Open Thread: Cravens Cowed by A Revenant

The mainstream GOP goes in fear of the angry, shambling corpse of resentments past, and Paul Ryan is… well, not their leader, but the most visible media figure. Word in the media is that he timed his tepid endorsement of Donald Trump to coincide with Clinton’s big speech yesterday — whether to bigfoot the speech or to take advantage of a distracted media remains a question — but enough people took notice in any case:

Mr. Charles P. Pierce, on the man he calls the “Biggest. Fake. Ever.“…

… Moody and morose, Paul Ryan has stalked the parapets of his own ego ever since it became clear that He, Trump would be the nominee of the Republican party for president of the United States. (It’s helpful to write it out that way a couple of times a day just to make sure you haven’t subconsciously blotted the reality out of your memory.) He invited several of his more prominent acolytes in the elite political press to join him in his lengthy walks along the fogbound ramparts of his carefully cultivated public persona. What is a policy wonk, public intellectual, numbers guru, sympathetic friend of the working poor to do?

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of an outrageous charlatan, and take arms against a sea of playground insults and, by opposing them, end them…

…or you can just take to the pages of The Janesville Gazette and surrender so abjectly that you ought to be hanging on the wall in the game room at Mar-A-Lago…

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Wednesday Evening Open Thread: Another Repub Whiner Winner

Am I a bad person if I hope his kids grow up to deny their relationship to casual acquaintances? (Speaker Ryan? Nah, it’s a very common last name, y’know… “)

Meanwhile, from the grown-up side of the aisle, shot fired:

Apart from the vast difference in political capabilities, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Sunday Evening Open Thread: Could Be Worse…

Lest we fall into the media trap of thinking it’s only us Democrats who must contend with nutballs, narcissists, and fanatical deadenders. Lyin’ Paul Ryan attempts to protect his own 2020 chances while not getting into the short-fingered vulgarian’s cross-hairs…

“When people go to the polls in November, they are not just picking a person … they’re also picking a path,” said Ryan, who spoke repeatedly of unity with the front-runner — while refusing to bet on a Trump victory this fall.

“I think this is a ‘we,’ not just one person,” he added. “I very much believe in a type and style of politics that may not be in vogue today but, I still think, nevertheless, is the right kind of politics.”

It was that core belief, he says, more than any rank political calculation, that led Ryan to say he was “just not ready” to back Trump in a shocker of a CNN interview on May 6. Standing in front of an idyllic waterfall, Ryan said he wanted to see “a standard-bearer that bears our standards” and called on Trump to rein in his worst impulses if he wanted Ryan’s support…

“You should ask him those questions,” said Ryan. “I’m not the person to be giving you the breakdown of Donald Trump. That’s not my job and responsibility.”…

Shorter Ryan: Hey, if Trump wins, I’ll be his biggest cheerleader. And if Trump loses, I’m young enough to wait out a Hillary Clinton presidency…
Apart from more healthful exercise rolling our eyes, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Late Night B-Movie Open Thread: Giant Albino Amphibian vs. Zombie-Eyed Grannie Starver

Jim Newell, at Slate, on “the perfect running mate for Donald Trump”:

… Gingrich, in his trademark way of exuding unsubtlety in the execution of what he believes to be a stealth operation, is angling for the vice presidency even more aggressively than Trump is angling for the presidency. When Gingrich responded to a question about the inexperience of Trump’s foreign policy advisers by instructing Slate’s Isaac Chotiner to read both The Art of the Deal and The Art of the Comeback, such a shameless non sequitur could only be read as that day’s canned talking point in his campaign for the vice presidency. Gingrich was among the earliest bold-name political figures to liaise between Trump and official Republican Washington. Like Chris Christie, Gingrich may have realized that taking the plunge early with the party’s incoming standard-bearer was the best way to position himself for a sweet gig down the road—and perhaps persuade Trump to help retire lingering campaign debt.

Trump basks in what normals might consider uncomfortable levels of flattery, and so, by several accounts—including Trump’s own mouth—Gingrich has successfully implanted himself on his new master’s veep shortlist. Though Gingrich has said Trump would need “psychiatric help” if the presumptive nominee were to select him as his running mate, he definitely will not rule himself out. The former speaker of the House is now a ubiquitous force in the Trump effort, selling him in the media and advising him on policy and politics…

For all of his put-on suck-uppery, Gingrich is one of the few people on Earth who can understand what it’s like to be in Trump’s shoes. Gingrich, over a more gradual period of time and climaxing in the 1994 elections, blew up an existing political era—that of the Democrats’ supposedly permanent House majority. He knows what it is to have the world looking in horror at you for shattering their reality, much as they’re looking at Trump now. He can brief Trump about how to weather this and, should Gingrich cave to the sort of introspection that neither he nor his tutee are known for but which may exist somewhere deep inside, teach him from his own mistakes….

