mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Washington Weasel-Wording”: After The Trump-Ryan ‘Summit’, Both Sides Can Pretend The Other Is Surrendering

As political theater, the “summit” between Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan was first-rate. By that I don’t refer to the street circus of protesters and counter-protesters and a thousand cameras. The “joint statement” the two men issued after a meeting in the presence of RNC chairman Reince Priebus was a quick espresso shot of nothingness topped with pious hopes for “unity.” It left everyone free to interpret it as they wish.

Like a truce between Roman generals and a barbarian chieftain in late antiquity, the “summit” will probably be regarded by each side as representing the first stage in the other’s surrender. For Trump, the very ritual of meetings with the RNC chairman, the House Speaker, the House leadership team, and (later today) the Senate leadership team connotes the conferral of respectability on a figure each and every one of these potentates has almost certainly disparaged in private as a buffoon, an overgrown juvenile delinquent, or a proto-fascist. And for said potentates, Trump’s day on Capitol Hill represents his coming domestication. This dance could go on for quite some time before any push comes to shove in a public disagreement. And by then Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party will be stuck with each other for the duration.

On Wednesday, Trump’s little-known top policy adviser, the former Iowa politician Sam Clovis, offered a good example of how easy it might be for Trump and Paul Ryan to blur their differences on even the most inflammatory issues. Pressed about whether “entitlement reform” was indeed off the table, as Trump himself seems to have said in debates and on the campaign trail, Clovis allowed as how a Trump administration might actually mosey over in that direction if fiscal circumstances so indicated. I’m sure Paul Ryan was pleased to hear that, and perhaps he was exactly the intended audience for that small but significant shift. Having spent much of the 2012 general election pretending to love Medicare more than life itself after issuing budget after budget proposing to gut it, Ryan knows how to blur his positions as well.

As Greg Sargent shrewdly observed, a lot of the distance between Trump and Beltway Republicans can be bridged by Washington weasel-wording. They’re off to a good start today.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, May 12, 2016

May 13, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee | , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Trump Could Probably Care Less”: Does Party Unity Really Matter? Not To Donald Trump

The Washington press corps descended on Republican National Committee headquarters on Thursday morning in great multitudes. They hoped only to catch a glimpse of Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan as they entered and exited the building for a meeting aimed at fostering that elusive state of grace known as “unity.” The reporters may not have witnessed any real news, but they were treated to the entertaining spectacle of a guy in a giant papier-mache Trump head dueling for mindspace with a Trump supporter blowing a shofar, so at least it was festive.

For all the assembled cameras, you’d think the election hinged on the outcome of this meeting, or at least on the broader question of whether the Republican Party can unify around its regrettable nominee. Just a few days before, however, Trump had suggested that unity is overrated. “Does the party have to be together? Does it have to be unified?” he asked George Stephanopoulos. “No, I don’t think so. I think it would be better if it were unified. I think it would be, uh, there would be something good about it. But I don’t think it actually has to be unified in the traditionally sense.”

And maybe Trump is right, even if less than entirely articulate. After all, when we talk about party unity for the election, we usually aren’t talking about the voters, whose unity is genuinely important. Instead, we’re talking about whether party figures and partisan pundits are all singing from the same hymnal. But as it happens, we’re in an age of near-unanimous party unity among voters — in 2012, Barack Obama got the votes of 92 percent of Democrats, while Mitt Romney was backed by 93 percent of Republicans. An inability to persuade nearly all Republican voters is just one of the things that could doom Trump. But how many voters actually care whether and when Paul Ryan endorses Trump, a question that has the D.C. press corps on the edge of their seats?

My guess is, very few. Yes, endorsements can be important signals, and if lots of Republican officeholders don’t endorse Trump, it could remind GOP voters that he may not truly be one of them. But it isn’t like those voters aren’t going to have enough information to make a decision by the time we get to November without getting their marching orders from Paul Ryan. Whether Republican elected officials get behind Trump is a problem for them much more than it’s a problem for Trump.

