It’s ironic, but the closer we get to the incredibly important 2022 midterm elections – now inside of three weeks – the more some folks want to talk about Donald Trump and his more-than-likely 2024 bid.
With the issues surrounding the upcoming elections pretty much settled and early voting having begun in practically every place that offers it, it looks as though some political observers are getting bored with the media’s back-and-forth on inflation, immigration and abortion. Conservatives favor steering the conversation back towards the issues that really matter, but, as usual, Democrats are scaring the bejesus out of Americans with gloomy forecasts of doom for women of reproductive age should Republicans take congressional majorities after November 8.
Replay the tape from any past election and you’ll hear the same song from Democrats – Republicans are racists, sexists, bitter clingers, homophobes, xenophobes, whatever-phobes and seek to send the nation and world back to a 1950’s post WW II mentality where all women were barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen baking cookies.
Meanwhile, the stupid and wasteful House January 6 investigatory committee wrapped up its public show trial phase last week, with Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and chums predictably taking several parting shots at former President Donald Trump and his closest advisors. As the inimitable and unmatched Julie Kelly pointed out at American Greatness, the Nancy Pelosi-inspired witch hunt – oops, I meant committee – didn’t even break the surface on many of the most important lingering questions, such as, what was the DOJ’s and FBI’s role on that day?
Any serious delving into what happened two weeks before senile president Joe Biden’s inauguration will have to wait until a Republican-controlled House takes over in less than three months, assuming the GOP establishment leaders then possess the resolve to broach a subject that could cost them a smidgen of popularity, but only with the Trump-hating low information voters in America.
The Republican ruling class brain trust is historically risk-averse and always desirous of avoiding controversy. It’s the type of surrender-before-you-fight strategy that’s squandered party congressional majorities for most of this century and resulted in Democrats passing a wealth of disastrous legislation (and Obama and Biden signing Executive Orders). It’s a shame to ponder what might have been if former Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan had grown a backbone and used their power to rip the cover off the sleaze of the Obama administration and the compromised deep state.
Speaking of former Speaker Paul Ryan, the jelly-spined former GOP vice president nominee shared his nitpicky impressions on Trump and 2024 last week. In a piece titled “Paul Ryan: Trump’s ‘unelectability will be palpable’ by 2024”, Julia Mueller wrote at The Hill:
“[Former Speaker Paul Ryan said,] ‘I think Trump’s unelectability will be palpable by then. We all know that he will lose. … We all know that he is so much more likely to lose the White House than anybody else running for president on our side of the aisle, so why would we want to go with that?’ Ryan said in an interview with Teneo for its ‘Insights Series.’ Ryan is vice chairman of Teneo, a public relations and CEO advisory firm.
“’The only reason he stays where he is is because everybody’s afraid of him. They’re afraid of him going after them, hurting their own ambition. But as soon as you get the herd mentality going, it’s unstoppable,’ Ryan said.
“He noted Trump’s lack of strength in polls that consider him as the hypothetical 2024 Republican candidate and said he’s sure the former president will be aware of that. ‘Whether he runs or not, I don’t really know if it matters. He’s not going to be the nominee, I don’t think,’ Ryan said.”
Hmpf. Where to start? First off, can you imagine a former Democrat Speaker ever saying something like what Ryan just said about Joe Biden or any other potential party candidate? Oh, that’s right, you’d have to go back to the early nineties to find Nancy Pelosi’s predecessor as the Democrat head of the House, and that would be Tom Foley. And he’s dead (passed away in 2013).
The point being that it seems to be a unique talent for Republicans to savage and criticize their own so as to appear “impartial” and “bipartisan” -- like either of those traits ever won anybody anything. It’s no secret that Trump and Ryan didn’t get along very well and their tension-filled relationship was mostly caused by the latter man’s hesitation to back the former’s presidential bid and MAGA agenda even when Trump had clearly bested every other Republican running in 2016.
The Washington establishment – of which Ryan, Boehner, Mitt Romney, John McCain, John Kasich, Mitch McConnell, Liz Cheney, and every other Trump-basher belongs – has its own purposes, primarily concentrated on preserving as much power for themselves as humanly feasible. These poorly defined “Republicans” pretend to believe in things like fiscal responsibility, a strong military, tight immigration enforcement and the pro-life cause, but when push comes to shove, they always shrink from a testy scrap with Democrats.
