I was waiting in the modest airport in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic with my family finishing up a wonderful new book on Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks and peeling pieces of my burnt skin from my wrist when I saw Paul Ryan appear on CNN and say, after weeks of vehemently denying credible news reports, that he is no longer seeking re-election for the United States Congress. He’s handing in his speakership. For all intents and purposes, with the heat rising to dangerous levels in and around his party and its president, he is getting the fuck out of Dodge.
With the entire federal government in his party’s hands, the third most powerful figure in the United States government is quitting. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has seen the writing on the wall and it is not good. Internal Republican polling strongly indicates there is a political Blue Tsunami coming in six months and he wants no part of it.
Like athletes who take the millions to play in a new city and then have the balls to tell you it’s because of their family, Ryan is wheeling out the usual tropes. Anti-Trump Republicans and conservative columnists and the predictable wave of liberal analysis have wrongly interpreted this slipping out the back door as a clear sign of Ryan’s exhaustion of working for and a general disgust in the behavior of our game show president. That, of course, is utter nonsense. There are more pictures of Paul Ryan smiling while standing or sitting or signing bills with Donald Trump aka David Dennison (Warning: That ain’t ever getting old around here) than there is of Melania Trump, who looks in every White House photo op like she’s been kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army.
You see, when it suited his agenda (and I am seriously not sure what the hell that is anymore), Ryan ate Donald Trump’s shit, carried his water and spent more press conferences playfully dodging questions about his angry, off-the-hinge tweets. Even when he was uncomfortable with the president of the United States providing cover for marauding Nazi marchers, one of which murdered a protester with his car, there was something of an embrace of Trump.
Ryan told CNN their “differences” were merely “style” and geographic origins, that only lunatics are from New York City and not sweet, homey, down-to-earth Wisconsin, where paying porn stars to sleep with you and then shut-up and personal lawyers being raided by the FBI is unfamiliar cosmopolitan shenanigans. He was apparently the one person who missed the Netflix Making of a Murderer series, which makes his home state appear as some backwater third-world desert of kill-crazed hicks, corrupt police and a government asleep at the wheel.
Despite his purported Ayn Randian roots, his long-rumored ideological fiscally conservative bent and the rest of what he tells girls and Wall Street hucksters at DC cocktail parties, Ryan sold his soul to Trumpism, with its empty promises, bloated deficits, and anti-trade, barely coherent nationalistic claptrap. Ryan is just another hack like Gerald Ford, who wanted everyone on his golf outings to think he wasn’t ruined by the pardoning of Nixon and some far-fetched palaver about “healing the nation” when he took one for the party and then went out and lost the presidency to a peanut farmer.
What Ryan is most of all is a quitter and he is running from this rat-infested sinking vessel as fast as you can imagine, despite there being zero chance, even in a year where most Republicans would be lucky to not be tarred and feathered in town squares, to be re-elected. According to the numbers’ geeks over at Five Thirty-Eight, Wisconsin’s 1st district, or what Ryan has been representing now since 2011, is 11.3 percentage points more Republican than the nation as a whole. Even in the current and climbing seven-to-ten-point Democratic advantage nationally, Ryan, with nearly $10 million in his coffers, would retain his seat, with the ignominious chore of handing the gavel back over to Nancy Pelosi, if she survives a fervent progressive insurrection, of course. But Ryan has endured worse. He ran on the doomed Mitt Romney ticket and once even tried to fake like he didn’t want to endorse Trump over moral reasons, which he soon found out was not his thing. Fuck morals. We got tax cuts to get to.
And all of that is fine. I expect politicians to smear their rhetoric with hard-ons for morality and then troll teenage interns or turn the EPA into a private resort for friends and family, but Ryan wants you to think otherwise. He plays the whole this-and-that game as well as any of them. And this way leads to the exit, before he is fully blamed for kowtowing to and enabling what appears to be on a daily basis some kind of ridiculous parody of a frat house administration being run by a sloppy con artist and a bunch of people profiting off the idea of governance.
Thirty-eight House Republicans, including Ryan, have decided to not run for re-election this year, and twenty-five of them are through with the whole concept of politics as a viable vocation for people who thought Jesus had something to do with the founding of this nation built on free labor and land grabs. That is the greatest mass exodus in civic duty since World War II, according to the Brookings Institution. That is 75 years of politicians sucking it up against all odds being bested by a year in which just saying you belong to this party is as if you are pleased to be taking a dump on all that is decent and upstanding in the national fabric.
Paul Ryan thinks by quitting he gets to escape all that. And sure, I guess, he does. Pretty soon his corporate benefactors, whom he handed the candy store with that monstrous “tax reform” boondoggle last year, will pay him Clinton money to laugh about how silly this Trump idiot is, followed by a Comey-styled, “Can you believe Trump said this about that?” book.
Do yourself no favors and “like” this idiot at www.facebook.com/jc.author or, if you dare, follow on Twitter (@FearNoArt) and Instagram (@jamescampion)
James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of “Deep Tank Jersey”, “Fear No Art”, “Trailing Jesus”, “Midnight For Cinderella” and “Y”. “Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon”
And coming in June, 2018; “Accidently Like a Martyr – The Tortured Art of Warren Zevon”