Politics & Policy

What Is Paul Ryan Thinking?

House Speaker Paul Ryan at CPAC 2016 in March. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)
The House speaker could have left Trump alone rather than stab him in the back.

Having suffered the political equivalent of a blown tire while driving along an icy mountain road on Friday night, GOP nominee Donald J. Trump stabilized a seemingly fatal situation by Sunday evening. Through his commanding, issue-driven performance against Hillary Clinton in the second presidential debate, Trump steered his vehicle into a turnout. He replaced the flat with a new steel-belted radial and readied himself to return to the challenging road ahead.

But on Monday morning, House speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) raced in, slashed Trump’s tire anew, and nudged him toward the closest cliff.

Ryan could have left things alone, with Trump’s Access Hollywood tape receding in the rear-view mirror. Instead, Ryan donned his peacock feathers for an especially flamboyant display of moral preening.

Ryan erased the gap that Trump had placed between his candidacy and this controversy. Rather than let it be, Ryan dragged this whole episode back into the middle of the road.

During a conference call with GOP House members on Monday, Ryan reportedly announced that he neither would defend Trump nor campaign with him between now and Election Day. Naturally, pro-Clinton journalists (forgive the redundancy) fanned this hot coal into a forest fire.

Ryan could maintain his perch atop the moral high ground and do so quietly. He simply could go about his business and avoid Trump’s events. He could respond to journalists’ questions about the GOP nominee with bromides such as “I wish Donald Trump well and look forward to winning a larger House Republican majority on the night he wins the White House.”

This would have maintained peace on the right.

Instead, the day after Trump’s solid debate effort became the new narrative, Ryan needlessly fathered the unprecedented phenomenon of a Republican standard-bearer and a Republican speaker in open warfare with each other — just four weeks before a general election.

More than merely foolish politics, this episode exposes the reputedly level-headed Ryan as truly, deeply morally warped.

Everyone agrees that Trump’s comments about women (including references to female genitalia) were disappointing and inappropriate. Trump apologized for them twice before the latest debate and did so again at Sunday’s face-off against Clinton.

“This was locker-room talk,” Trump told a town hall in St. Louis. “I am not proud of it. I apologized to my family. I apologized to the American people. . . . I am very embarrassed by it, and I hate it, but it’s locker-room talk.” 

(Remember: Trump’s words from 2005 are at issue here, not his actions. Conversely, Bill Clinton’s actual behavior somehow is no big deal. Journalists, feminists, and Democrats seem utterly uninterested in his sexual shenanigans with Monica Lewinsky, his widely acknowledged sexual harassment of Paula Jones, his alleged sexual assault of Kathleen Willey, and even a very credible accusation of rape by Juanita Broaddrick.)

But these multiple apologies were not good enough for Ryan. Apparently, Trump’s words are beyond forgiveness. So, Ryan snipped Trump’s brake lines, folded his arms, and is watching Trump’s sedan roll toward a precipice.

Ryan should ask himself these questions, as should those who applaud his behavior this week:

‐Is Trump’s “locker-room talk” so objectionable that Ryan would stand by and let Hillary Clinton win the White House?

If so, then in exchange for having a president who does not use “the P word” (as far as we know), America would be at the mercy of a more liberal, pro-choice Supreme Court. Concurrently, a Hillary-led federal government would work tirelessly to provide tax dollars for thousands — perhaps hundreds of thousands — of abortions.

To hell with Trump’s plans to turn the Hyde Amendment into an actual federal statute.

As the price for having a president who does not use the P word, Ryan seems willing to let a President Hillary Clinton keep America’s taxes high, complex, unreformed, and anti-competitive.

Hillary wants to kill the Hyde Amendment. But at least she will avoid the P word.

Ryan should ask himself: Which is worse, the sound of Trump on an 11-year-old tape or the silent screams of murdered unborn children whose numbers surely will climb under the militantly pro-abortion Hillary Clinton?

‐ As the price for having a president who does not use the P word, Ryan seems willing to let a President Hillary Clinton keep America’s taxes high, complex, unreformed, and anti-competitive. The corporate tax rate would stay at 35 percent, as taxes overall climbed by $1.55 trillion.

That would stick it to Trump, what with his P word, his 15 percent corporate tax rate, and his $4.4 trillion tax cut.

‐ As payment for having a president who avoids the P word, Ryan would hang back and let the prime mover of the disastrous Iran nuclear deal protect it as president and continue Obama’s policy of appeasing and, even worse, subsidizing Tehran’s radical-Islamic terror state with air-freight deliveries of cash and gold totaling between $1.7 billion and $33.6 billion.

Who needs Trump, his P word, and a tough stance on Iran — including scrapping or at least overhauling the Iran nuclear deal and its $150 billion in unfrozen assets?

More federally subsidized abortions, more high taxes, and more goodies for the ayatollahs.

#related#These awful things, and many more, would be the venomous spawn of a Hillary Clinton administration.

Conversely, a President Trump likely would sign most legislation that a Republican Congress put on his desk. What an opportunity!

Who, precisely, does Ryan think would sign any remotely pro-market reform that a GOP Congress sent to a President Hillary Clinton?

This vital question seems trivial to Ryan.

But — great news! — if Hillary Clinton were to be elected, America would have a president who does not use the P word. And as Paul Ryan would cheer, at least we would have that going for us.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor, a contributor to National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.

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