Trump, of course, wasn’t in to playing nice with anyone, including the stodgy leaders of the Republican Party. From the beginning, Trump let it be known that when (not if) he was president, there would be a new attitude in Washington. The New York outsider was partially correct, but unfortunately, he filled his administration with way too many establishmentarians rather than completely cleaning house. And it cost him on numerous occasions.
Ryan was typically ambivalent all throughout the 2016 nominating process right up to the party convention in Cleveland where he technically presided. I recall that Paul opened the festivities, hung around until Tuesday night to make a speech and then jetted out of town rather than appear too closely associated with the man who would ultimately defeat the hated Hillary Clinton and hence become the 45th president of the United States.
For some reason, blueblood Republicans have always placed the boyish Ryan up on a pedestal. The Wisconsin congressman was once regarded as a solid conservative up-and-comer, probably due to his famous “Roadmap for America’s Future” budget plan that would have, had it been implemented when the GOP had the chance, supposedly put the country on course to balanced ledgers and long term fiscal solvency.
Who can forget Ryan’s legendary head-to-head debate duel with Barack Obama when Congress was working on budget reform? It was the stuff of genius. Paul’s star was on the rise and crested when Mitt Romney tapped the Wisconsin native to be his running mate in 2012. Ryan debated senile Joe Biden (“We call it malarkey”), the Republicans lost the election and all the air seemed to go out of the poor establishmentarian’s balloon.
Also remember that Ryan was brought in as a GOP “unity” candidate to preside over the Republican House after chain smoking and wine-swilling John Boehner had had enough and stepped away from the swamp. The Wisconsinite “reluctantly” agreed to serve as Speaker and then proved to be every bit as disappointing as conservatives predicted he would be, constantly compromising with Democrats and even passing some bills without majority support from his own conference.
Trump was a brawler and a fighter. Ryan had morphed into a deal-maker and capitulator.
Now Ryan has joined with the minority Never Trump faction to slap at the popular (within the Republican Party) leader whenever the opportunity presents itself. One would think being away from Washington for a few years would help heal Ryan’s lingering bitterness towards the man who achieved success after success for his own party, but it hasn’t happened.
Ryan has been gone so long – or at least it seems that way -- that he’s rarely heard from and it’s unclear what his political ambitions might be. Still relatively young by Washington standards – he’ll turn 53 next January – Ryan clearly has time left on the actuarial clock to figure out some pathway to return to the national scene. He’s got near universal political name recognition, and any dark horse attempt to reenter the arena would likely carry with it the backing of the Bush wing of the GOP along with a good many current ruling class Republicans.
Who knows? By insinuating that Trump’s 2024 “unelectability would be palpable”, perhaps Ryan tossed out out subtle hints that he himself might swoop in from the sidelines to try for the nomination himself. With the 2024 buzz already at high ebb, there haven’t been any mentions of the former Speaker as a potential candidate, but he nonetheless could be thinking about it.
Perhaps Ryan views himself as a top competitor for the Never Trump side. Baby face Paul could serve as a “White Knight” type candidate when such a possibility is invariably raised, or he could preemptively form a “unity” ticket before the primaries even start with Liz Cheney to market themselves as “bipartisan reformers” who would attract Americans fed up with both Trump and senile Joe Biden.
Why else would someone like Paul Ryan come in from nowhere and start lofting rhetorical bombs at Trump? Unlike many of his anti-Trump Republican cohorts, I don’t see Ryan as a good possibility for a commentary position at one of the liberal network or cable news outlets. And, to my knowledge, he hasn’t tried his hand at hosting a talk show either.
Ryan obviously remains deeply connected to the Washington swamp lobbying industry and his rolodex hasn’t grown so out-of-date that he’s no longer relevant when some corporate giant jingles his phone.
Could it be Paul Ryan, 2024?
Everyone figures that talk of the 2024 election will only increase once the midterms are over in a few weeks, and Donald Trump’s supporters – and enemies – will emerge from the shadows to let their opinions be known. Paul Ryan’s comments on Trump’s “unelectability” seemingly came out of the blue unless there’s something more to them. Time will reveal the answer.
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