Thursday, July 21, 2016

Every Arch Villain Like Trump, Needs His Coward... Like Paul Ryan


For well over a decade, we've be warning that Paul Ryan is Washington's most dangerous phony and we've watched with horror as a credulous and naive Beltway media has puffed him up based almost exclusively by judging his book by it's cover. No fangs? He must be cuddly. The Center for Economic and Policy Research never bought in and, in fact, just as Ryan was finishing his convention address Tuesday evening, pointed out that the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of Ryan's latest budget plan would eviscerate the federal budget so thoroughly that it would be able to pay for nothing at all beyond the military. The Center's chief, Dean Baker, wrote that "Ryan has made his career by arguing an extreme position that is far to the right of even most of the Republican party. It is long past time that the media take seriously the position he is advocating." Krugman was one of the first among the mainstream media to get it, making clear to his readers that the emperor had no clothes at all. More recently, almost all the objective scribes in Washington finally do, not that there are many objective scribes in DC.

Yesterday's NY Times editorial board reviewed his performance-- onstage and off-- around the Trump Convention and found him "to be a weak opportunist, far from the ideas man and budget wonk he made himself out to be... Even before the credibility challenge presented by the Trump candidacy, Mr. Ryan’s reputation as a congressional thinker and innovator was subject to increasing doubts, as was his leadership of fractious House Republicans in their failure to agree on basic budget resolutions. Their election year agenda, called “A Better Way,” has been widely criticized for lacking detail in its claims about curtailing poverty. Last month, after years of vowing to come up with a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Ryan’s caucus finally offered a proposal. Far from being innovative, the plan was built around Mr. Ryan’s longstanding proposals to shift Medicare to a market-based competitor of health care companies. Under scrutiny, Mr. Ryan’s prescriptions for reforms and savings have proved to be glossy variations on the tired Republican tactic of more tax cuts favoring the rich over the middle class, while his budget-cutting proposals have never added up to his grand promises."

They pointed out that "Ryan has been careful never, ever to criticize Mr. Trump himself" but that unlike Ryan "other Republican leaders have backed away from Mr. Trump as a candidate gone amok... Ryan seems to be trying to look just loyal enough to avoid blame for a Clinton victory while positioning himself to pick up the pieces of the party if Mr. Trump loses. But he cannot have this both ways. He is tying his future to Mr. Trump’s ugly campaign."

But it was Slate writer William Saletan who was unsparing in his critique of Ryan's blatant hypocrisy and manifest unsuitability for political leadership. "In his address to the Republican convention on Tuesday night," wrote Saletan, "Ryan accused Democrats of inciting ethnic resentment. 'Let the other party go on and on with its constant dividing up of people, always playing one group against the other, as if group identity were everything,' Ryan charged. 'In America, aren’t we all supposed to see beyond class, see beyond ethnicity? Are all these lines drawn to set us apart and lock us into groups?' It was a remarkable sermon, delivered on behalf of the most egregious racist nominated to the presidency by a major party in at least half a century. Ryan spoke every word with his usual earnestness, unencumbered by shame. Looking back at history, we tend to focus on villains, men like Donald Trump who use hatred to gain power. We forget the importance of cowards. Every Trump needs his Ryan." For his own purposes, Paul Ryan has been complicit-- a leader, in fact-- in the Republican Party's public campaign to "normalize" Trump and Trumpism and make his monstrousness palatable.

Trump’s nomination confronted Ryan with a terrible dilemma. As the head of the Republican Party, Ryan had to decide whether to reject Trump and lose the election, or embrace Trump and lose the party’s soul, as well as his own. Ryan made the wrong choice. He decided that the Republican Party would criticize race baiters, but it would also tolerate and support them.

Trump has run the most racially incendiary campaign in decades. He has proposed to bar all Muslims from entering the United States. He has explicitly attacked the trustworthiness of Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, and Seventh-day Adventists. He has libeled Arab Americans, mocked Native Americans, retweeted anti-Semites, and argued that a sportscaster shouldn’t have apologized for anti-black comments. Today, no decent, well-informed person can honestly deny Trump’s penchant for prejudice.

