Paul Ryan Is A Coward
Less than a month before the 2016 election, and shortly after the release of the now-infamous Access Hollywood tapes, Paul Ryan told others in the party he would no longer defend Donald Trump. Instead, he was going to focus on making sure Hillary Clinton, who seemed destined to take the White House, didn’t have a Democratic congress at her disposal.
Fast forward past WikiLeaks, Anthony Wiener, and the nightmare that was November 8th, 2016 to today and Ryan is singing a very different tune.
Ryan has most recently defended Trump concerning the firing of FBI Director James Comey as well as the memo Comey allegedly wrote after Trump asked him to end the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
However, this is far from the first time Ryan has rushed to play Trump’s white knight these past six months.
On November 27th, Trump introduced us to this bit of lunacy:
In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally
No one is better at being wrong in fewer characters than Trump. Not only did he not win the Electoral College in a “landslide” but he didn’t win the popular vote and there is zero evidence that “millions of people” voted illegally.
But of course facts aren’t going to stand in the way of Donald Trump and Ryan isn’t going to hold him to some impossible standard like telling the truth.
“It doesn’t matter to me. He won the election,” Ryan said when pressed on Trump’s tweets. “The way I see the tweets you’re talking about, he’s basically giving voice to a lot of people who have felt that they were voiceless. He’s communicating with people in this country who’ve felt like they have not been listened to. He’s going to be an unconventional president.”
“Who cares what he tweeted, you know, on some Thursday night, if we fix this country’s big problems?” he added. “That’s just the way I look at this.”
Translation: I, Paul Ryan, do not care to check the Executive on facts if it means tax cuts for the wealthy.
After Trump’s first Muslim Ban was dropped with almost no warning, the country was thrown into a fit of chaos. No one was quite sure who was allowed and who wasn’t, which led to even Green Card residents being refused entry into the country.
Set aside for one second the blatant attack on the Constitution by attempting to exclude one religion and all the moral issues one should have with such policy — Trump’s team couldn’t even get the execution of the ban right.
What is happening is something we support… we need to make sure that the vetting standards are up to snuff," Paul Ryan says of travel ban https://t.co/iX6YkOLkLl
In typical Ryan fashion, he also set aside the unconstitutional nature of the ban, as well as its moral failings, and instead decided the real issue was simply the poor “rollout” of it.
“I think it’s regrettable that there was some confusion on the rollout with this,” Ryan said, per The Hill. Then, moments later, he said it again: “Regrettably, the rollout was confusing.”
Translation: I love that we’re keeping Muslims out, but I’d really like to be more efficient about it.
After a judge blocked Trump’s aforementioned Muslim Ban, Trump lashed out via — where else? — Twitter:
The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!
The tweet was seen by many as an attack on the judiciary, but gosh darn it all, Paul Ryan just didn’t see it that way.
“I think what’s most important are the actions,” Ryan said. “This administration is honoring the ruling, and this administration is going through the proper procedures to deal with the ruling to try and get the ruling overturned. They’re going through the appeals process, they’re respecting the separation of powers in the process. Look, I know he’s an unconventional President. He gets frustrated with judges, we get frustrated with judges. But he’s respecting the process, and that’s what counts at the end of the day.”
Translation: What’s everyone so mad about? At least he didn’t declare himself a dictator, right?
Firing Flynn Weeks Too Late
Back in early February — what feels like a lifetime ago — Trump was forced to fire his National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn. News broke that Flynn had several inappropriate conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, regarded in American intelligence circles as a top Russian spy, and had apparently “misled” Vice President Mike Pence, who went on record defending Flynn against allegations of wrong-doing.
Even at the time there was talk that Trump knew all about Flynn’s improprieties thanks to Sally Yates’s warning, but he kept him on as his NSA for over two weeks anyway. We now know President Obama warned Trump shortly after the election about hiring Flynn and it appears as though Pence also knew Flynn was under federal investigation, even if he perhaps was unaware of the contacts with Kislyak.
At the time, it was a huge scandal for Trump as he was forced to make Flynn the shortest-serving NSA in history and furthered calls for a new, broad-ranging investigation into Trump’s dealings with Russia.
However, off in the distance, Ryan put down his 25-pound weights, cranked up the Rage Against the Machine on his iPod and rode in to defend Trump once more.
“National security is perhaps the most important function or responsibility a president has. And I think the president made the right decision to ask for his resignation,” Ryan said at a news conference. “You cannot have the national security adviser misleading the vice president and others.”
It’s a pretty vanilla statement until he was asked about reports that Trump knew Flynn was dirty from the very beginning, to which he replied “I’m not going to prejudge any of the circumstances surrounding this.”
Translation: Please stop asking me to do my job. Please.
James Comey Firing/Memo
After Comey’s abrupt and shocking firing, Ryan stuck mostly to the same lines the rest of the party did. He’s the president, he has the right to fire him, and other responses that didn’t actually address the issue.
Ryan also once again pushed back against the idea of a special prosecutor, claiming congress could sufficiently investigate the connections between Trump and Russia, all the while denying they really existed.
A week later, when news dropped that Comey had kept detailed notes during his meetings with Trump, and specifically one meeting wherein Trump asked Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn, Ryan promptly showed off his flexibility by sticking his entire foot in his mouth.
“We can’t deal with speculation and innuendo, and there’s clearly a lot of politics being played. Our job is to get the facts and be sober about doing that,” he said.
Yes, because if there’s one thing Republicans are known for over the past decade or so, it’s their slow and deliberate method of fact-gathering regardless of party affiliation.
Ryan also claimed that it was “obvious” people were out to hurt Trump, implying once again the memo and leaks were purely political. Ryan has stuck to this theme since the election and doesn’t appear to be backing off.
With all the insanity surrounding Trump and his administration, it’s unlikely the next few weeks will be any calmer. However, Trump just might be on his own for a while as Ryan deals with his own PR nightmare.
The Washington Post obtained a transcript of a conversation between Ryan and other GOP leaders, in which they acknowledge Russia was behind the hacking of the DNC and even “joke” that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin pays Trump and congressman Dana Rohrabacher.
All parties initially denied the conversation ever happened. Then they were informed there was a tape. Now they claim it was all a big joke. Something tells me Ryan is going to be wrapped up in defending that for a while.
The larger point here is the lengths Ryan goes to defend Trump, even knowing he was aided by the Russians and acknowledging just over six months ago the man was indefensible. Despite multiple paths for impeachment, Ryan continues to defend the indefensible rather than doing his job of providing a check and balance to the Executive.
The question is: to what end?
Seemingly, the answer is tax cuts. For whatever reason, Ryan is on a crusade to throw people off their health insurance, destroy Medicare/Medicaid, and give the richest people in the country the largest tax cuts possible.
Perhaps this comes from a true belief that this is the way a country should be governed, perhaps it’s something more nefarious like simply lining his own pockets with dark money from very happy millionaires, or perhaps it’s a mix of both.
Ryan has a chance to do the right thing for the country and really, in the long run, the right thing for the GOP as a party. Instead, he has sacrificed the safety and security of the country by keeping it in the hands of a man unfit and incapable to be president in exchange for perhaps a few short-term wins.
At the moment, Ryan may feel like he’s winning with the rollbacks of Obama-era environmental protections, passing the AHCA through the House, and whatever other disastrous policy pushes he has up his sleeve, but one thing is for certain: history will not be kind to him if he continues down this path.