Paul Ryan’s capitulation has eroded his ability to reason


I like this screengrab from a video put out by the Speaker’s office because it looks like the lady is thinking, “Wait! What did he just say?”

Reading The Washington Post this morning, I saw that some of the nation’s top Lippmans (to borrow a term from Heinlein) were really pounding House Speaker Paul Ryan, which was fine by me because I can hardly think of anyone who more richly deserves it after his abject surrender to Donald Trump last week.

Richard Cohen’s column was headlined “Paul Ryan’s profile in cowardice,” and the body text reflected the hed. An excerpt:

What I know about Ryan is that he could not be proud of endorsing Trump. He shouldn’t be. Trump will not respect him for his acquiescence (he’ll call him a loser), and neither will anyone else. Ryan puts his legislative agenda above his own principles and the good name of the country so someday he could say, yes, Trump got us into a ruinous trade war but I trimmed a bit off the Affordable Care Act….

But that was hugs and kisses compared to the way George F. Will crushed the subject. It began like this:

The Caligulan malice with which Donald Trump administered Paul Ryan’s degradation is an object lesson in the price of abject capitulation to power. This episode should be studied as a clinical case of a particular Washington myopia — the ability of career politicians to convince themselves that they and their agendas are of supreme importance.

The pornographic politics of Trump’s presidential campaign, which was preceded by decades of ignorant bile (about Barack Obama’s birth certificate and much else), have not exhausted Trump’s eagerness to plumb new depths of destructiveness. Herewith the remarkably brief timeline of the breaking of Ryan to Trump’s saddle….

And continued in the same strong vein. While his purpose is to chop up Ryan into little pieces, he manages to eviscerate Trump on his backswing. Caligulan malice… pornographic politics…

Nicely done, sir.

Then he further grinds Ryan down with contempt for the magic beans he sold his integrity for, ending with a final, slashing description of Trump:

All supposedly will be redeemed by the House agenda. So, assume, fancifully, that in 2017 this agenda emerges intact from a House not yet proved able to pass 12 appropriations bills. Assume, too, that Republicans still control the Senate and can persuade enough Democrats to push the House agenda over the 60-vote threshold. Now, for some really strenuous assuming: Assume that whatever semblance of the House agenda that reaches President Trump’s desk is more important than keeping this impetuous, vicious, ignorant and anti-constitutional man from being at that desk….

Tell it, Brother George!

But then, I had no sooner finished reading these pieces and sharing them via Twitter than this came to my attention:

So, I thought: The man has a spine after all.

I read on to see that he had also said that what Trump had said about the judge fit “the textbook definition of a racist comment.”

All right, then, I thought — the man has awakened from his zombie-like state. He is repudiating last week’s contemptible capitulation.

But no. Turns out that he still manages a complicated backflip and says he’s still supporting the racist who says indefensible things.

About what Trump said, Ryan said:

“It’s absolutely unacceptable,” he said. “But do I think Hillary Clinton is the answer? No, I do not.”

Who, pray tell, aside from aging members of the Democratic establishment and the Identity Politics warriors who think it’s highly meaningful that she is a woman, thinks Hillary Clinton is “the answer,” in the sense that Neo was “the One?”

She’s not “the answer.” But the fact is, she’s all we’ve got between us and Trump, and as Will suggested, there is no mere political consideration “more important than keeping this impetuous, vicious, ignorant and anti-constitutional man from being at that desk.”

Also, Mr. Ryan, examine your words. If Trump is, indeed, “absolutely unacceptable” — and he is — then you have no choice! You have to do all you can that is lawful and moral, even things that might be deeply distasteful to you, to stop him. Because the unacceptability is absolute! (And don’t tell me he just meant the words and not Trump. A president who goes around saying things that are “absolutely unacceptable” is himself just as unthinkable.)

Mr. Speaker, to paraphrase what the Godfather said to Sonny, I think your brain is going soft from all that comedy you’re playing with that buffoon. When Ryan threw aside the interests of the country to preserve his prerogatives in a job he didn’t want in the first place, his ability to reason abandoned him along with his honor.

22 thoughts on “Paul Ryan’s capitulation has eroded his ability to reason

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    At least our own Lindsey Graham can still think straight:

    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is calling on Republicans who have endorsed the party’s presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, to take it all back.

    Graham said Trump’s recent racist comments about an Indiana judge with Mexican-American heritage were “the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy.”

    If anybody was looking for an off-ramp, this is probably it,” Graham told The New York Times. “There’ll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary.”…

    This is indeed your off-ramp, folks. Take it…

    1. Juan Caruso

      Are you aware, Brad, of the stroke Trump has actually pulled off? You, like mainstream “journos” are probably not. Not only has Trump sucked some of the wind out of Hillary’s transparent scheme to demotivate California’s Sanders supporters, he has called attention (without personal intervention) to FACTS (membership in La Raza) that put Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s independence (justice blind?) into heavy contest. Wow, good again for Trump!

