Never Trumper Charlie Sykes recently did a podcast interview with Paul Ryan. I’d rather jam chopsticks into my eardrums than listen to the whole thing, but a transcript excerpt posted at The Bulwark site was interesting in that it underscored what a dumb, pants-pissing ostrich Ryan still is.
(DIGRESSION: I know that, like valued commenter Baud, ostriches don’t wear pants, and the thing about ostriches burying their heads in the sand to avoid danger is bullshit. What they allegedly do to ward off danger when unable to fight or flee is freeze in place in hopes that the danger will pass, which is what Ryan has been doing since 2015. So yeah, I’ll stick with the ostrich metaphor, despite the unfairness to ostriches.)
In 2018, Ryan listed all sorts of excuses for bailing from Congress as speaker, including that he wanted to spend more time with his kids, disgust with “identity politics” and a desire to “continue his work on curing poverty” (granny starver’s self-identified hobby, for real).
But observers could be forgiven for believing that Ryan left because he was fed up with being bedeviled by Trump and the Trump crazies in the House GOP caucus. Sounds more plausible than “curing poverty,” anyway. So, after helping to push the massive tax cut for the wealthy over the finish line, Ryan called it quits after serially failing to stand up to his tormenters.
As awful as Ryan is, he was perceptive enough to recognize the existential threat Trump was, not only to the country, but more importantly, in Ryan’s view, to the GOP and conservative movement Ryan aspired to lead. In his extremely defensive interview with Sykes, Ryan explained that his impulse to protect that movement was why he accepted a seat on the Fox News board. He understands the network is a GOP mouthpiece and wanted to have a role in shaping its future.
Ryan was deposed by Dominion attorneys in the latest lawsuit filing, and he told them he advised Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch to stop allowing TV hosts to broadcast lies, quit fomenting January 6 conspiracy theories and generally break with the Trump bullshit circus. But Fox News was afraid of pissing off their pro-Trump audience, so they disregarded Ryan’s counsel.
In other words, another GOP institution that thought it could control Trump and the Trump crazies to get what it wants (tax cuts, deregulation and a FedSoc-captured judiciary) was taken over and hollowed out by Trump and the Trump crazies. Even Rupert “Logan Roy” Murdoch couldn’t stop Donald “Everglades Python” Trump from unhinging his jaw and swallowing the GOP propaganda network whole. That may prove to be a multibillion-dollar failure on Murdoch’s part.
What never seems to have occurred to Ryan (or Murdoch, or McConnell, et al.) is that if a criminal and his deranged sycophants have taken over your party/network and are destroying your brand, you can’t just freeze like a frightened ostrich and hope the monsters go away. You have to stop them yourself. No one else is going to do it for you — you have to take action, or things will get worse.
Clueless, cowardly dweebs like Ryan are still frozen seven years later. And it looks like they’ll keep right on lying on the ground, in a puddle of their own urine, until the monster finally gets around to eating them.
Some Democrats are exquisitely sensitive to any criticism of the party and its leaders, and I fully get why — when criticism is taken to an extreme, you can undermine candidates and end up with a fake cowpoke president who invades the wrong country after a terrorist attack or get stuck with a malignant, corrupt narcissist who lies nonstop and attempts to blow up the republic on his way out the door. That’s bad!
But the upside of our self-criticism tendency is that we sometimes identify and address real problems instead of ignoring them like an Ryanostrich. As maddening and catastrophic as it can sometimes be, I’d much rather be us than them because we can improve.