The Wall Street Journal had an odd editorial over the weekend defending Paul Ryan’s weak, dare-not-say-his-name rebuke of Donald Trump last week. I found the Ryan speech basically useless, but I can understand why he wouldn’t want to be harsher or more direct about Trump, given his official role in the party. (I don’t understand why he wouldn’t just go ahead and endorse Ted Cruz — the stakes in Wisconsin are enormous.) The Journal, though, finds more nefarious forces at work in criticisms of Ryan’s gentle treatment of Trump. The Journal writes this:
On the other side are a cast of conservative intellectuals who don’t like Mr. Ryan because he continues to believe in the Ronald Reagan–Jack Kemp vision of a tax-reforming, free-market GOP that focuses on economic growth. They think the GOP needs a policy mix to address income inequality and promote redistribution — albeit to the middle class — rather than aiming for faster growth.
They’d love to volunteer Mr. Ryan for a kamikaze political mission that leaves someone else to pick up the rubble in 2020.
The irony is that many of the same pundits now demanding that Mr. Ryan become their sword against Mr. Trump also praised the New Yorker last summer for his challenge to GOP orthodoxy. These former Trump apologists claimed the GOP should absorb his rage against the status quo. Instead of income-tax rate cuts, get behind family-friendly tax credits. Make peace with the entitlement state. Restrict trade and immigration allegedly to lift blue-collar wages. Alas for these would-be king-makers, Mr. Trump doesn’t take much advice.
I have trouble fathoming whom these passages could accurately describe, and since the Journal doesn’t provide any names, the mystery will have to live on.