...In an interview with CNN on June 10, Romney outlined three reasons to oppose Trump. First, racism is morally non-negotiable. It’s a deal-killer. “I simply can’t put my name down as someone who voted for principles that suggest racism or xenophobia, misogyny, bigotry,” said Romney. “If there’s someone that was an anti-Semite, for instance, and they had all of the same positions I had, and they were running for president, I simply could not vote for them.”

Second, Romney saw racism as a character issue and Trump’s deployment of it as a deep flaw, not the kind of thing consultants or speechwriters could fix. “He can change his rhetoric. I believe he can hide who he is,” Romney conceded. “But I believe that who he is has been revealed by his lifetime and by the words in the campaign that he has spoken.”

Third, Romney worried about Trump’s cultural effects. “I don’t want to see trickle-down racism,” said Romney. “Presidents have an impact on the nature of our nation. And trickle-down racism, trickle-down bigotry, trickle-down misogyny-- all these things are extraordinarily dangerous to the heart and character of America.” Essentially, Romney was challenging his party to see prejudice in a new way—to treat it as an issue of national moral health, as Republicans have traditionally done with abortion and marriage.

Initially, Ryan, too, withheld his endorsement. On May 5, two days after Trump was anointed, Ryan said he wasn’t ready to support the presumptive nominee. “This is the party of Lincoln, of Reagan, of Jack Kemp,” said Ryan. “What a lot of Republicans want to see is that we have a standard-bearer that bears our standards.” A week later, after meeting with Trump, Ryan drew a distinction between “policy disputes,” on which Republicans could agree to disagree, and “core principles,” which were non-negotiable.

Did race-baiting violate Ryan’s core principles? For two weeks, Ryan kept his silence, and Trump held his tongue. Then, at a rally on May 27, Trump unleashed a 10-minute tirade against Gonzalo Curiel, the judge presiding over a fraud case against Trump University. Trump pronounced the judge’s name for effect, eliciting boos, and informed the crowd that Curiel-- who had been born in Indiana—“happens to be, we believe, Mexican.” Trump’s spokeswoman followed up, asserting in a CNN interview on May 30 that Curiel was “connected” to protesters who brandished “Mexican flags” and were trying “to stop an American president from running for office.”

Trump’s attack on Curiel sparked a national uproar. Ryan couldn’t have missed it. But three days later, on June 2, he endorsed Trump. In an op-ed, Ryan said Trump had earned his blessing by affirming “fundamental principles such as the protection of life” and pledging to work with House Republicans on “the issues that make up our agenda.” Racism wasn’t on the list.

Hours after the op-ed appeared, Trump went after Curiel again. He said the judge’s “Mexican heritage” created “an inherent conflict of interest” that made him unfit to judge Trump, since Trump was “building a wall” on the Mexican border. Another uproar ensued. Ryan could have withdrawn his endorsement. But he didn’t.

Ryan, unlike Romney, didn’t see racism as a character issue. He treated Trump’s latest slur as a mysterious outburst. It “was out of left field, [to] my mind,” Ryan sputtered in a radio interview on June 3. “It’s reasoning I don’t relate to.” Sometimes, Ryan conceded, Trump “says and does things I don’t agree with.” But Ryan stuck with him, arguing that Trump would sign Republican bills into law.

Over the next two days, Trump repeated his attacks on Curiel’s ethnicity. On June 7, reporters asked Ryan whether he regretted endorsing Trump. Ryan called Trump’s remarks “the textbook definition of a racist comment,” but he refused to disown the presumptive nominee. “I don’t know what’s in his heart,” Ryan pleaded. In a radio interview on June 9, Ryan dismissed Trump’s racial jabs as “antics.”

Trump pressed on. After the Orlando massacre on June 12, he launched a weeklong campaign against “second-generation” Muslim Americans, those who had been born in the United States. He claimed that there was “no real assimilation” of Muslims and that they were “trying to take over our children” by telling kids “how wonderful Islam is.” Trump mocked Sen. Elizabeth Warren, calling her “Pocahontas.” He said sportscaster Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder shouldn’t have apologized for racist remarks about blacks. He tweeted an image of Hillary Clinton—originally circulated by anti-Semites-- that framed her against a background of dollar bills, next to a six-pointed star with the words, “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!”

