A family more like the Corleones than the Waltons

How the GOP leadership probably sees itself.

How the GOP leadership probably sees itself.

The thing that really jumped out at me from The Washington Post‘s revelation that Kevin McCarthy told fellow GOP leaders last year (when there was time left to head off the disaster) he thought Vladimir Putin was paying Donald J. Trump was Speaker Paul Ryan’s reaction:

Ryan instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

The remarks remained secret for nearly a year….

Family? Really? If that’s what it is, then this family is a lot more like the Corleones than the Waltons — complete with omertà.

Wait, wait: I take it back. This is more like The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight

How Paul Ryan made it sound in that meeting last year.

How Paul Ryan made it sound in that meeting last year.

53 thoughts on “A family more like the Corleones than the Waltons

  1. Bryan Caskey

    Did you read the transcript? They’re laughing the whole time. To me, it reads as if they’re laughing and joking around.

    But whatever, got to have the new fodder for the gossip girls, I guess.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Actually, no… nobody needs new fodder. This was just sort of an weird sideshow in the news of the last 24 hours. The hard news developments are coming fast and furious. In fact, just a little while ago I was complaining about the pace:

      The Post is playing this up because only they have it. But the BIG news of the day is the appointment of the special counsel. That, and Trump’s whining about it.

      Also, everybody’s still pretty much vibrating to the shocker about Trump asking Comey to go easy on Flynn.

      Oh, and remember… the revelation of Trump handing out code-word secrets to the Russians only happened THIS WEEK, which I find hard to believe, since so much is happening so fast…

    2. Claus2

      Jounalists have no sense of humor, sure they’ll joke and kid each other about grammatical and punctuation errors, but that’s about the extent of it.

  2. Bryan Caskey

    I like how the WaPo has the headline “House majority leader to colleagues in 2016: ‘I think Putin pays’ Trump” and then, waaaaayyy down in the middle of the actual piece, it says:

    “It is difficult to tell from the recording the extent to which the remarks were meant to be taken literally.”

    Right. It’s “difficult” to tell when people are joking around. Just saying, stuff like this WaPo piece is exactly why the “media” has very little credibility these days.

    And I gotta say: I’m sort of surprised you didn’t pick up on the fact that Ryan is joking around here.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, you are such a CARD, Kevin! Haw-haw…

      No, says Kevin. “Swear to God…”

      And you know what? The way Ryan was behaving with regard to Trump last year — with occasional bursts of tentative principled courage briefly interrupting the ocean of obsequiousness — it’s hard for me to know looking back when he might have been kidding.

      But all kidding aside…

      It worries me that you say “the media has very little credibility these days.”

      I’m going to make like Ed Harris in Apollo 13, and say that “With all due respect, sir, I believe this is gonna be our finest hour.”

      There’s some fine work going on in the MSM these days, and it’s work our country desperately needs at this moment. As for The Post, thank God Jeff Bezos bought them and started investing in more reporting resources just when America needed him to.

      I expect Trump loyalists to talk about how little credibility media have. That’s that they always say. They’re very alienated people. But the rest of us, from left to right and all of us in the middle, need this aggressive reporting right now as much as we’ve ever needed it.

      More than during Watergate? Yes. Suppose we didn’t find out about Watergate, and Nixon had served out his term. The nation would have been fine. Yes, that needed to be exposed, and he needed to go, but Nixon was not a danger to the country.

      Trump is. This is a FAR more dangerous moment for our country…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Do you think Ryan was joshing around when he spoke of “what Russian is doing to us, financing our populists, financing people in our governments to undo our governments, you know… all the things Russia does to basically blow up our country…”

        Yeah, it sort of sounds like he’s talking about Ukraine, but it’s vague, because he’s talking about people having “Ukraine fatigue” when it should be “Russia fatigue.” And to me, “Ukraine fatigue” sounds like something we outside observers would have, not Ukrainians…

        That leads to them talking about what Putin’s doing HERE (the DNC leaks), which does indeed put them in a jocular mood…

      2. Claus2

        Interesting that you relate everything in the world around something put out by liberal Hollywood. Everything today relates to a movie or television program.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Yeah, I have fun that way. I don’t know what’s “liberal” about it. Bryan does the same thing. That’s one of the reasons we’re friends; we enjoy the same references…

        2. Bryan Caskey

          Or books. We throw an occasional book reference in there. Cartoons, too. I think we had a Bugs Bunny reference last week.

