is, you want to get your message out there, by all means write Op Eds and policy papers, but you might think about some fiction.

I appreciated one responder (nonearlylove) on YouTube who said this:

Ayn Rand represents the best context ever derived from ‘The Axiomatic Primacy of Existence’.. ‘The Primacy of Consciousness‘ (Consciousness as Creative) represents the opposite axiomatic base.. All disagreement begins and follows from these starting gates.. A debate between Ayn Rand and Paramahansa Yogananda would highlight these differences.. Both were geniuses in their own contexts.. And neither would ever willingly steal from you.. Or lie about everything.! Or bury their heads in the sand..

Hartmann and Lind went on to talk about the engine of propaganda through Ayn Rand and the Koch brothers. They talked about CATO Institute as an instrument of the right in the form of libertarianism. Overall, they were both calm, but their disdain for Ayn Rand was not lost through their demeanor. What bothered me most is the one-sided-ness of it all. Granted Hartmann uses all of the time available to him to make the points he wants to make. I get that, and I can’t fault him because it’s his show. But, there are aspects of Ayn Rand’s political and economic philosophy that Hartmann would agree with. Instead of acknowledging any commonly held values, he immediately dismisses her and, in so doing, alienates an influential chunk of the GOP. With his slamming of Christian conservatives, he alienates another influential chunk.

I don’t want to be guilty of the same ill-balanced treatment of disparate perspectives, so I will point out that Thom Hartmann introduces some questions worthy of further conversation. My interview on The Big Picture included his question about the general welfare, but alas, we didn’t develop the conversation.

How would you answer Thom Hartmann and his guest, Michael Lind? What questions would challenge them the most? What questions do you think they should ask, but aren’t?