And it is certainly a problem for them. That’s why so many Republican senators up for reelection have been hemming and hawing about whether they’ll actually endorse Trump, with most settling for saying, “I’ll support the nominee of my party” without allowing his name to pass their lips. They don’t want to alienate Trump supporters, but they also don’t want Trump’s stench to settle on them. This is particularly true of those running in states like Illinois, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire, where Trump is likely to lose.

But Trump himself probably couldn’t care less whether, say, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) supports him. He’ll win or lose New Hampshire on his own merits (or lack thereof), and what she has to say about it will change few minds. There may be some voters who don’t quite know yet what they think about Donald Trump and might be influenced by an endorsement from a politician they admire, but by November there won’t be too many of them.

That’s the position Paul Ryan says he’s in right now: He’s not quite sure what to make of this Trump fellow, and would like to learn more about him before coming to a decision on his endorsement. Ryan is acting like he’s holding a pledge of eternal love and loyalty, and he doesn’t want to give it away in haste. But I suspect that what he’s really concerned with is his carefully cultivated image among the D.C. press corps.

Having worked so hard (and with so much success) to convince reporters that he’s a thoughtful, serious wonk, it wouldn’t do to jump behind a buffoon like Trump too quickly. So he has to be seen agonizing over the decision, torn between loyalty to his party and a deep concern for both civility and the conservative policy positions which Trump can’t be trusted to uphold. “It’s no secret that Donald Trump and I have had our differences,” Ryan told reporters after their get-together. “The question is what is it that we need to do to unify the Republican Party and all strains of conservative wings of the party. It was important that we discussed our differences that we have, but it was also important that we discuss the core principles that tie us together.”

Mission accomplished: Ryan reminded everyone that he and Trump have “differences,” but also that he’s a party man who wants what’s best for the GOP. Then when November comes and Trump loses, Ryan will have made sure everyone already knows that he never liked him in the first place. At which point it’s on to 2020 with Ryan’s reputation intact. Unity is all well and good, but not if it leaves you damaged when the time comes to fulfill your own ambitions.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Week, May 13, 2016

May 13, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Voters, Paul Ryan | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“What A Healthy Political Party This Is”: Why Sarah Palin’s Feud With Paul Ryan Matters

For months, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) offered two competing messages. The Republican leader repeatedly felt compelled to denounce Donald Trump’s rhetoric, but at the same time, the Wisconsin congressman insisted he would support his party’s presidential nominee – no matter who prevailed in the primaries and caucuses.

But late last week, with Trump’s GOP rivals having abandoned the race, Ryan just couldn’t bring himself to follow through. “I’m just not ready to do that at this point,” he said when asked about backing Trump publicly. “I’m not there right now.”

Some congressional Republicans were incensed, as were some Republican pundits. Trump is even threatening to remove Ryan as chairman of this year’s Republican National Convention. But as MSNBC’s Christina Coleburn reported yesterday, a certain former half-term governor of Alaska intends to go even further.

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said in an interview that aired Sunday that House Speaker Paul Ryan could be ousted for his hesitancy to back Donald Trump, and suggested that Ryan’s reluctance was fueled by aspirations to run for president in 2020.

When asked for her thoughts about Ryan’s stance on Trump, Palin invoked former Rep. Eric Cantor. The ex-Republican House majority leader, who was viewed as the likely successor to former House Speaker John Boehner, was defeated by a Tea Party challenger in a stunning upset in the 2014 Virginia primary.

“I think Paul Ryan is soon to be ‘Cantored,’ as in Eric Cantor,” Palin said on CNN. “His political career is over but for a miracle because he has so disrespected the will of the people, and as the leader of the GOP, the convention, certainly he is to remain neutral, and for him to already come out and say who he will not support was not a wise decision of his.”

I see. So, the Republican Party’s 2008 vice presidential nominee has decided to go to war with the Republican Party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee.

What a healthy political party this is.

The reference to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) wasn’t accidental. The Alaska Republican added yesterday that she’s throwing her support behind Trump supporter Paul Nehlen, who’s taking on Ryan in a Wisconsin primary.