          It’s fun. You should try it sometime.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Not the kind of thing you’d catch Cindi Scoppe doing — she’s all business.

            But if I couldn’t make fun (for me) references to pop culture stuff, I wouldn’t blog at all…

    2. Claus2

      Bryan you saw what they did with Trumps statement about women during the interview on the bus. “OMG, he said that so he must be serious!!!”. Bunch of bitter old ladies who look back at their pathetic lives and are looking for something to complain about.

        1. Claus2

          Like I said, bitter old ladies viewing every word heard as serious intention and fact. Have a doctor remove that stick and you’ll realize that talk is just talk.

          1. Norm Ivey

            If someone says say such a thing about my daughters I’ll use that stick upside their head.

            But that’s just guy talk, right?

      1. bud

        Really? The man confesses to being a serial groper, a confession backed up by at least 13 women, and you dismiss that as a mere joke. With that kind of thinking it’s no wonder that our country is slipping behind the rest of the developed world in a wide variety of standard of living measures. This really is just sad.

  3. bud

    Probably joking around but sometimes truth can be found in humor. I suspect McCarthy at least regarded his comments as plausible.

  4. Norm Ivey

    This statement in the penultimate paragraph:

    Thursday was the third consecutive morning that Mr. Trump had woken after big news had broken about his presidency the evening before.

    …strikes my ears oddly. Were they thinking he might not wake up? Or that Monday was an exceptionally good day for him? Or “Thank God tomorrow’s Friday!”?

  5. Norm Ivey

    Whether it was a joke or not is moot. It was Ryan’s, Don’t tell anyone, OK guys? that’s more of an issue for me.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Of COURSE they were horsing around! This wasn’t a situation in which McCarthy said, “Sit you down, gentlemen. I have parlous news to share, based on incontrovertible evidence: I have learned that the man about to seize control of our party is… in the pay of the Russians!” Followed by gasps and dramatic “Dah-dah-DAAHHHH!” background music.

      These were guys who had an extremely low opinion of the man they were about to elevate to the highest office in the world, who thought he was such a joke that it resonated for one of them, a Trump loyalist, to say You know what? If there’s anybody in the pay of the Russians, it’s THIS guy!”

      And no one harrumphed, no one was offended, no one thought it out of the way to say such things about their soon-to-be-standard bearer.

      That these guys lined up behind this man for whom they had such contempt — such LAUGHING contempt, if you will — speaks very, very badly about THEIR characters.

      And that’s how I think it should be seen…

  6. Brad Warthen Post author

    Here’s something I like about the 25th Amendment approach…

    Impeachment is a serious, solemn expedient for dealing with serious people who do serious things (seriously bad things, of course).

    The appropriate way to deal with Trump, it seems, is a non compos mentis finding. And the fact that it takes pretty much a consensus of our government is appealing as well. No one can say anyone was railroaded; everyone saw the threat, and acted to deal with it…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      By the way, I’m using non compos mentis the way a layman would, in the sense of the words meaning what they say. I don’t pretend to understand the way the law has applied it…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I sure hope that doesn’t lead to Pence, showing that the portrayal of him as someone duped by Flynn was bogus.

      We need Pence to be clean and unblemished, waiting in the wings…

      1. bud

        Actually the more blemished the GOP the better. Anything that helps bring down this evil empire is a good thing.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I couldn’t care less which of these bankrupt parties can claim the upper hand. What I care about is the country, and the country needs a return to stability.

