Ever since Speaker Ryan declined to appear with Donald Trump after the Billy Bush tape became public, Trump has been attacking Ryan. His latest claim is that Ryan has backed away from Trump in order to facilitate a 2020 presidential bid.
The claim is absurd. Ryan backed Trump for months when it looked like Trump might win. Now that it’s almost certain Trump won’t win, Ryan doesn’t improve his presidential prospects by backing away from the Republican nominee. Trump supporters will hold this against Ryan; hard-core NeverTrumpers will remain angry at Ryan for his initial support of the tycoon.
It’s unseemly for the Republican presidential nominee and the Republican Speaker of the House to be feuding just weeks before the election. But I’m glad they are.
If Trump loses but the GOP maintains control of the House — a highly likely scenario — Speaker Ryan will be in a position to make deals with President Hillary Clinton. History suggests that he will want to make them.
Recall the budget deal he struck with Patty Murray in 2013. Recall that Ryan has reached out to Democrats for “infrastructure” talks. Recall that Ryan favors amnesty-style immigration reform. Recall that he favors more lenient federal sentencing for felons. Recall his chumminess with left-wing Rep. Luis Gutierrez.
He either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care that “obstructionism” is what’s preventing, or at least slowing, the left’s takeover of America. He either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care that nothing can get done with Democrats that doesn’t include some of their core left-wing agenda items.
Donald Trump’s denunciation of Ryan won’t alter the Speaker’s ambitions. But if he works with Clinton in meaningful ways, he will reinforce Trump’s critique of him and alienate not just the hard-core Trumpers but also hard-core conservatives. If the 2016 GOP primaries are indicative, that’s most of the Republican Party.
And speaking of the 2016 primaries, perhaps Ryan will put two and two together and realize that it was the eagerness of Republicans like him to work with Democrats on amnesty-style immigration reform that fueled the rise of Trump.
In sum, Ryan’s feud with Trump leaves the Speaker with a choice. He can wear the goat horns Trump is trying to place on his head or he can resist his desire to work with Clinton and, with Trump on the sidelines doing whatever, establish himself as the leader of the fight to block Clinton’s leftist agenda.
If Ryan chooses to wear the horns, he won’t be the Republican nominee for president and he may find his position as Speaker in jeopardy.