Yesterday, Paul Ryan finally did something that he was never willing to do while he was the Speaker of the House and the de facto leader of the Republican Party: he publicly attacked Donald Trump. Ryan dismissed Trump yesterday as being clueless and generally unfit for the job. This raises the obvious question. If Ryan felt this way, why didn’t he say something back when it could have made a difference?
Consider what Donald Trump tweeted late last night after Paul Ryan attacked him: “Paul Ryan, the failed V.P. candidate & former Speaker of the House, whose record of achievement was atrocious (except during my first two years as President), ultimately became a long running lame duck failure, leaving his Party in the lurch both as a fundraiser & leader. When Mitt chose Paul I told people that’s the end of that Presidential run.” Trump went on and on after this, but you get the point.
Paul Ryan finally spoke up, and Trump promptly unleashed on him, thus turning Trump’s base forever rabidly against Ryan, in a way that ensures Ryan will never be viable in Republican electoral politics again. If this had happened while Ryan was still Speaker, it might have instantly brought Ryan’s Speakership to an end. Ryan couldn’t bear to go out like that, because he’s a coward – so he instead decided to simply not seek reelection. In Ryan’s bizarre self-serving far-right mindset, this means he somehow left office with dignity.
So why is Paul Ryan bothering to belatedly speak up now? No, he hasn’t suddenly grown a conscience or a spine. He’s out of office for good now, so he’s doing what failed politicians always do once they’ve slinked off the stage: he’s cashing in by writing a book. The more controversy he can stir up, the more copies he’ll sell, so he’s attacking Donald Trump in the hope that people will buy his book just to get a look at all the dirt therein. Ryan has always had no shame. Now he’s selling what little is left of his reputation for cash.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report