'He's Failed in the Face of Adversity': Former GOP Congressman Tears into Paul Ryan's Shameful Legacy

'He's Failed in the Face of Adversity': Former GOP Congressman Tears into Paul Ryan's Shameful Legacy

Whichever way the House goes in November, House Speaker Paul Ryan will not be returning to Congress next January. And few on either side are impressed with his legacy.

In an appearance on MSNBC's "Deadline: White House" with fellow Republican commentator Nicolle Wallace, former congressman David Jolly (R-FL) savaged Ryan over his ineffectual tenure, and his abandonment of whatever principles he might have held. The comments came in response to an interview in which Ryan said he believes he managed during his time as speaker to influence Trump's thinking and avert "tragedy," but refused to share any specific examples.

"I was in the room when Paul Ryan was elected speaker, and the House caucus was struggling with who's going to be our next leader," said Jolly. "And he stood there and said, 'I don't want the job, I'm not sure I'll be good at it, I'm not gonna travel, I'm not gonna fundraise.' But he was the only choice we had in the race."

"And I think what we're seeing in his resignation is this: this is no longer Paul Ryan's party, and he knows it. Whether he's willing to say that or not, this is Donald Trump's party, not Paul Ryan's. He is, at this point, because of having transacted on the corporate tax bill, nothing more than a for-profit Republican we see in the finance community, that sold their souls for the benefit of Donald Trump."

In many respects, it can be difficult to notice how Trump has affected Ryan's interests in office because the two dovetail on most major policies, from last year's enormous tax giveaway to the wealthy, to the GOP's repeated attempts to repeal affordable health coverage for the poor and sick.

But there are other issues on which Ryan once disagreed with Trump and fully capitulated, such as his erstwhile support for free trade. His refusal to terminate the leadership roles of bad actors in his caucus like Devin Nunes, even as they abused committee chairmanships to undermine congressional investigations into Trump's ties to Russia, reflect that much worse on his ability to be a meaningful check on the White House.

"Here's where Ryan and I separated," said Jolly. "When Donald Trump got the nomination ... every Republican candidate was expected to say, 'We support Donald Trump.' Paul Ryan and I, on exactly the same day, said comments that were uncoordinated, where we both said, 'I'm not there yet.' I stuck with that. Paul Ryan did not. And at some point, this is a reflection of somebody's own integrity, their personal mettle, their own conviction. He was willing to satisfy the politics of convenience."

"And I'll tell you this," he added. "Legacies will be remembered for people who stuck on principle and didn't fail in the face of adversity. He's failed in the face of adversity."

Jolly offered a harsh sendoff for Paul Ryan as his political career draws to a close. In his reckoning, Ryan had a true chance to put country over party but instead took the path of least resistance. As far as Jolly is concerned, if Ryan did manage to avert any "tragedies," the one that befell his career was not one of them.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.