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Poor, poor pitiful Paul

Poor, poor pitiful Paul

by digby

Mark Liebovich profiles Paul Ryan as he faces his last months as Speaker of the House:

Ryan is clearly sick of the “What about Trump?” questions and of having the dilemma imposed upon him. He has been held up as a figure of disdain across the spectrum: Trump-lovers have remained suspicious of him as a tool of the establishment and are quick to raise Ryan’s sacrileges against their hero during the campaign; Democrats, “never Trump” conservatives and — quietly — some elected Republicans wish Ryan would provide a stronger counterbalance to a battering-ram president. Ryan, the rap goes, has deserted his post as a potential conscience of the party and voice for decency, and he has allowed Trump’s most fervent acolytes in the House — Devin Nunes, for instance — to run wild in his defense. The speaker knows better and yet goes along anyway. “Ryan traded his political soul,” the conservative columnist George F. Will has written, “for ... a tax cut.”

Ryan’s defiance to Trump, such as it is, can carry an almost pro forma quality. He will avoid or claim ignorance if possible (“I didn’t see the tweet”), chastise the president if he must (rarely by name), wait for the latest outrage to pass, rinse and repeat. “Frankly, I haven’t paid that close attention to it,” said Ryan at a June news conference in which he was asked about the job status of Scott Pruitt, the scandal-drenched E.P.A. administrator who was finally run out of office in July and whose mounting offenses over several months would have been impossible for even the most casual news consumer to miss.

“I can understand all of the rationalities,” says Charlie Sykes, a longtime conservative radio host in Wisconsin who spent years trying to persuade Ryan to run for president before turning sharply against him over Trump. “In a Faustian bargain, you get a lot of things. You get the wealth, you get the beautiful women and you get all this good stuff.” In Ryan’s case, this would include tax and regulatory overhauls. “It just turns out the price is higher than you thought.”

Ryan hears such assessments all the time. “I’m very comfortable with the decisions I’ve made,” he told me. “I would make them again, do it again the same way.” He is quick to present his counterfactual. What if he were to pick a fight with Trump every time he said something that offended? “I think some people would like me to start a civil war in our party and achieve nothing.” Why should Ryan, despite his own misgivings, make himself the vehicle for anti-Trump wish-fulfillment?

The counter-counterfactual is this: Are Republican leaders so unwilling to condemn Trump because their voters support him so vigorously, or do these voters support Trump so vigorously because so few Republican leaders have dared condemn his actions? Chicken, meet egg.

“I would say the unwillingness of Ryan and others to offer an alternative vision to Trump would be the reason” that Trump’s approval number is so high, Sykes told me. “When your best and brightest basically run up the white flag, it’s going to have an effect.”


It's called "leadership" but that's been outsourced to Trump, Sean Hannity and Alex Jones.

Ryan is complicit at best an accomplice at worst. He prepared the ground and then enabled Trumpism. When faced with what he had wrought, he was a coward. Now he's running away so that he can repair his tattered reputation.

No.