“Yes, I will do whatever I can for Paul Nehlen,” Palin said. “This man is a hard working guy, so in touch with the people. Paul Ryan and his ilk, their problem is they have become so disconnected from the people whom they are elected to represent … they feel so threatened at this point that their power, their prestige, their purse will be adversely affected by the change that is coming with Trump and someone like Paul Nehlen that they’re not thinking straight right now.”

A few hours later, Palin posted a Facebook message, which she appears to have written herself: “Rep. Paul Ryan abandoned the district he was to represent as special interests dictated his legislative priorities. Without ever having a real job outside of politics, it seems he disconnected himself from the people, thus easily disrespected the will of the people. It’s time for a change.”

Remember, by most metrics, Paul Ryan is the most conservative House Speaker in modern American history, but for the Trump wing of the Republican Party, Ryan is just an establishment sellout who needs to be replaced.

There’s little to suggest Ryan’s career in jeopardy – though, in fairness, I would have said the same thing about Eric Cantor two years ago at this time – and there’s even less to suggest the Speaker is worried about the primary. Palin has a habit of picking pointless fights that don’t amount to much, and for her to complain about someone else “abandoning” their constituents is kind of hilarious.

But the bottom line is that in a normal, functioning party, fights like these simply don’t happen. In 2016, it’s become almost commonplace in Republican politics.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 9, 2016

May 10, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Sarah Palin | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Worse Than Useless”: Emergencies Causing Problems For The Do-Nothing Speaker

At the New Republic David Dayen has an appropriately scathing appraisal of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s accomplishments this year. He famously cannot get a budget resolution passed. He’s done nothing on the list of priorities he announced when he took up the gavel. But beyond those failures, he can’t even deal with emergencies, including the Puerto Rico debt crisis, the Zika crisis, the Flint water-poisoning disaster, and the opioid epidemic.

To Dayen, that makes Ryan worse than useless, because “[t]he basic test of governance is the ability to respond to rapidly changing events.” This may be true in theory, but the entire premise of Ryan’s accession to the Speakership is that he’d place “governance” on hold until November, despite a Potemkin village semblance of “regular order” and other legislative activity. Here’s how I put it back in December:

What Boehner, McConnell, and Ryan in turn appear to have accomplished is to convince conservative activist groups and the members of Congress who listen to them to become satisfied with an apocalypse later rather than an apocalypse now. Ryan will get the lion’s share of praise as some sort of party-unifying genius, but it’s the promise of a postelection conservative ideological feeding frenzy that’s really done the trick. If Republicans pull off the POTUS/House/Senate trifecta next year, then the kind of policies now considered “divisive” when pushed against the resistance of Senate filibusters or presidential vetoes will then be noncontroversial.

And so, all the controversial stuff was dumped out of a continuing appropriation and tax extender package (the so-called “taxibus”) that ensured the federal government would continue to function until the end of the fiscal year (conveniently near Election Day), with the gamble being that divisions over what to do with a Democratic president might soon be moot.

But this do-nothing plan didn’t take emergencies into account, and thus emergencies are hanging fire for Ryan.

He will presumably muddle his way through, but the steadily darkening prospects for any sort of Republican mega-win in November is making all the signatories to this implicit deal uneasy. And if things go south on Election Day, so will Ryan’s reputation:

If, on the other hand, the GOP loses the presidency and/or the Senate, then the party could be back to where it was when Boehner was Speaker, and Paul Ryan won’t necessarily be any better at dealing with frustrated right-wingers.

The difference is that Ryan may be exposed as a fraud, which is not what he had in mind when he agreed to take the gavel.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, April 22, 2016

April 24, 2016 Posted by | Emergency Resolutions, Federal Budget, Governing, Paul Ryan | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Paul Ryan To GOP; I Can’t Be Your Everything”: His Current Job, That He Didn’t Want, Isn’t Going That Great

Paul Ryan wants you to know he’s not in the running to be president, and it’s not like when the Speaker of the House assured the public he wasn’t in the running to be Speaker of the House.

This time he wants you to know he means it.

