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So This Is What It Took For Paul Ryan To Stand Up

March 5, 2018

Since the campaign season of 2016 many people, not only in Wisconsin, but across the country have asked what issue would inspire House Speaker Paul Ryan to stand up and confront President Trump.  What would it take to add spine to the manner in which Ryan deals with Trump?

Over the past few days we have discovered the answer to that question.  But with the answer comes an unsettling recognition.

There is every reason to be mighty concerned about the tariffs Trump wishes to place on steel and aluminum. Unlike Trump, Ryan has read history, is well versed in economics, and can be looked to for guidance on the weighty issue which is now creating so much angst.

Ryan has made it known that Congressional Republicans are maneuvering to stop Trump from levying harsh tariffs, and in so doing making the point that tariffs would undermine the economic agenda the GOP favors.   It would also–without Ryan saying it–throw out decades of Republican Party orthodoxy that free trade is a correct principle from which to stand.

To make the point most clear Ryan’s office released a statement saying, “We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan.”

I applaud and absolutely agree with Ryan about not allowing for these tariffs to be installed as free trade matters.  I am convinced that Ryan will use the power of his office, and the full force of the House, to challenge the proposed tariffs.

So then what concerns me about the fast messaging from Ryan on this matter about tariffs?

There have been many past issues brought to daylight where the third person in line to the presidency should have stood up to Trump, and acted for the nation.  But that never happened.

It was apparent from the start of the 2016 Election that Trump did not have core convictions.  The few things he did rave about such as being hostile to free trade or long-time alliances with nations around the globe–topics which are supposedly antithetical to the principles of the GOP–did not stop Ryan from firmly endorsing him for office.

Most recently Ryan allowed for the dissemination of intelligence information for the partisan purpose of assisting Trump.  We have never before entered such a place where intel was used in such a fashion.  Ryan had the power to intercede and yank Congressman Nunes’ chairmanship, and thereby end the matter from moving forward.   But that never happened.

I understand Ryan has a powerfully difficult job as Speaker to a caucus that is more rambunctious than rational.  On several occasions I have blogged about the way Ryan navigated a most difficult and unbelievable election cycle in 2016.

In each case I have mentioned, in one way or another, that he must not stray too afar from the moral calling that those who govern must always employ in their jobs.  At one point in October 2016 I wrote that Ryan now confronts one of those rare American moments where leadership and character can combine to make a politician taller in the eyes his fellow citizens.  Those words were written when the audio tape of Trump speaking on the bus about women surfaced.

But the words from Ryan that followed at that time were weak and meaningless.

I want to believe that at the heart of every person there exists a set of principles that play into his or her actions in life.  So with that in mind it unnerves me to consider what Trump had to do to make such a negative impression that finally pushed Ryan to say Congressional Republicans will not allow this line to be crossed.

What happened to making such a stand when Charlottesville was the headline of the day?

Or when Dreamers were placed in harm’s way?

Or when a Muslim travel ban was being contemplated?

Only when the bottom line was about money and the large corporate interests did Ryan find the need to stand up and let it be known that Congressional Republicans would fight back.

And so it goes.

  1. March 6, 2018 11:04 AM

    Ryan is the classic example of someone with a lot to offer the country (unlike, say, his buddy Scott Walker) who pissed it all away chasing filthy lucre.

  2. Solly permalink
    March 5, 2018 11:03 PM

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