Thursday, December 08, 2016

The Silence and Moral Bankruptcy of Paul Ryan

Yes, Donald Trump and his Cabinet nominees to date are very frightening individuals. Never in my life time with the possible exception of Richard Nixon have such delusional and/or extreme individuals been about to take power in America.  I remain convinced that the results will be disastrous for many citizens, including the angry white cretins who voted for Trump and the GOP to protect their white privilege without realizing they were cutting their own economic throats.  But just as scary, in my view, is Paul Ryan who has cultivated a reputation with a press corps that is just as vapid and easily fooled as Trump's angry white voters.  The man often wears his Catholicism on his sleeve, yet other than his opposition to abortion and gay rights, Ryan's goals and policies are diametrically opposed to the Catholic Church's social gospel.  He wants to take away health care coverage for millions, he wants to gut Medicare into an inadequate voucher program, he wants to gut Social Security, and he's in bed with Christofascist extremists many of whom are anti-Catholic.  Yet the idiots in the media still project an image of Ryan as principled and thoughtful.  Compatred to what?  One of Hitler's henchmen?  A column in the New York Times rightly takes Ryan to task.  Here are excerpts:
Paul Ryan has long been cast as Congress’s Boy Scout: earnest, honest and brimming with the best intentions, whether you agree with his proposals or not.
Donald Trump is putting an ugly end to that.
Or, rather, Ryan himself is, with his example of utter submission to Trump. Other Republicans are looking to the speaker of the House for guidance on when to confront the president-elect and when to let his craziness go unchecked. And Ryan is charting the wrong course.
I’m referring to his recent “60 Minutes” interview, the apotheosis of all of his tongue biting and conscience snuffing to date. In particular I mean the part when he was asked about Trump’s reckless — and wholly unsubstantiated — tweet that millions of Americans had voted illegally for Hillary Clinton.
“I’m not really focused on these things,” Ryan said, all too blithely. Then: “I have no knowledge of such things. It doesn’t matter to me.”
Such things? Was he at a tea in the Cotswolds, discussing the pesky upkeep of the carriage house?
Doesn’t matter? No, I guess a president-elect’s effort to undermine Americans’ confidence in our political system — and, beyond that, his attachment to conspiracy theories — aren’t pressing concerns. My bad for assuming otherwise.
Ryan’s answer was marginally better than the one given on the ABC News show “This Week” by Mike Pence, who described Trump’s tweets as “refreshing.” An adjective’s connotations can change from era to era as a language evolves, but I still associate “refreshing” with lemonade and dips in the sea, not wild accusations of voter fraud.
Pence, of course, is Trump’s designated sycophant. That’s practically written into a vice president’s job description. Ryan has no similar duty, just a growing willingness to part ways with principle.
But they can’t afford to stay mum when Trump, merely to stroke his own ego and assert his potency, tells a lie about election results, calling Clinton’s advantage in the popular vote a sham. Certainly Ryan can’t, because he’s a role model and because this lie epitomizes Trump’s demagogic tendencies and legitimizes fake news, the dark consequences of which are becoming ever clearer.
The disregard for truth — and indulgence of fantasy — among people at the pinnacle of power right now is chilling. Beyond Trump there’s Michael Flynn, his nominee for national security adviser, who has tweeted pure bunk about Clinton’s ties to pedophilia and money laundering.
On the subject of Trump, Ryan has spoken out of so many sides of his mouth that it’s less an oval than an octagon at this point. Last spring he even affirmed his endorsement of Trump while calling him out for racism. Behold leadership at its most gelatinous.
Trump is giving a green light to kooks and the finger to the dignity that Americans rightly expect of a president and that Ryan should demand of him.
Ryan is sacrificing too much for too little, and it’s time he rummaged through his wobbly endoskeleton and made fresh acquaintance with his spine. 

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