It’s easy to see why policy experts who value sober reasoning, conventionality and actually knowing things are terrified of Donald Trump, who doesn’t seem to even grasp the basics of, say, the Iran Deal that he continually bashes like it’s a woman who slightly insulted him.
What happened to calm, respectable Republicans like good ole, wallpaper sample model Paul Ryan, the world’s elite wonders?
And that’s exactly the question Paul Ryan wants you to ask, which is why he gave a speech last week decrying “the ugliness” in politics.
“Ryan’s speech was aimed at pulling the Republican Party away from Donald Trump’s embrace — though he never actually mentioned Trump by name,” the Washington Post‘s Dan Balz reports in an article that tries to trace the GOP’s current crisis to “a Republican Party at war with itself in ways that have helped cripple the governing process.”
It’s a good attempt to get beyond normal consensus reporting that ultimately ignores Paul Ryan’s own role in exactly the kind of “rip off your nose to oppose Obama” posture the GOP has assumed since the day the president was sworn in.
But you won’t even see a mention of the debt limit crisis of 2011, which took place when the global economy was still reeling from a financial crisis Obama inherited with an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent. Ryan was one of the chief engineers of a strategy that demanded huge immediate spending cuts for programs that help the poor, middle class and elderly but absolutely no tax increases on the rich.
And in exchange they were willing to continue paying down a deficit that had been created almost entirely by George W. Bush’s legacy of two losing wars, massive tax breaks and results a financial meltdown. If the president and Democrats didn’t agree to these demands, the result would be another instant global financial crisis.
The world took them seriously: The stock market crashed and America’s debt rating went down for the first time in world history.
Would Donald Trump ever lead us willing into such a dumb crisis?
Probably not. Not because he isn’t prone to showy destructive bluster, but because most of the voting public still recognizes that he’s the kind of bleating, dangerous fool we should keep out of power.
But the real threat is the sober, calm Paul Ryan, who’s willing to risk your retirement to make sure the rich never pay a dime more in taxes.
And like Donald Trump, he thinks the rich should be paying much less.
[Photo by the great Anne Savage.]