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Profiles in Courage: Paul Ryan Edition

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | July 11, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | July 11, 2019 |


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Politico journalist Tim Alberta has a book coming out soon called American Carnage that basically details how Donald Trump managed to transform the Republican establishment from a bunch of people who hated him into an entire party who worshipped him. The Washington Post got a hold of a copy, and from what it details, I believe the sentiment can be boiled down to two words: “Craven self-interest.” Republican ideology was quickly tossed aside in favor of … continued employment, power, and relevance, regardless of the moral cost.

Take Vice President Mike Pence, for instance, who can’t even bring himself to be in the same room with another woman without Mother present, but who has no issues carrying water for a repeated sex offender:

Alberta dings Vice President Pence and others for seeking to defend Trump as an evangelical and humble man behind the scenes seeking to help his country — while casting aside their core convictions. He reports that the vice president’s wife, Karen Pence, did not want to appear in public with her husband after the “Access Hollywood” tape and that Pence disagreed with Trump on many key issues, from immigration to trade.

Now, Pence’s oldest friends joke about whether Trump has blackmail material on him.

“Pence’s talent for bootlicking — he was nicknamed ‘the Bobblehead’ by Republicans on Capitol Hill for his solemn nodding routine whenever Trump spoke — were at their most obscene during meetings at the White House,” Alberta writes.

None of this is surprising, of course. And even large constituencies were happy to toss aside their own principles in exchange for … whatever it is that Trump offered them. Take evangelicals:

“Those f—-ing evangelicals,” Trump says in a meeting with GOP lawmakers, according to the book, smiling and shaking his head. In Trump’s mind, Alberta writes, he would “give them the policies and the access to authority that they longed for. In return they would stand behind him unwaveringly.”

Standing before the group of religious leaders in 2018, Trump said of Christianity, ” ‘I owe so much to it in so many ways.’ He then proceeded to explain that he wouldn’t be standing before them without it — not because of how the faith shaped his life or informed his worldview, but ‘because the Evangelical vote was mostly gotten by me.’ The attendees walked out of the room in a daze.”

But let’s focus here on the one guy who could have actually done the most to stand up to President Trump: former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who abandoned Trump after the Access Hollywood tape, but quickly jumped back on board when it came to his own self-interest:

Alberta reports that Trump berated Ryan over a 2018 spending bill because it didn’t include funding for his border wall but then said he would sign it if Ryan were to give him time to build suspense on Twitter. Ryan agreed and then publicly sang the president’s praises after the meeting.

When President Trump one Saturday in early 2017 accused the Obama administration of tapping his phones during the election, he called Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to ask his opinion of the predawn tweet.

A slumbering, confused Priebus opened his phone and then called Ryan, a fellow Wisconsinite and longtime ally. “Paul, what the hell is going on? What the hell is he talking about?”

Ryan woke up, read the tweet and burst into “maniacal, punch-drunk laughter.”

Huh. It would have been nice if Ryan had shared his “maniacal, punch-drunk laughter” with the rest of the American public, instead of continuing to normalize Trump’s paranoia.

However, now that Paul Ryan is out of office and no longer in a position to do a damn thing about it, Paul Ryan is criticizing Trump again, per Alberta’s book:

Now out of office and trading in his power suits for a blue vest, Ryan is back to critiquing Trump in unflattering terms in conversations with Alberta, who writes the former speaker could not stand the idea of another two years with the president and saw retirement as the “escape hatch,” in Alberta’s words.

“We’ve gotten so numbed by it all,” Ryan says. “Not in government, but where we live our lives, we have a responsibility to try and rebuild. Don’t call a woman a ‘horse face.’ Don’t cheat on your wife. Don’t cheat on anything. Be a good person. Set a good example.”

Ryan depicts Trump as uneducated about the government.

“I told myself I gotta have a relationship with this guy to help him get his mind right,” Ryan recalls. “Because, I’m telling you, he didn’t know anything about government . . . I wanted to scold him all the time.”

Ryan says he sees the presidency getting worse, with Trump determined to govern and campaign on his terms, rejecting calls from other Republicans to moderate his message in 2020.

Wow! Thank you, Paul Ryan, for standing up to this President now that *checks notes* your words have absolutely zero meaning. You’re a real profile in courage.

Source: The Washington Post

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.


Header Image Source: Getty Images


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