The speech was House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Heritage Foundation) addressing House interns today to ask them to rise above the rancor and anger that seems to permeate all areas of politics these days. Ryan started by looking back on his days when he was a ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee, and claimed that both sides used to respect each other and try to work out differences.
And we always held ourselves to a higher standard of decorum. We treated each other with respect. We disagreed--often fiercely so--but we disagreed without being disagreeable. I speak of this in the past tense only because I no longer serve here. But it almost sounds like I'm speaking of another time, doesn't it? It sounds like a scene unfamiliar to your generation.(cue several minutes of aspirational Reagan-esque bullcrap).
Looking around at what's taking place in politics today, it is easy to get disheartened. How many of you find yourself just shaking your head at what you see from both sides? You know, I see myself in each of you. I came here as a curious college intern. Trying to get a sense of everything. Trying to figure out where to take my life. I would always ask older, more experienced people: what do you know that you wished you knew when you were my age?
This is my answer to that. Here is what I know now that I want you to know--that you cannot see yourself today. And that is not just a lesson for young minds, but a message for all Americans. Our political discourse--both the kind we see on TV and the kind we experience among each other--did not use to be this bad and it does not have to be this way. Now, a little skepticism is healthy. But when people distrust politics, they come to distrust institutions. They lose faith in their government, and the future too. We can acknowledge this. But we don't have to accept it. And we cannot enable it either.
My dad used to say, if you're not a part of the solution, you're a part of the problem. So I have made it a mission of my Speakership to raise our gaze and aim for a brighter horizon. Instead of talking about what politics is today, I want to talk about what politics can be….
This goal of working together to do the right thing sounds very nice and worth shooting for, but it leaves out an important fact that explains why the “good old days” of comity that Ryan wishes to return to don’t exist today. Paul Ryan has been a central figure behind the D.C. dysfunction he was crying crocodile tears about today.
Never forget that Pau-lie was at the notorious meeting of GOP higher-ups on the night of President Obama’s Inauguration in January 2009, as recounted in Robert Draper’s 2012 book “Do Not Ask the Good That We Do: Inside the US House of Representatives” . Here’s how that conspiracy was recounted in a summary of Draper’s book.
Attending the dinner were House members Eric Cantor, Jeb Hensarling, Pete Hoekstra, Dan Lungren, Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan and Pete Sessions. From the Senate were Tom Coburn, Bob Corker, Jim DeMint, John Ensign and Jon Kyl. Others present were former House Speaker and future – and failed – presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and the Republican strategist Frank Luntz, who organised the dinner and sent out the invitations.
The dinner table was set in a square at Luntz's request so everyone could see one another and talk freely. The session lasted four hours and by the end the sombre mood had lifted: they had conceived a plan. They would take back the House in November 2010, which they did, and use it as a spear to mortally wound Obama in 2011 and take back the Senate and White House in 2012, Draper writes.
"If you act like you're the minority, you're going to stay in the minority," said Keven McCarthy, quoted by Draper. "We've gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign."
The Republicans have done that, bringing Washington to a near standstill several times during Obama's first term over debt and other issues.
That face. So punchable
And Ryan’s actions don’t back it up. Just the other day, Pau-lie was pointing out that 70% of voters think the country is going in the wrong direction, and tried to pin this figure on disapproval of Obama policies. In fact, President Obama is at his highest level of voter approval in 3years, with most polls showing him at or above 50%. At the same time, Congress has an approval rating somewhere between 11 and 15%, and numerous polls in the last month have showed more Americans view Ryan unfavorably than favorably.
So how dare Lyin’ Ryan try to say that American politics should rise above its current mess and the lack of trust that exists between politicians and voters, and then not admit to the significant role he and his GOP buddies in D.C. have had in screwing it up. And in all the poses he struck today did Ryan promise to do anything different to reduce the divisiveness and improve governance in D.C., other than adding a few nice words to go along with his same failed, draconian policies?
Of course, our “liberal media” will refuse to make this obvious observation, because they want to continue to have Paul’s Purty Face grace their presence It is disgustingly shallow, but then again, when have facts and reality ever stopped Purty Pau-lie and our media from pulling it for the last 20 years? We need an army of individuals to call bullshit on all of this, and I’ll give credit to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin for quickly reminding people today about Ryan’s 60 votes to repeal Obamacare and support of extreme anti-abortion laws. Both Paul Ryan and the media must be punished for allowing this wreck of GOP obstruction to continue, because they won’t stop until we rise up and stop it ourselves, both at the ballot box, and by shunning media that won’t tell the truth about how we got to this mess.
PS- Madison's John Nichols at the Nation also is calling out "Ryan's self-serving hypocrisy." John knows a BSer when he spots one, and he rightfully corners Ryan in his cynical attempt to use this speech to accomplish two goals- to make himself look better, and to deflect the public's attention from the disgusting act of today's GOP.
Ryan’s speech was cynically partisan. At one point, he announced, “Looking around at what’s taking place in politics today, it is easy to get disheartened. How many of you find yourself just shaking your head at what you see from both sides?”
Is there anyone who seriously believes that the Democratic competition between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is stirring up an equal level of disenchantment (not to mention fear, loathing and Google searches about relocation to Justin Trudeau’s Canada) as a Republican contest in which Trump and Cruz are exchanging threats about the revealing photos and Goldman Sachs schemes of their respective wives?...
Other Republicans have been far more principled in their approaches. Members of the House and Senate have said they would not vote for Trump as the party’s nominee. Former candidates have endorsed rivals, in hopes of preventing a Trump nomination. Principled leaders have taken tough stands. But not Paul Ryan. He’s just telling Republicans to “raise our gaze and aim for a brighter horizon” where, surprise, Paul Ryan happens to be standing.