I’m old enough to remember The Rain Reign of Speaker Newt, and this is good news for Democrats. The Newt’s thin skin and enormous ego are indeed very reminiscent of a certain short-fingered vulgarian, and Gingrich’s inability to keep his eye on the prize (or his pecker in his pants) were largely responsible for the implosion of the GOP’s ‘new permanent majority’ twenty years ago. Putting him under the lights with Deadbeat Donald over the next five months would mean taking bets on which of the two would throw a total pants-soiling hissy-fit first… and whether it would be directed at the other half of the ticket. Read more

Lyin’ Paul Ryan Has A Big Public Sad

… and the NYTimes wants us to know about his noble stand for True Conservative Principles. Per the article:

Although party leaders furiously brokered a meeting between the two men at the Capitol next Thursday, it is likely that only substantial changes in Mr. Trump’s language and tenor, not just minor calibrations on policy positions, will be needed to bring Mr. Ryan to his camp.

Mr. Ryan has become increasingly depressed about the tone of the race within the Republican Party, several people who have talked to him in recent weeks said. He could not bring himself to give even nominal support to Mr. Trump, despite pressure from more conservative House Republicans, after the candidate disparaged various ethnic groups and accused Senator Ted Cruz’s father of conspiring with Lee Harvey Oswald, among other inflammatory comments. Those remarks determined Mr. Ryan’s course far more than the considerable differences on policy between the men.

Mr. Ryan’s stance may lead to the remarkable scenario of a convention chairman presiding over the nomination of a man he does not support, but it basically comes down to three things.

First, and most important: he can do it. Unlike former Speaker John A. Boehner, who had to fight to cling to his gavel almost from the moment he took it in 2011, Mr. Ryan was drafted into his job by the majority of his conference. And unlike Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, who says he supports Mr. Trump, Mr. Ryan is largely impervious to criticism from the right. Agree or disagree with Mr. Ryan, at this point his members need him more than he needs them, at least to prevent unmitigated chaos in their ranks.

It is notable that House conservatives often derided Mr. Boehner for not “sticking to conservative principles” in negotiating with Democrats on legislation, but now are chafing that Mr. Ryan, whose conservative principles have in many ways been rejected by Mr. Trump, is not getting behind the presumptive nominee…

Second, Mr. Ryan sees the value in protecting Republican House members up for re-election in swing districts where Mr. Trump may well be a drag on the rest of the ticket…

The third reason is that nothing Mr. Ryan has said compels him to change his current course as speaker, which is largely focused on developing an alternative Republican policy agenda and shoring up vulnerable members with money and help campaigning. He plans to develop that agenda with House members, even if election politics may well prevent any of it from becoming actual legislation.

This is perhaps the weakest reason for withholding support from Mr. Trump, since without a Republican in the White House, there will probably be no Ryan agenda. But for Mr. Ryan, Mr. Trump’s conduct appears to loom larger than the speaker’s policy dreams. So even if the candidate shows up at the Capitol next week and says “I fully support this agenda,” it would almost certainly not be enough, Ryan aides say….

The Washington Post adds:

Asked by CNN anchor Jake Tapper whether he backs Trump, Ryan responded: “I’m just not ready to do that at this point. I’m not there right now. And I hope to, though, and I want to. But I think what is required is that we unify the party. And I think the bulk of the burden on unifying the party will have to come from our presumptive nominee.”

“This is the party of Lincoln, of Reagan, of Jack Kemp. And we don’t always nominate a Lincoln and a Reagan every four years, but we hope that our nominee aspires to be Lincoln- and Reagan-esque,” Ryan said, adding that he hopes the candidate “advances the principles of our party and appeals to a wide, vast majority of Americans.”…

Translated from the Punditese (Punditease?); Paul Ryan, whose theatrical reluctance to ‘compromise his principles’ allowed him to crawfish backwards into his current position as The Second Most Important Republican Officeholder, finds Deadbeat Donald Trump’s brutish campaigning as distasteful as does the NYTimes. Since nobody who might want the Speakership is capable of taking it away from him, Ryan is free to stand upon his principles — mainly his principle that nothing is more important than ensuring Paul Ryan’s bright future — and spend the next six months publicly deploring the tone of the presidential race, while quietly ratfvcking downballot races for whichever minor Republicans the big money donors prefer.

When Trump self-destructs, before or after November, Ryan will be happy to point out for the cameras all the many ways in which it was not his fault, because he has principles. And the Media Village Idiots — led by Jake Tapper — will fulsomely proclaim him the Only Honest Politician in Washington (so unlike that vile harpy Hillary Clinton, who will be anointed 110% responsible for Trump, for reasons).

Fads in GOP leadership will come and go, but Paul Ryan will always be Vicar of Bray.

Friday Morning Open Thread: Simply Irresistable

From the Politico article:

Not to worry, says Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer: There’s no crisis in the GOP.

Speaking after Paul Ryan stunned the political world on Thursday by saying he wasn’t ready to back Donald Trump — and Trump shot back that he wouldn’t support Ryan’s agenda — Spicer said Republicans have “plenty of time” to unify their party, as many were anticipating the fight for the nomination to last longer.

Ryan and Trump will meet sometime next week, he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer…. When Blitzer asked which of the two men would change, Spicer said: “It’s not a question about changing. It’s a question about understanding.”

Blitzer asked if Trump would have to drop his proposals to ban Muslims from entering the country and deport millions of undocumented immigrants.

“That’s not what the speaker said. And I don’t think you’re going to have a question of ‘You give up this.’ It’s not a question of compromising. It’s a question of understanding,” Spicer reiterated.

Blitzer also asked who Republicans should consider the leader of their party: Ryan or Trump.

“It’s not an ‘either or,'” Spicer said, though Trump is “the largest voice out there.”

When asked about George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain skipping the GOP convention, Spicer said: “At the end of the day, this is what happens.”

Good eye, Ms. Haberman.

Apart from schadenfreude (so much more healthful than Reince Priebus’ Baileys-over-cereal breakfast), what’s on the agenda as we wrap up another nutballs-to-the-walls week?

Open Thread: Paul Ryan Is Not Running for President… Just Yet

The Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver is not going away. Jim Newell, at Slate — “Paul Ryan Still Refuses to Be President. But Who’s Asking?”

… Though the industry of pundit lapdogs who fawn over Ryan as the sexiest thing in right-of-center wonkery since the Laffer curve will buy his noble self-effacement about how it would simply be improper to accept the job without having run, there’s certainly another factor that suggests he really means it: Unlike the speaker’s election, he believes he would lose the presidential election.

It is very difficult for members of Ryan’s fan club to understand that outside of elite Republican donor circles, the pages of Beltway publications, and the green rooms of Sunday morning chat shows, Ryan is not that popular of a politician. Before Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, Ryan—as the author of budgets that slashed entitlements and discretionary spending programs—was the poster boy for Democratic opposition to the obstructionist right. This was just a few years ago…

Ryan is no more popular with Democrats now, of course, but he’s also not as popular with the Republican base now that he’s a member of the supposedly do-nothing, amnesty-loving congressional leadership. Those brewing negative feelings among the base would almost certainly explode if Ryan, having competed in no primaries, were to swoop in at the convention and “steal” the nomination from either Trump or Cruz. Ryan may not be the epitome of serious policy thinking that his elite adorers imagine him to be—he’s basically the personification of elite Republican donors’ interests—but he does have a considerably sounder political mind than they do, and that’s why he wants nothing to do with this hot mess.

Jon Chait, in NYMag, on “Paul Ryan’s Magical-Realism Campaign”:

Paul Ryan’s shadow campaign for the presidency is well under way, and the visible portion peeking above the surface — message videos and gravitas-conferring overseas trips — conceals a larger whisper campaign submerged beneath the surface. If Donald Trump fails to win a majority of pledged delegates on the first ballot, and if Ted Cruz fails to organize a majority on a subsequent ballot, a disorderly and panicked party would almost automatically turn to its recognized leader as the candidate. Alternatively, should either Trump or Cruz win the nomination, Republicans running down-ballot will need a less toxic brand. In which case, Ryan will assume his role as de facto party leader, supplying a friendlier-sounding message for Republicans in blue and purple states…

Chait points at the NYTimes‘ centrist mooning over Ryan’s “Mirage Candidacy”

… Mr. Ryan is creating a personality and policy alternative to run alongside the presidential effort — one that provides a foundation to rebuild if Republicans splinter and lose in the fall. “He is running a parallel policy campaign,” said Senator Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina.

He is shaping an agenda that he plans to roll out right before the convention, a supplement of sorts to the official party platform. He gives regular speeches on politics and policy — particularly on poverty and economic issues — then backs them up in the news media.
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