Thursday night Paul “Skippy” Ryan kicked off the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library’s A Time for Choosing series in Simi Valley, CA. Ryan is not the most riveting of speakers, so I can imagine some had a hard time staying awake.
My first thought is, Why now? As Ryan stated, he has been happily retired (for him and for us) since 2017. When Reagan Foundation Executive Director John Heubusch introduced Ryan as one of the newest members of the Board of Trustees for the Reagan Library, that explained it. Since his “retirement” from politics, Ryan has been a busy little bee on boards. He is also on the Board of Directors for Fox News.
Explains so much.
Just a few months prior, former House Speaker John Boehner trotted out his hackneyed and boozy behind to promote his memoir – and blast President Donald Trump under the guise of unifying the party. This insistence of these Republican retreads on lending their voice to define conservatism for us is getting old. They could be enjoying retirement; instead, they are embarrassing themselves.
Boehner and Ryan did quite a bit to create the situations in our country where a Donald J. Trump was needed. So, they would do better to go gently into that good night and let the Republican Party sort itself out.
However, it is the Republican Establishment that still treats Boehner and Ryan as “standard bearers” of the party. Ryan is even fundraising for the contemptible WY Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Self Important), so we are very much aware of which side Ryan’s bread is buttered. As far as I’m concerned, he just dropped the buttered side into the dirt with this speech.
Ryan started off polishing President Ronald Reagan and his legacy, and then his own Reagan conservative bona fides.
“Your invitation brings me here, only as a lifelong admirer of president Reagan and a sound believer in what he stood for. So, it’s a real privilege to kick off the Reagan Library’s Time for Choosing series.
“I see it as a chance to share a few thoughts about the man, about the cause that defined his career.
“Ronald Reagan had nothing but good influence on the Republican Party in his time. I have a feeling that you’ll agree that we sure could use more of that today.”
This is the first indication of not only Ryan’s lack of knowledge about Reagan and about that time in politics but of how disconnected he is regarding his influence. Reagan was just as much of a disruptor to the status quo of the Republican Party in 1980 as Donald J. Trump was in 2016. No doubt, this line was a not-so-subtle dig against Trump and the MAGA Republicans who style themselves after him.
Ryan defined himself as a “Reagan Conservative,” and Reagan himself is probably flipping in his grave over that. I do not consider myself a Reagan conservative, but I know enough about it to know Ryan is nowhere near that.
Then, Ryan waxed eloquent about his mentor, the late Jack Kemp, who served as a Congressman and U.S. Secretary of Housing under George H.W. Bush. Ryan stepped off the threshold of his introduction and moved into what he felt defined Reagan conservatism and Reagan’s influence in America and throughout the world. He used this segue to prop up some of the House freshmen that he felt represented Reagan conservatism, starting off with Indiana’s Victoria Sparts, a 28-year-old Ukrainian-American who chose to be sworn in before a portrait of Ronald Regan.
“If we’re looking for good signs in the Republican Party, this freshman member of the house, along with others, like Young Kim down in Orange County, Maria Elvira Salazar of Florida, Tony Gonzalez in Texas, they are high on the list.”
Notably absent from his list: Colorado’s Lauren Boebert, Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Florida’s Byron Donalds—all self-described MAGA representatives. Because the MAGA reps learned how to punch and counterpunch from the 45th President, they had some things to say about Ryan and his speech.
Taking advice on party building from Paul Ryan would be like taking advice on how to interact with your in-laws from Meghan Markle.
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) May 28, 2021
Oooh. As the youngins say, Sick Burn.
Then Ryan moved into the meat of his speech:
“Looking for good signs is what we should be doing, even if in 2020 and in 2021, we had a tough and disappointing time for the conservative cause.”
Do tell? There is no acknowledgment that more than a few of Ryan’s cronies, like Mitch McConnell (R-Turtle), former Vice President Mike Pence, and Cheney, were complicit in producing this “disappointing time.”
Ryan then pointed out that it was a good sign how close the Republican Party came to regaining the House. Remarkably, he said this without any acknowledgement that a good number of the candidates were inspired to run by Donald Trump and his America First vision for the country! It was definitely no thanks to Ryan’s leadership, under which we not only lost Republican voters but House seats. Remember 2018? Yeah, we do.
It really is amazing that Paul Ryan, who is the reason the GOP lost the House in 2018, is going to come out today and blame Trump for the problems in the GOP.
Paul, the problem is you and your pal Liz.
— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) May 27, 2021
Ryan moved from the not-so-subtle “He who shall not be named” jabs, into the direct ones.
“Of course, since 2016 we have learned to get used to big and unexpected happening in American politics.
“Even for our good showing in the House, 2020 left Republicans powerless in Washington. Even worse, it was horrifying to see a presidency come to such a dishonorable and disgraceful end.
I wonder if he would use the same words for Vice President Al Gore, who took his efforts to overturn a duly elected president all the way to the Supreme Court? It seems in Paul Ryan’s lexicon, a fight for election integrity (including in his own state of Wisconsin), and legally pursuing means to see this done fall under the headings of “dishonorable” and “disgraceful.” Did we hear a peep from Ryan about that second Shampeachment? Yeah, didn’t think so.
But the Trump presidency ended, Dishonorably and Disgracefully.
“So, once again, we conservatives find ourselves at a crossroads.”
We do? It is clear that sitting on executive boards and hunting and fishing on his Janesville, WI property has disconnected Ryan from reality. The Republican Establishment may be at a crossroads. Conservatives? Not so much.
Then Ryan moved in for the kill shot:
“And here’s the reality that we have to face: If the conservative cause depends on the populist appeal of one personality, or of second-rate imitations, then we’re not going anywhere. Voters looking for Republican leaders want to see independence and mettle. They will not be impressed by the sight of, “YES” men and flatterers flocking to Mar-a-Lago.
“We win majorities by directing our loyalty and respect to voters, and by staying faithful to the conservative principles that unite us.”
Seriously? Disenfranchising and throwing 80 million voters under the bus does not reflect loyalty. Refusing to speak out about this farce of a January 6 Commission, instead attacking Trump and the Americans who duly elected him, is not being faithful to conservative principles. It is being faithful to those donors and sycophants who still think Ryan matters.
Ever the policy wonk, Ryan moved into Biden and the Democrat Party’s policies and made this stunning declaration.
“In 2020, the country wanted a nice guy who would move to the center and depolarize our politics, instead we got a nice guy pursuing an agenda more leftist than any president in my lifetime.”
The fact that he even described Biden as a “nice guy” is proof that he is more serious about his Swamp credentials than he is about standing up for what are Reagan-conservative or conservative principles. Reagan would have found a very elegant way to say it, but he would not have called Biden “nice.”
Go home, Ryan. You’re drunk.
After attacking Trump and America First principles as “not conservative,” Ryan then went on to claim Republican Party accomplishments that happened during Trump’s term! Bit of cognitive dissonance there, Skippy? There is really no way you can disconnect the agenda from the President, especially this President.
“I was lucky enough to be Speaker of the House at that time. And the truth is, Republicans delivered on goals important to conservatives going all the way back to Goldwater and Reagan.”
Ryan talked about being tough on China (Trump), immigration reform (Trump), criminal justice reform (Trump), mitigating human trafficking (Trump), revision of tax code (Trump).
Glancing on the economy, Ryan described,
“Powerful and inclusive economic growth” and “Unemployment at a 50-year low for every demographic.”
All policies and advancement that were accomplished during Trump’s first term.
The idea that Pro-Amnesty Paul Ryan took the security of our border seriously during his time as Speaker is a joke. https://t.co/ca99MNFUDz
— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) May 28, 2021
Did no one vet this speech for Ryan? Or is he really this clueless?
Ryan then threw out this left-handed compliment:
“It was the populism of President Trump in action, tethered to conservative principles.”
I was a mere yougin’ during the Reagan Revolution. I was not yet voting age when he ran for his first term, and I had just turned 18 for his re-election but was still moderate enough not to want to vote for him. However, I still paid attention to what Reagan said, and the response to those words, as well as how they transformed the people and the movement around him. How is this not populism?
In order to make the speech more aspirational (too late), Ryan threw out this backhanded motivator:
“Take the populist energy of the recent years, combine it with the core principles of conservativism and the result will be a coalition even broader and stronger than yesterday’s Republican Party.”
But in the next breath, Ryan contradicted himself, and for the upteenth time, threw Republican voters under the bus. The Lincoln Project has nothing on Paul Ryan grifting under the pretense that he upholds, “conservative principles.”
“So often though, as well, Republican populism is just the natural response to Progressive elitism and the overarching agenda that goes with it.”
What about Republican Elitism as represented by your pal Liz Cheney, for whom you are hosting a fundraiser? And China Mitch McConnell, whose wife’s family is in bed with the CCP?
Ryan also had some amnesia about who was a representative in the House between 1998 to 2019, who held seats on important committees, and who ran as Vice President on the Republican ticket in 2012. Could be he’s been indulging in too much Dipsology, like his friend Boehner.
Ryan wound down with this appalling observation:
“We conservatives have got to be careful not to get caught up in every little cultural battle.”
Newsflash, Ryan: It is because your Republican Party did not get caught up in “little cultural battles” that we now are fighting critical race theory and the transgender agenda that is attempting to destroy our children and the fabric of the country. It was Ryan’s version of the Republican Party who paid lip service to these “cultural battles” then watched Planned Parenthood sell baby body parts, while selling us out to China and Saudi Arabia.
But do go off on getting caught up in cultural battles. You’re such an expert.
The balance of his speech was equally anemic and bromidic, but Ryan did have this last parting shot at Trump and his agenda. He pointed out that the problem with our current MAGA/America First populists is that they had,
“Too much allegiance to one passing political figure, and didn’t remain loyal enough to its principles.”
Look in the mirror, pal.
And Paul Ryan wants to tell Republicans how to be “Republican.”
Well we’ve had enough of ineffective Republican leadership that doesn’t stop the Hate-America left, but just talks about it.
— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) May 28, 2021
If you can stomach it, here’s the speech.