President Donald Trump and then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan attending a Friends of Ireland luncheon, March 15, 2018.
What Donald Trump lacks in dignity, class and credibility he makes up for bigly in predictability, at least when the subject is who has said something nice about him and who has said something mean.
I don’t have a degree in character or integrity, but I feel I know them when I see them or, in the case of the current incumbent, I know their absence when I see their absence. Here’s a small example, lifted from a column in this morning’s Washington Post, illustrating the rather obvious point that Trump is a total whore for praise, and enforces a zero tolerance policy for criticism.
The case involves Trump’s 180-degree turn on former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan when excerpts from a new book indicated that Ryan had said what he really believes about Trump, which is that Trump is an ignoramus on matters of policy and how government works.
Ryan was a never-Trumper during the 2016 campaign. But after the 2016 election, Ryan fell in line, stopped saying mean things about Trump, tried not to talk about him any more than he had to and to say nothing interesting when he did. Ryan also found something on which he and Trump agreed (that rich people needed a tax cut) and played a major role in pushing through a big deficit busting tax cut.
You didn’t have to squint too hard to see that Ryan hated having to say nice things about Trump, and he decided to retire from politics after the 2018 midterms.
When Ryan retired, having stopped criticizing Trump and helping him score the tax cut, which turned out to be one of the very few legislative triumphs of the Trumpian era to date, Trump said (from Tim Elfrink’s Post piece) that Ryan was a “truly good man” with a “legacy of achievement that nobody can question.”
But now comes “American Carnage,” by Tim Alberta, a soon-to-be-released insider tell-all book about the Trump presidency. Alberta quotes Ryan to the effect that Trump “didn’t know anything about government” and operates on ill-informed “knee-jerk reactions.”
The presidency is supposedly a fairly difficult, time-consuming job, and, we should to think, a job that promotes wisdom and personal growth in those who few who wield its awesome power.
In Trump? Not so much. He wasted no time dusting off his Twitter gun and revising his position on how truly good and highly accomplished Ryan had been, with what Elfrink called “a three-tweet barrage” that included Trump describing Ryan’s leadership as “atrocious,” labeled him a “lame duck failure,” and suggested that Trump was thrilled when Ryan left Capitol Hill.
Paul Ryan, the failed V.P. candidate & former Speaker of the House, whose record of achievement was atrocious (except during my first two years as President), ultimately became a long running lame duck failure, leaving his Party in the lurch both as a fundraiser & leader……— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2019
….When Mitt chose Paul I told people that’s the end of that Presidential run. He quit Congress because he didn’t know how to Win. They gave me standing O’s in the Great State of Wisconsin, & booed him off the stage. He promised me the Wall, & failed (happening anyway!)……— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2019
….He had the Majority & blew it away with his poor leadership and bad timing. Never knew how to go after the Dems like they go after us. Couldn’t get him out of Congress fast enough!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2019