That’s why he’s been putting out shiny, overly produced, campaign-style videos on foreign policy and giving flag draped speeches about the “common humanity” that should unify the Republican Party and the nation?

Nevermind that. This time he means it.

“We have too much work to do in the House to allow this speculation to swirl or to have my motivations questioned. So let me be clear: I do not want, nor will I accept, the nomination for our party,” Ryan told a room brimming with reporters at the Republican National Committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters.

(We’ll come back to the work Ryan wants to (and has failed to) get done in the House later.)

His forceful non-presidential announcement itself turned some heads on Capitol Hill.

“Was he in the running [at] the convention?” asked Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) when The Daily Beast informed him of Ryan’s press conference. “From Paul and from my friends in the House, I have had no one ever confirm the fact that he ever had any interest.”

The news that Ryan’s taken his name out of the running, by some accounts for the 19th time now, hit more moderate Republicans like a punch in the gut as they survey the GOP field that is dominated by reality TV star Donald Trump and conservative bomb-throwing Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

“That’s too bad. He was never pushing the talk – it was others,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), admitting that he was one of those on the Hill prodding Ryan to allow his name to be offered on the convention floor in Cleveland. “Paul Ryan would be great for the party and he could certainly win. I’ve known him for years and he’s a good conservative.”

But we’ve heard Ryan take his name out of the running for Speaker, only to offer it and be handed the most coveted gavel on Capitol Hill.

How different will this really be?

“Those are apples and oranges. Being Speaker of the House is a far cry from being President of the United States, specifically because I was already in the House; I’m already a congressman,” Ryan argued as progressive activists protested outside. “I was asked by my colleagues to take a responsibility within Congress that I’ve already been serving in from the one that I had. That is entirely different than getting the nomination for President of the United States by your party, without even running for the job.”

In fairness, his current job, that he didn’t want, isn’t going that great.

As Speaker, the numbers wonk has failed to unite the conservative wing of his party. Take this year’s budget battle, which Ryan seems to have lost.

Ryan was propelled to Republican fame during his tenure as chairman of the Budget Committee where he offered aggressive proposals to cut the social safety net and restructure entitlements, like Medicare. While that made him the whipping boy of progressives, it earned him the GOP’s vice presidential nomination in 2012.

After that  failed campaign, he returned to the House as the Ways and Means chairman – not as prestigious as the veep spot but that’s where tax policy is written, so powerful nonetheless.

When he was elected speaker, he vowed to use his new perch atop the House to show the American people that conservatives can govern by passing a spending blueprint by Tax Day.

That deadline is just days away. And  the tea party wing of the House revolted – as they are known to do – and it seems the lower chamber will fail to even pass a budget.

Thus instead holding a press conference showing a united Republican Party, budget in hand, he was forced to insert himself into presidential politics and beg convention delegates to stay in line and stop loving him so much.

“If no candidate has a majority on the first ballot, I believe that you should only choose from a person who has actually participated in the primary. Count me out,” Ryan added. “If you want to be the nominee for our party, to be the president, you should actually run for it.”

Many conservatives argue it would be better for Speaker Ryan’s future to focus on governing the House, instead of jumping into the crazy world of Election 2016.

“There’s no doubt about that,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) told The Daily Beast. “Being Speaker of the House, it’s an extremely difficult and challenging job, and he has the ability to be successful at that. I would just ask, but I think his problems will be greater if he’s not in the mainstream of Republican voters on big questions like trade and immigration.”

Sessions, who has endorsed Trump,  added it would be unfair to millions of conservative primary voters for Ryan or another GOP leader to orchestrate a twelfth hour takeover at the convention.

“A lot of people have spoken at these elections. American people are not happy with the establishment of the Republican Party,” said Sessions. “And I guess the Speaker of the House would have to be classified as part of the establishment, right? So it would be hard to make that move—to go from a Ted Cruz and a Donald Trump to somebody who symbolizes the business as usual.”

 

By: Matt Laslo, The Daily Beast, April 13, 2016

April 14, 2016 Posted by | Election 2016, Establishment Republicans, Paul Ryan, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: