House Speaker Paul Ryan said yesterday that he wasn’t ready to support Donald Trump, at least not yet. He didn’t say he would never support Trump, and in fact he said that he hoped eventually that he would support Trump. This has caused some Trump supporters to absolutely freak out about Paul Ryan, and to actually suggest that he should be removed as Speaker of the House.
Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich in particular have been in the highest possible dudgeon over Ryan’s insubordination today.
First of all, basic civics lesson: Congress is a co-equal branch of government and selects its own leadership. The House of Representatives isn’t an apparatus (even an unofficial one) of the Presidential nominee like the RNC is. If Ryan’s colleagues are bothered by his comments – and none have indicated that they are – then they can take it up with him.
More importantly, this exact attitude is exactly what got us in this mess. The precise reason that started the tailspin of frustration that brought us to this point is that Denny Hastert, Tom Delay, Bill Frist and company never, ever said no to George W. Bush.
Bush wants a massive expansion of Medicare? We have to give it to him; he’s a president from our party. Bush wants to vastly increase Federal control over education? We have to give it to him; he’s a president from our party. Bush wants massive Federal budgetary increases? We have to give it to him; he’s a president from our party.
Over and over again during Bush’s tenure, conservatives (including Hannity) groused that Congress was completely ineffective in acting as a check against Bush’s excesses. Every reasonable person and conservative commentator lamented this fact.
Now here we are, and Donald Trump isn’t even President yet. He’s not even the official nominee yet. And all Ryan has said is that he wants to wait and see if Trump can learn to act like a reasonable person instead of a crazy cat lady. And people like Hannity and Gingrich are ALREADY screaming “Off with his head!”
That’s exactly the mentality that got us in this mess in the first place.
Look, it isn’t just that the nominee is Trump, and Paul Ryan is clearly right that Trump isn’t worthy of support; I would be just as adamant if Cruz were the presumptive nominee right now. A Republican Speaker of the House must be willing to tell the President “No, I don’t support what you’re proposing” when necessary. If he becomes another rubber stamp, then we’re headed for the same mess we found ourselves in during the fall of 2006.
And given all the things Trump has already promised to do, the expansion of government will be orders of magnitude worse than what we saw under George W. Bush.
I don’t know if Ryan frankly has it in him to hold the line on spending, but I’m encouraged at a Republican Speaker standing up for the prerogative of Congress as a coequal branch, even against a President of his own party (if we posit a hypothetical fantasy world in which Trump might actually win).