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Plain Talk: Where was 'courageous' Paul Ryan when we needed him?

Plain Talk: Where was 'courageous' Paul Ryan when we needed him?

Konopacki 6/9
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Did you ever wonder what Donald Trump really thinks about Paul Ryan?

Wonder no more after Trump furiously lashed out at the former Janesville Republican congressman and speaker of the House after Ryan suggested in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library late last month that clinging to the populist appeal of one personality will doom the GOP.

"Even worse, it was horrifying to see a presidency come to such a dishonorable and disgraceful end," Ryan added, referencing Trump's false claims of a stolen election and the Jan. 6 uprising at the Capitol.

Although several moderate Republicans and pundits hailed Ryan's "courage," the former president, naturally, wasn't amused.

He called Ryan a RINO (Republican in Name Only) and criticized him for being part of the party's losing 2012 national ticket with Mitt Romney.

"Ryan, who became a lame duck Speaker of the House, lost all vote-getting capability with the people he represented in Wisconsin, and was the single biggest factor, other than Romney himself, for the monumental Romney/Ryan loss in the Presidential race of 2012," he fumed.

Trump added, "Interestingly, I was in the Great State of Wisconsin when they booed him off the podium — I literally had to come to his rescue."

Ryan was booed at a Trump Wisconsin campaign event in 2016 after he took back an invitation to Trump in the wake of the Access Hollywood tape in which he famously bragged about grabbing women's genitals. Trump was not at the rally, but the rest of the Wisconsin GOP leadership was there.

Trump even jabbed at Ryan for his role on the board of Fox Corp., to which Ryan was appointed during the past year.

"It was the day that Ryan went on the board of Fox (Fox will never be the same!) that Fox totally lost its way and became a much different place, with millions of its greatest supporters fleeing for good," Trump said.

The former president concluded: "As a Republican, having Paul Ryan on your side almost guarantees a loss, for both you, the Party, and America itself!"

Don't you just love these united make-America-great-again Republicans? Must be why they get so much done for the good of the country.

And speaking of the good of the country, let's take a peek back at the guy who now has apparently grown enough backbone to actually call out the most destructive force in the history of American politics. If you recall, he could have stood up to Trump several times these past few years, but always bowed to him when the chips were down.

Where was he when the nation needed him?

As the Nation Magazine's Elle Mystal wrote when the mainstream media started fawning over Paul Ryan's willingness to now speak out, "Let’s not make any mistakes about who Ryan still is and what his 'principles' are. Before he debased himself into retirement, Ryan was an Ayn Rand sock puppet on a personal crusade to starve the government of resources so it could not deliver services.

"And the glory days he’s hoping to resurrect are nothing more than that: a return to the days where Republicans expressed their cruelty through charts and graphs instead of tweets and slurs. Ryan just wants the cult of tax cuts to reassert its dominance over the cult of Trump," he wrote.

We noted in an editorial a couple of years ago when Ryan, after his retirement from politics, claimed that he and other moderate Republicans surrounding Trump steered him to make better decisions.

"Say what? Better decisions? Which ones?" we asked then. "To exit the Paris climate agreement and appoint charlatans who have attacked climate science to critical positions in the federal government? To scrap the Iran nuclear deal? To fire the director of the FBI in a fit of anger over inquiries into Russian meddling with the 2016 election? To attack and undermine the Affordable Care Act? To cut taxes for the wealthy in a deficits-be-damned orgy of budget busting? To demonize immigrants and divide the nation? To identify 'very fine people' among the fascists in Charlottesville? To pack his Cabinet with grifters? To make a mockery of the emoluments clause while ushering in the most scandal-plagued presidency in American history? To disregard the separation of powers and make the legislative branch of the federal government a servant of the executive branch?"

It's easy for Paul Ryan to pose for holy pictures now, even as an official in the Fox News family that continues to promote the most disgraced president in history.

But he was missing in action when he was most needed.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com608-252-6410 and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.  

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