WaPo: How Donald Trump is ruining Paul Ryan’s speakership
By: Meredith Kelly
From Monday’s Washington Post:
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan stepped in front of cameras Tuesday and delivered just the sort of high-minded, clear-eyed, aspirational message that has made him a Republican Party standard-bearer.
”This party does not prey on people’s prejudices; we appeal to their highest ideals,” he said. “We believe all people are created equal in the eyes of God and our government. This is fundamental, and if someone wants to be our nominee, they must understand this.”
Moments later, asked what if that nominee were in fact Donald Trump — who days before had balked at denouncing the Ku Klux Klan — he was forced to retreat from the moral high ground. ”I plan to support the nominee,” he said.
When he was drafted into the speaker’s chair four months ago, Ryan acknowledged the job would be difficult. But, thanks to Trump, it has become much worse than that. He has come to embody the party establishment’s existential conflict: deeply wary of Trump’s divisive antics but reluctant to reject him entirely.
“It’s not nearly as complicated for us as it is for him,” said Peter Wehner, a Ryan friend and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center who was among the first conservative thinkers to renounce Trump. “His is a different role, and it’s a trickier role, and it requires a lot of prudence, frankly.”
Prudence, however, has gotten Ryan only so far politically. The expected complications of managing the House Republican majority have only been compounded by Trump’s unexpected endurance. Ryan’s attempts to sail above the presidential fray with an emphasis on big ideas and basic legislating have been undermined both by hard-line House conservatives and by an angry presidential front-runner who all but mocks the reverence for the party’s leading “ideas man.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee highlighted the chasm between Trump’s angry populism and Ryan’s happy-warrior conservatism when it circulated a mock obituary for Ryan’s “Year of Ideas” on Friday.
“It met its untimely and early end at the hands of a Republican electorate that is simply not interested in policy and good governance,” it read.