      “And who is Curiel? An appointee of President Obama, he has for years been associated with the La Raza Lawyers Association of San Diego, which supports pro-illegal immigrant organizations.” – Pat Buchanan

      “The federal judge presiding over the Trump University class action lawsuit is a member of the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association, a group that while not a branch of the National Council of La Raza, has ties to the controversial organization, which translates literally ‘The Race.’

      U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who has been criticized by Donald Trump as a ‘hater’ appointed by President Obama who should be recused from the case, listed his membership in the ‘La Raza Lawyers of San Diego’ on a judicial questionnaire he filled out when he was selected to be a federal judge. He was named in a brochure as a member of the selection committee for the organization’s 2014 Annual Scholarship Fund Dinner & Gala. Meanwhile, the San-Diego based law firm representing the plaintiffs in the Trump University case, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, was listed as a sponsor of the event.” – WND

      Dare to refute the above factually? Be my guest factually.

      1. Lumiere

        “Be my guest factually.”

        Be our guest! Be our guest!
        Put our service to the test
        Tie your napkin ’round your neck, cherie
        And we’ll provide the rest

        1. Bryan Caskey

          Exactly, Barry.

          I made the exact same point to a friend the other day. It’s telling that Trump’s own lawyers haven’t filed a motion for the judge to recuse himself. That’s because they know there’s no legal basis for such a motion, they’d probably be sanctioned for even filing it, and their reputation would be damaged.

          It must be a frustrating (but profitable) existence to be Donald Trump’s litigation team.

          1. Doug Ross

            He could say in two syllables (Trump sucks) what takes him twelve paragraphs with 16 obscure historical references and a plethora of multi-syllable words that would exhaust Roget.

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            Something that occasionally bugs me about Will is that he will air his erudition for 20 inches and never get around to making an actual editorial point. Which disappoints me.

            But that was not the case with this column. He made two points very, very well — that Trump is an abomination, and that Ryan gave up far too much in order to preserve his agenda…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              I’ll say again — elegance and erudition in the service of a clear point that needs to be made is a beautiful thing.

              And so is such “elitism” within this context. I have standards — moral standards, intellectual standards — and Trump falls far short of them. And that’s a point that should be made again and again…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, that’s what happened. And it’s inexcusable.

      I give Ryan a hard time, but I suspect this must be hell for him, for the reason that he knows better. He thinks he doesn’t have a way out, but he does.

  2. Karen Pearson

    Oh, dear! Poor Mr. Trump! It’s all our fault, again. We “misconstrued” what he said. Somehow we took his statements that the judge, whose parents were Mexican, could not be impartial because of Trump’s plan to build a wall between the US and Mexico, and turned it into a racist comment. All he meant, he says, is that based on his rulings the judge is against him. We really need to stop listening to what he says and trust that he means well.

    1. Doug Ross

      Is building a wall inherently racist? Should we tear down the existing wall because it is a symbol of racism?

      We have a problem with illegal immigrants entering the country. Nobody on the amnesty side wants to talk about what we do to secure the border. They just want to focus on the “poor families and children” who are here now (and ignore all the illegal activity they continue to perform (tax evasion, identity and insurance fraud)…

      What would YOU do to prevent non citizens from entering the country illegally? Or do you care?

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        The things we’re already doing seem to be working pretty well, if you look at the stats — although a lot of that is the weak economy.

        Overall, what would I do differently? I’d widen the gate to let more people in legally, instead of trying to stand in the way of market forces by keeping the numbers artificially low.

        I’ve never seen a good explanation of why we don’t do that. But then, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the issue, so maybe it’s out there and easily available, but I haven’t found it because I didn’t search for it…

        1. Doug Ross

          I’m fine for opening the gate as wide as you’d like for legal immigration. But we still have to deal with people who want to enter illegally and those who are already here. If you suggest amnesty and a path to citizenship that involves paying fines and fees, that’s fine as well. But, again, what do you do for those who don’t come forward because they can’t or won’t pay the fines or are afraid to lose their jobs? Any plan has to deal with non-compliance. Start with heavier enforcement against employers, remove all access to publicly funded services without documentation of status.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            You know, as much as Doug and I yell back and forth at each other, when you get down to specifics, there’s a lot of agreement between us…

  3. Bart

    Wouldn’t Trump’s comments be considered more in bad taste than racist since Mexicans defy most conventional norms for classification into a specific racial category but for the most part are classified as caucasian? Or would bias or prejudice be the more appropriate descriptive words in lieu of racist?

