Long Before Trump Took Over The Party, The FlimFlam Man Was Turning The GOP Into The FlimFlam Party

Juan Williams betrays himself with his extreme Beltway perspective by asserting in a Hill OpEd Monday, that "Ryan has squandered his stellar reputation as a smart, conservative visionary" by turning himself into a Trump enabler. Yes, Ryan is a Trump enabler. No, Ryan has never had a stellar reputation as a smart, conservative visionary, except among Beltway imbeciles who bought into the carefully propagated narrative paid for by the corporate money men behind Ryan from when they thought this particular well-spoken empty suit could carry their austerity message. Krugman caught on early and warned everyone. Juan Williams, apparently, wasn't paying attention when Krugman explained what a flam-flam man is. Williams sounds like he just woke up from a decades long sleep to discover that "By excusing President Trump’s bad behavior, [Ryan] has made it clear his only priorities are that Trump put conservatives on the Supreme Court and sign tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefit the rich and corporations." It's been over a decade that that was clear to everyone Outside the Beltway who pays even a little attention. But that wasn't the end of Williams waking up saga:

And what happened to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)?

McConnell once took pride in defying Trump by having his Republican majority pass a law last year to punish Russia by imposing sanctions on countries buying military equipment from that nation. The penalties were intended to penalize Russia for interfering in the 2016 election and stop its ongoing meddling in American politics.

But McConnell had little to say when the Trump administration said in late January that it would not impose Congress’s sanctions.

Ryan, Corker and McConnell are leading GOP lights who have ceded their party’s moral center in service to protecting Trump.

Until Trump came along, the party stood for cutting federal spending. It was the pro-immigration party. And after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Republicans backed the secret surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act to protect against spies and terrorists.

Now it is a different party.

Currently, congressional Republicans make excuses for refusing to put checks and balances on the excesses of Trump’s executive branch.

Today’s GOP offers political cover for a man with no history in the party as he denigrates, degrades, and destroys vital American institutions, including law enforcement, the free press and the GOP.

Ryan is the biggest disappointment.

Even if you disagree with him, Ryan has a history of standing up for what he thinks is right.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, a fearless Ryan said Trump, then the leading candidate for the GOP nomination, was wrong to attack an Indiana judge because the judge had Mexican ancestry. Ryan pulled no punches in calling out Trump for making “the textbook definition of a racist statement.”

Now Ryan is looking the other way on far more damaging Trump behavior.

He ignored pleadings from the Justice Department and the FBI to stop the release of a classified memo-- written by Republicans-- that purportedly showed wrongdoing by law enforcement in obtaining a warrant to conduct surveillance of a known friend to Russian intelligence, the Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Ryan said the memo had nothing to do with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign. It was about misconduct by some agents, he said.

But once it was out, Trump tweeted that the memo “totally vindicates” him, even though it said nothing about collusion or obstruction of justice, the focus of Mueller’s work.

When Ryan was asked about this, he mumbled and walked away from reporters.

He had no explanation for allowing his credibility to be used by Trump.

Fox News host Sean Hannity, a Trump supporter, said on the basis of the memo that the Mueller probe ought to be disbanded-- and that charges brought against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn should be dropped.

Ryan opened the door to this nonsense.

“I have been a consistent defender of his good intentions,” conservative columnist Michael Gerson wrote of Ryan recently in the Washington Post. “But after the 17th time saying he ‘knows better,’ it dawns that he may not. By his recent actions, the Speaker has provided political cover for a weakening of the constitutional order. He has been used as a tool while loudly insisting he is not a tool.”

“I believe Ryan to be a good person,” Gerson continued. “But the greatest source of cynicism is not the existence of corrupt people in politics; it is good people who lose their way.”

It has been said that corruption is worst when it happens to the best.

The GOP used to be one of the two great American political parties. It gave the country some of the best statesmen of the last hundred years: Jacob Javits, Everett Dirksen, Edward Brooke, Howard Baker, Bob Dole and John McCain.

But in the age of Trump, there are no more GOP profiles in courage-- only profiles in cowardice.

It’s time for all Republicans to speak out against Trump’s corruption. If not, their party will be forever damaged by the time this Trump horror show fades to black.

Williams forgot to mention Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. I'm not so sure about Dole and McCain, but Jacob Javits served in the Senate from 1957 to 1980 and was succeeded by Al D'Amato, Dirksen from 1951 to 1968, Ed Brooke from 1967 to 1978 and-- if you want to count him-- Howard Baker from 1967 to 1984. Ryan was a physical fitness trainer with the brain of a parrot, an empty cup who was happy to be filled with anything that reminded him of the only two books he apparently read when he was a teenager, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

I wanted to ask a couple of congressmembers who have worked with Ryan. I've noticed that there aren't any Democrats-- excluding perhaps a couple of Blue Dogs from time to time-- who share the Beltway perspective Juan Williams was propagating again. "The fundamental problem with Paul Ryan," Alan Grayson told me this morning, "has nothing to do with his unrequited love for Donald Trump, or his shallow knee-jerk libertarianism. It has to do with core responsibility as Speaker of the House. He has perpetuated Boehner’s policy of keeping the House on lock-down. The House is passing nothing but right-wing 'message' bills, with no Democratic input, that have no chance of passing the Senate.  Say whatever you want about Pelosi, but her Obamacare bill contained more than 100 GOP amendments, and everything was decided on the merits. Ryan, in contrast, is perfectly willing to do absolutely nothing to address the needs of ordinary Americans, or even to fund the government in a timely manner, as the House of Representatives hurtles toward complete irrelevance."

Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan, the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus, has the district right next door to Ryan's. He's been following Ryan before most of us knew who he was. This morning, he told me that "Since being elected to Congress in 1998, Speaker Ryan has spent the last 20 years fighting for the same misguided policies. And while he has long championed legislation for corporations and the wealthy, rather than the American middle class, his rise to the Speaker of the House, coupled with President Trump’s election, has further shown his true colors. Rather than stand up to the President and act as a check on the Executive Branch, Speaker Ryan acts like a junior member of the White House staff. This should come as no surprise, as Speaker Ryan has always failed to take the moral stance on issues, and tax cuts for GOP donors must come at any cost."

Ro Khanna is serving in the House now. He told me that when he was in high school a number of his friends were "drawn to the simple black and white view of the Ayn Rand novels Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Then they went to college and developed some intellectual humility. They realized that Rand is terrible literature. They realized that life is more complex, that human beings aren’t cardboard cutouts, and that worst of all, Rand is a B list thinker who wrote novels based on a cliff notes version of Neitzsche’s philosophy of the Superman." He continued along those lines:

Paul Ryan never had that evolution in thinking. So we have running our nation's economy policy-- let there be no doubt that Trump has outsourced policy to Ryan-- someone who is stuck in a high school intellectual framework.

Is it any wonder that he would push through a tax plan that will exacerbate income inequality when economists know that the biggest impediment to economic growth is inequality as it restricts consumer demand. In a world on automation, where we know that the rich will do well, our biggest task a a country is to have sufficient consumer spending given job loss and displacement. Totally oblivious to facts, totally oblivious to the software revolution we are living in, Ryan has passed policies that are based on an outdated Randian framework and will hurt the economic growth of the U.S. It just doesn’t hurt working people. Rand’s free market absolutism is undermining the very policies that made America an economic superpower-- namely support for a strong middle class that would buy things and fuel growth!

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