How Trump swallowed the GOP whole and exposed Paul Ryan's craven moral failings

How Trump swallowed the GOP whole and exposed Paul Ryan's craven moral failings
Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead
Election '16

There's another book coming about the ascendancy of Donald Trump to the White House, penned by Politico chief political correspondent Tim Alberta. The Washington Post got an advance copy of American Carnage and highlights the parts that demonstrate just how irredeemable the Republican Party is.

There's former Republican National Committee aide Madeleine Westerhout, who "broke down crying, 'inconsolable' over Trump winning the election." That was election night, 2016. Now? "To the amusement of her RNC peers, she was later chosen as the president’s executive assistant and now sits just outside the Oval Office," Alberta writes. "Westerhout now tells others she would do almost anything for Trump, and he calls her 'my beautiful beauty.'" There's plenty more in the article about all the pre-election "never-Trumpers" who rolled over for the guy once he won: Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. But three stand out: Mike Pence, Mick Mulvaney, and Paul Ryan.

Alberta writes that Karen "Mother" Pence didn't want to appear in public with her husband after the infamous "grab 'em by the pussy" tape was released, and that Pence fundamentally disagreed with Trump on most key issues. And now his "oldest friends" joke about whether or not Trump is blackmailing him. According to the Post, Alberta writes in the book that "Pence's talent for bootlicking" has earned him the nickname "the Bobblehead" from fellow Republicans because he is so obsequious, nodding along to everything Trump says in meetings. With him, Pence brought the whole evangelical right, or "Those fucking evangelicals," as Trump called them in a meeting with Republican lawmakers, according to Alberta. In a subsequent meeting with evangelicals, he reportedly told them, "I owe so much to [Christianity] in so many ways […] because the Evangelical vote was mostly gotten by me." Attendees "walked out of the room in a daze," but they still love them some Trump.

Then there's Mulvaney. Before Trump's inauguration, when he was still a lowly House maniac, he told Alberta that "We’re not going to let Donald Trump dismantle the Bill of Rights," and that they'd fight Trump trying to overreach just like they did President Obama. "When we do it against a Republican president, maybe people will see it was a principled objection in the first place," he said. Then he got the nod as Office of Management and Budget director, with the side job of taking over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and eventually the other side job as acting White House chief of staff—a job in which he tells people he "lets Trump be Trump." Incidentally, his salary is tens of thousands more than it would be as permanent White House chief of staff because he's still drawing pay for the job he's on paper as doing at OMB. There's some principle for you.

Taking the cake, however, is Paul Ryan.

The former House speaker fully admits that he used retirement in 2018 as an "escape hatch" from Trump because he couldn't face having to deal with him for another two years. Now he tells Alberta, "We've gotten so numbed by it all. […] Not in government, but where we live our lives, we have a responsibility to try and rebuild. Don't call a woman a 'horse face.' Don't cheat on your wife. Don't cheat on anything. Be a good person. Set a good example." Says the guy who refused to stand up to Trump for the two years in which he had the ultimate power to do so. Like in the fight over the 2018 spending bill that didn't include border wall funding. Trump apparently reamed Ryan over it in person, but then "said he would sign it if Ryan were to give him time to build suspense on Twitter." Not only did Ryan agree to that,  but he "publicly sang the president's praises after the meeting."

The hypocrisy is one thing, a thing that so defines the Republican Party that it's hardly worth talking about anymore. It's the utter blindness that the likes of Pence and Ryan have for their own moral failures that's galling. It's the fact that Ryan, who presumably still sees a future for himself in national politics, and plenty of other Republicans willing to criticize Trump absolutely refuse to take responsibility for having created him in the first place, much less for rolling over entirely for him now. For this alone, Paul Ryan should be condemned to washing already-washed pots and pans for eternity.

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