Ryan shrugged off these incidents as unhelpful but meaningless and unrelated. He blamed the Star of David incident on a “flunky” and advised Trump to “clean up the way his new media works.” In a CNN town hall on July 12, when a questioner asked about perceptions of Republican bigotry, Ryan urged voters to focus on the party’s “ideas,” not “some of the harsh rhetoric you see here or there.” To Ryan, the racism of the party’s presidential nominee was a sideshow.

Ryan, like Romney, offered three arguments about race-baiting. But Ryan’s arguments weren’t for banishing it. They were for tolerating it. First, Ryan said it was unacceptable to divide the GOP. “If I lead a schism in our party, then I’m guaranteeing that a liberal progressive becomes president,” Ryan warned in a press conference on June 23. Three weeks later, at the CNN town hall, he shot down a questioner who asked about voting libertarian. That’s “basically voting for Hillary Clinton,” Ryan scoffed.

Second, Ryan argued that Republican leaders should yield to the will of Republican voters. In an interview that aired June 19 on Meet the Press, he declared that he had a “responsibility” not to “dis-unify our party and disrespect the voters, the Republican primary voters of America.” In the CNN town hall, Ryan said Trump “won the primary fair and square. And that is why we want to respect the will of these voters.”

Third, Ryan depicted religious bigotry as a negotiable issue and a tolerable point of view. In a June 12 interview on This Week, he emphasized that he and Trump saw eye to eye “on the big issues”: tax reform, welfare reform, and health care. When George Stephanopoulos asked about the Muslim ban, Ryan replied: “We don’t agree on that. That’s fine. Good people can disagree on things.” In the CNN town hall, Ryan again gave Trump a pass on the Muslim ban. “Look, no two people agree on everything,” he said.

These three arguments guarantee that the Republican Party, under Ryan, will accept bigots. They might be criticized or chided, but not excluded, even from the top of the national ticket. To exclude them would divide the party. It would disrespect the Trump-friendly voters who now control the Republican nominating process. It would impose absolutist judgments on a party in which the taboo against ethnic and religious slurs has been set aside as just another form of “political correctness.”

Ryan’s job at the convention, and for the remainder of the election, is to pretend that none of this has happened. So he ended his speech Tuesday night with a plea for love.

“Everyone is equal,” he said. “Everyone has a place. No one is written off, because there is worth and goodness in every life. … That is the Republican ideal. And if we won’t defend it, who will?”

Indeed, who will? Not Paul Ryan. Not the party of Lincoln. Not anymore.
Paul Ryan must never be president.
Goal Thermometer

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At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The notion of "trickle down racism" is absurd.

Herr Hair is trickling nothing.
Rather he has manipulated the well-established, well-maintained, seething American racism to corral a following.

This is the basic GOP approach for some time.
Trump has simply done away with the party-established code.

The horror isn't Trump. Racist GOP big wigs are nothing new.
The horror is the sheer numbers of (clearly, rather stupid) racists that were available to unite ... after Herr Hair disposed of the normal GOP oratorical "subtleties."

John Puma

At 8:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Puma's right. Trump is merely the GOP throwing off its white sheets and pointy dunce cap. It's never been respectable, only pretend so, which most news media have been expert at doing and highly skilled in sycopancy as well. Yet there still is a lower descent in store for the GOP if Trump wins, one inhabited many times previously by fascists around the world. Since 1945 especially, this worldwide cadre of fascist leadership has been financed, logistically supported, and often created by the United States. It's been only a matter of time till the United States' own home-grown fascism threw its own 'cloak of invisibility' to the wind and said yes this is who we are. This could be the year of living honestly, and begin an era of acting even more evilly, more than previously imaginable. Mussoline supposedly made the trains run on time. The overtly fascist United States, in foreign affairs and now finally completely so in domestic affairs, will make the blood run all the time everywhere.

At 6:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Center for Economic and Policy Research...pointed out that the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of Ryan's latest budget plan would eviscerate the federal budget so thoroughly that it would be able to pay for nothing at all beyond the military."

The military is the ONLY thing "conservatives" believe the government should ever pay for. Thus, Ryan's Budget is only codifying the very thing Republicans have been after since at least 1946. To them, We the People are not only stop the bullets to defend the wealthy from the rabble, but to pay for them as well.


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