          To wish the country would continue to be roiling this way after Trump’s departure is to wish a great evil on the country…

          1. bud

            The country will NEVER be normal again until the entire GOP empire is brought down. You simply cannot look at Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and see a path forward regardless of who the POTUS is. Frankly unless we have a crisis I’d just as soon keep Trump. Pence is really extreme.

            1. Richard

              Because the Hillary Clinton’s and Nancy Pelosi’s of the world are are success. Speaking of which, who are the Democrats going to run in 2020? Who is that great leader of the free world? Maybe Lindsey will run as a Democrat this time and see if he can get more than his immediate family to vote for him.

            2. Brad Warthen Post author

              “Frankly unless we have a crisis I’d just as soon keep Trump. Pence is really extreme.”

              … by which Bud means that Pence is a Republican, unlike Trump. And to Bud, Republicans are by their nature “extreme,” because they look at the world differently from the way he does.

              Trump doesn’t fit in that category, because he doesn’t believe in anything other than (against all reason) himself…

  7. Bart

    I don’t want a country dominated by one political party. That desire is the first step toward a country becoming a dictatorship under the guise of a democracy. Just look Southward toward Venezuela and what has become of a once prosperous country when a quasi dictator won the presidency. If the United States becomes a one party nation, it is then on the same path as Venezuela. When the opposition is shouted down in universities that are supposed to bastions of free speech, the first step has been taken because the ones doing the shouting down are the future leaders of this country. Anyone wanting Democrats to take total control of this country is equivalent to the lemmings who supported Chavez and now Nicolas’ Maduro. In turn, I don’t want Republicans in the same power position either.

    Donald Trump is a prime example of a small minnow somehow leaping from his small pond into a big lake filled with much larger fish. Larger fish that take no prisoners and will devour smaller fish without blinking an eye.

    He has no idea of who he is, what he is doing, and what the impact of his simplistic behavior is doing to this country not just domestically but internationally. The man is so totally lost, he cannot find his way out and because he cannot change, he is almost assured of bringing on himself total destruction. He is incompetent as POTUS but being incompetent doesn’t equate to being a criminal or committing an unpardonable crime. Unfortunately, along with his destruction comes collateral damage to everyone in this country in one way or another.

    It is time for responsible Republicans to take a walk to the White House and give Trump the same advice Nixon was given by responsible Republicans a few decades ago. Trump needs to resign as soon as possible and give the country time to heal as well as it can. And for the Pence detractors, if you wish for Pence to go along with Trump, remember who is in line after Pence. Paul Ryan – is this someone you want as POTUS by default? In many ways, I trust him less than I do Trump.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      In the abstract, and looking at examples from global history, I’m inclined to agree with Bart when he says, “I don’t want a country dominated by one political party.”


      I have strong objections to our system of having a country dominated by TWO political parties.

      You know why? Because we’ve gotten to the point where if you are a member of Party A, then you oppose anything proposed by a member of Party B, and praise as great wisdom any idiotic idea advanced by a member of Party A, and that makes it impossible to have good-faith debates that lead to intelligent policy.

      So it is that back in the 90s, when quite a few white Democrats in South Carolina were switching to the Republican Party, I set forth a Modest Proposal: I said the rest of the state’s Democrats should also switch parties, so we could do away with all the partisan nonsense, and both ideas and candidates would have to be considered on their merits, not by party label.

      That’s the way it was in South Carolina when everybody was a Democrat — you had factions of Democrats who went at each other tooth and nail on issues, but synthesis and consensus were still possible because you didn’t have the idiocy of party loyalty dictating which way people would vote. Minds could be changed; decisions could be made. Consequently, things could get done…

      Now, the Republicans are so dominant that we’re sort of approaching that at times — look at the way the mainstream Republicans and the William Wallace types go at each other in the Senate — but we’re still a good way from the ideal situation in which party is not a factor.

      If we had half a dozen parties, it wouldn’t be so bad. Things would be fluid; coalitions could shift; synthesis could still be achieved.

      But the current dichotomy is extremely harmful, militating against anyone or anything being considered on actual merits. And that’s a destructive state of affairs…

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