Isn’t it funny how establishment Republicans counsel that the party must move on from the
Donald Trump era but keep invoking his tenure and shaming his leadership style -- and voters -- to make the point?
It isn’t exactly news when it happens, but the establishment media makes a big deal out of it anyway. Such was the case a week ago when former Speaker Paul Ryan made a speech at the Reagan Library in California and did his darndest to disparage the former president without stating the man’s name outright. Holier-than-thou political cowards like Ryan enjoy savaging someone without exhibiting the stones to name names and throw down gauntlets. The wishy-washy ruling elites’ fear is particularly acute when Trump is the subject. For his part the New Yorker seemingly relishes the chance to punch back.
Was the gutless Ryan just trying to stir the pot? Max Greenwood reported at The Hill:
“Trump returned fire a day after Ryan delivered a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., warning of the political perils facing the Republican Party if it continues on its current trajectory. ‘If the conservative cause depends on the populist appeal of one personality, or on second-rate imitations, then we’re not going anywhere,’ Ryan said in a clear reference to Trump.
“During his speech, Ryan did not criticize Trump by name, although he left no doubts as to whom he was referring to. At one point, he said that GOP voters would ‘not be impressed by the sight of yes-men and flatterers flocking to Mar-a-Lago,’ the former president’s private club in Palm Beach, Fla.
“It wasn’t the first time Ryan has found himself at odds with Trump and his most ardent supporters. He was sharply critical of Republican efforts earlier this year to challenge President Biden’s Electoral College victory, calling the objections ‘anti-democratic and anti-conservative.’”
Blah, blah, blah. Egocentric Ryan never took kindly to the notion of a formalities-side-stepping political outsider coming in from the private sector -- and reality TV -- and rearranging the deck chairs in hopes of saving the GOP’s Titanic -- sometimes known as Congress. Those same Republican voters Paul referred to had handed control of the House in 2010 (and then the Senate in 2014) to the GOP elites, expecting them to make good on their vows to cut government and put up a fierce fight against Obama and his merry band of socialism loving, vote-taking cutthroats.
Needless to say, the “leaders” fell short. Not only did they fall short, they essentially allowed Obama to keep his own promise to transform America through his executive pen. Amnesty for illegal aliens? The disastrous Iran Deal? Same-sex marriage? Where was Congress?
So what was Ryan after now? Singer Bonnie Raitt crooned “Let’s give ‘em something to talk about” in the early nineties, taking gossipers to task for their innate need to pass on surreptitious small-talk about others. Raitt was referring to rumors of romantic connections, but her gist equally applies to politics. Paul Ryan doesn’t appear to do a whole lot these days and by the looks of it, the political world has all-but forgotten about the Bush and Obama-era boy wonder.
In dissing Trump, Ryan was simply giving ‘em (the media and Trump’s multitude of haters on liberal cable news and the #NeverTrump hangers-on who can’t go an hour without disparaging the former president and GOP leader) something to talk about. Naturally, the journos took the slam and ran with it. GOP turmoil! GOP turmoil! Trump! Trump! Trump! Where’s Liz Cheney? George W. Bush? Bill Kristol? The Bulwark? The Lincoln Project (oops, they’re not in vogue these days)?
Say, how about Paul Ryan? John Boehner’s tried his hand at bashing Trump and it didn’t get off the ground. Who else would have any credibility much less name recognition?
Way back in his “Road map” days, Ryan presented himself as the golden boy of Republican politics, the (relatively) young, fresh-faced midwestern congressman from cheese country who knew numbers like the class nerd and hoped to bring the party and nation back to fiscal sanity. He took on Obama in those Obamacare hearings, remember? “We really have a difference on all of this. We don’t want the government to be in control of this (presumably healthcare). We want the people to be in control,” Ryan complained.
Somewhat hilariously, senile Joe Biden was sitting next to the “Big O” while the Wisconsin congressman made his mano-y-mano case back then. This was the same Joe Biden who would face off against Ryan in the vice president debate a couple years later, the Democrat condescendingly referring to Paul’s ideas as “malarkey” and maniacally smiling and laughing his way to a media-determined victory.
Pre-debate commentators suggested Ryan’s penchant for “numbers” and “plans” would overwhelm the back slappin’, hair sniffin’ intellectual lightweight “Uncle” Joe. It didn’t happen. Even Republican supporters thought Paul wasn’t nearly aggressive enough. And they said the “wimp” factor only applied to George H.W. Bush…?
The truth is, Ryan was a tool then and he’s volunteering to come back to the game and act in the same capacity now. As speaker, Paul had his chance to rip the heart out of Obamacare -- or, as head of the House, to at least tug at its funding mechanisms -- but he didn’t exert a whole heck of a lot of fortitude and leadership on the matter. Typical for establishmentarians, Ryan consistently whined that he didn’t have the votes in his own caucus for a full repeal and a more market-oriented replacement.
One can’t help but feel a stronger personality and leader could’ve gotten the job done. Democrats are relentless. Can you see Nancy Pelosi ever groveling to the press about not having the requisite majority party support to pass something she wanted to get done? Heck no! San Fran Nan would just invite the potential Democrat naysayer to her office and sing “Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall” until the poor sap relented. Or she’d hold her nose and jump up and down on one foot and say she wouldn’t take another breath until the vote was secured. Who knows how many times her face has turned completely blue before a victory was won.
How else does the Bay Area rhymes-with-rich always get what she wants? “Squad” members can’t compete with the ferocity and viciousness of their speaker. In a mud wrestling scrum, I’d bet on Pelosi any day!
Ryan ain’t no Nancy Pelosi, except maybe in one respect: they both hate Trump and would do anything to stop his drive to Make America Great Again by returning the power to the American people. Establishmentarians resent Trump because he wasn’t willing to accept the status quo and allow the country to bleed to death, one drip (or new law or executive order) at a time.
Ryan clearly resents that Trump unapologetically kept his promises to the grassroots, something that the Wisconsin native never tried to do. And when he did stick his nose out, the media turned him into a granny in the wheelchair-off-a-cliff pushing monster. Rather than digging at Trump -- the most successful Republican president since Reagan -- why didn’t Ryan embrace the movement and give credit where it’s due? He could’ve been a conservative’s hero instead of a lobbyist’s goat.
Perhaps it’s because Trump makes no secret of his disdain for RINO Mitt Romney and constantly reminds the now Utah Senator of his (and Ryan’s) pathetic performance vis-à-vis Obama and senile Joe in the 2012 election. Ryan’s legacy is invariably tied to Romney’s, so if Trump regularly jabs at Mitt, he’s taking a less obvious hit at Paul, too.
Whatever the reason, there’s no justification for Paul Ryan to poke at Donald Trump when there’s more than enough “ammunition” lying around to assail senile Joe Biden and the rest of the Democrat America destroyers many times over. Eventually Ryan -- and his establishment friends -- must get over themselves and join the right side. Or simply pipe down.
Reagan Library speech