    The kneejerk reaction to a criticism of anyone not a white male is to label the white male as a racist and this is unfortunate because an actual act of racism is heinous and detrimental to our society as a whole. Making a dumb-ass comment is not racist, it is evidence of a the old saying of putting your mouth in motion before putting your brain in gear. Roof’s actions were racist, Trump was asking a legitimate question about the judge’s qualification to adjudicate the case before him because of the judge’s background, Hispanic heritage and his association with La Raza. We need to stop using the charge of racism in a fast draw manner every time a negative comment is made about someone who is not a white male.

    You know what a white male is don’t you? He is the most dangerous human on the face of the earth or so we are told. The white male is responsible for every evil act committed against anyone who is not a member of the exclusive “White Males Only” club. White males come in all sizes and shapes but they are easy to recognize. They are not female unless they have gender dysphoria and expect others to accept them as female, they are not black, they are not hispanic, they are not Middle Eastern, they are not oriental, they are not Indian – domestic or foreign, and the list goes on and on.

    However, many white males try to distance their identity from other white males by joining anti-white male clubs and causes therefore creating the illusion, usually a self induced illusion, they are not like the other white males one may encounter along the way. They constantly apologize for past grievances and the actions of past generations of white males and engage in self-flagellation to purge the guilt from their souls so they can face the world with a clean conscience. Occasionally some will acknowledge the contributions of the white males to society but the compliments are generally laced with a reminder of past grievances and actions perpetrated by the white males just to make sure no one will actually accuse them of being a member of the “White Males Club”. We have a few who are active participants on this blog.

    Like Phillip and to a degree, I also have a “six degrees of separation” connection with Trump and knowing more than I care to know about him through previous professional connections is one of the reasons I believe him to be a very dangerous person to occupy the Oval Office, the highest and most powerful position in the world or at least for now. I know a few like Trump who are guilty of speaking whatever is on their mind at the time and they don’t use a filter before saying what is on their mind. And we know what happens when we partake of something unfiltered that is dangerous and potentially toxic and how harmful it can be to our mental and physical health.

    Anyway, just more rambling from one who has been around for a very long time and after processing all that has happened during my lifetime, I cannot ever recall a time when we have been as divided as we are now and the underlying current of anger that is coming to the surface with a vengeance unlike anything before. Otherwise how can anyone explain how Donald Trump is the Republican nominee or the vast appeal of Bernie Sanders? As a young man growing up in this country and observing the changes over the decades, all of the great accomplishments by MLK and others who actually did something to bring about positive changes are being turned into something ugly by opportunists on all sides and all are equally culpable for the atmosphere of anger, hate, greed, blame, and outright lying that is equally encouraged and perpetrated by media outlets both left and right. The left can deny until hell freezes over but it is undeniable the left has contributed just as much to the toxic atmosphere as the right and neither side can be proud of their role in the current state of affairs.

    Comments and criticism welcome.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “Wouldn’t Trump’s comments be considered more in bad taste than racist since Mexicans defy most conventional norms for classification into a specific racial category but for the most part are classified as caucasian?”

      Actually, Mexico is the most Indian country in the Americas. Or at least, it was considered to be so when I was a kid living in South America. That could have changed (I’m unable to find a reference to it on Google). My point is, the number of people who would be characterized mainly as Caucasian is fairly small. Most Mexicans are mestizos, although that term isn’t used much any more….

  4. bud

    While I disagree with Paul Ryan on practically every issue I do understand where he’s coming from. He finds the overall cause of conservatism, as exemplified by the Republican party, more important than any one individual. He sees the party as a TEAM that transcends any individual trying to achieve the best outcome possible and that is more likely to occur even with someone as odious as Trump in the White House so long as he’s on his team. I get that even though his “best outcome” is really a detriment to what is really good for the country.

    Which is why I celebrated the nomination of Trump even though as an individual Kasich would not be quite as odious. But the overall conservative agenda would be much, much more likely to be advanced in the event Kasich was nominated. Trump serves as our best hope for thwarting the terrible GOP agenda for two reasons. First, he’s far less likely to be elected. With a Democrat in the White House the power of the veto can prevent them from doing too much damage. (Although they are quite resourceful when it comes to doing the nation great harm). Second, even if Trump were to win his presence might help the Democrats take the Senate. Of course it’s most likely Trump will lead the GOP to ruin which would be the best outcome of all.

    But even if Trump does win and the GOP holds onto congress it’s unlikely that that combination would be much more damaging than Kasich at the top. So the risk is small and the possible reward great. It really boils down to which TEAM you think will move the ball toward the goal line, not who you think should be the quarterback.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *