Aug 07, 2016 4:59 PM GMT
http://www.newsweek.com/trump-bullying-exposes-paul-ryan-shallowness-487367American politics has often been compared to life in high school. The pettiness, the striving for popularity, the nursing of grudges (somehow combined with short memories—"so five minutes ago"), the betrayals and new alliances, the lack of substance.
But most of all, the insecurities. Oh, the insecurities.
And then there is Paul Ryan, the career politician who has been the speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States since late last year. He leads his majority caucus in "the people's house."
If the president and vice president were to die or become incapacitated, he would be elevated to the presidency. But his insecure basis for being taken seriously has lately been fully exposed, and his reputation as that rarest of high school types—the smart, cool kid—is crumbling.
Ryan is the kid who never quite got out of that high school pose. He rose to fame on an unsupportable claim to being a serious thinker, but in fact he had merely figured out how to play the popularity game as a sincere-looking con man. And now, he is the weakling who is being bullied by the loud rich kid who is an even bigger con man than he is....
...Ryan, having ridden a false story of ideological brilliance to the top of his party, now is forced to bear the humiliation of being revealed to be no better than a partisan hack, and a weak one at that.
For example, Ryan was forced into an awkward position at his party's (really Trump's) national convention last month. As one article put it, Ryan "delivered an awkward speech that was jammed between saccharine testimonies from former soap actors, minor sports figures and a woman who runs Mr. Trump’s winery." What a come-down for a former teacher's pet...
...At the Trump convention, Ryan went back to his "change of tone" meme: "We should all kind of chill, calm down and change our tone going forward." As if tone is the problem! But Ryan has simultaneously been trying to save his tattered reputation with snarky comments.
When he was asked whether his manically anti-spending House colleagues would appropriate money to build Trump's wall, for example, Ryan reportedly smiled and said: "Mexico is going to pay for it, remember?" Laughs all around...
...All of which merely made it inevitable that Trump would continue to inflict wet willies and wedgies on the Goody Two-shoes Ryan, loudly refusing to endorse Ryan's own re-election to his House seat and twisting the knife by using Ryan's words against him: "I'm not quite there yet." By the end of the week, apparently after some interventions by the Republican National Committee chairman and others, Trump delivered a scripted endorsement of Ryan notable for its lack of enthusiasm.
But the damage was done to Ryan, because Trump obviously understood that Ryan's pretense earlier in the summer to withhold his endorsement until Trump promised to be a good Republican was laughable. It only made Ryan look more ridiculous when he soon capitulated, having then to explain how his doubts about Trump had been allayed even as Trump's behavior had become more and more unhinged (and un-conservative).
The conservative intelligentsia has begun to point to Ryan's lack of seriousness as well....
...Ultimately, what brought down the high-school overachiever was a failed attempt to please everyone. He wanted to say to the teachers and the rest of the kids in school, "Yeah, Big Don really is a bully, and I will stand up to him," and then he politely asked the brute to stop making him look bad. To Ryan's evident surprise, the bully looked back at him and said, "Make me!"
Ryan then succeeded in getting the assistant principal and some of Big Don's buddies, who appreciate the usefulness of Ryan's unctuous style, to get the bully to relent, at least for now. And Ryan went back to trying to tell everyone that this year's Homecoming Dance is going to be better than ever.