On Monday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) took questions from the audience at a Town Hall hosted by CNN in Racine, Wisc.
Throughout the event, he proved highly convincing while pretending to be a human being with actual morals and human feelings. He declared the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was “very emotional for us,” with intention of passing any commonsense gun safety laws. He explained how he talks to his kids about bullies while making excuses for the president who does the bullying. He claimed he wants women to get the healthcare they need while leading the GOP’s efforts to defund it.
But Paul Ryan’s worst moment came after a member of the audience asked, “Are you willing to denounce President Trump’s Charlottesville remarks as forcefully as others?” He then claimed Donald Trump “messed up” with his “many sides” response to the neo-Nazis and white supremacists waging violence and death upon counter-protesters in Charlottesville.
“I do believe that he messed up in his comments on Tuesday when it sounded like a moral equivocation or at the very least moral ambiguity when we need extreme moral clarity.”
Hello? Donald Trump did not “mess up.” He deliberately pandered to the base of angry racists he’s been courting since he announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015. That’s when he infamously declared Mexicans are drug dealers, criminals, and racists, but “some of them are good people.” After his “many sides” remarks, the founder of the Neo-Nazi website, The Daily Stormer triumphantly noted how the president “outright refused to disavow” the white supremacist “alt-right” movement.
The violence in Charlottesville was caused by Neo-Nazis and white supremacists attempting to spread their hateful and racist ideology. pic.twitter.com/eUGliACgwn
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) August 16, 2017
As Vox‘s Dara Lind observed, Donald Trump’s “many sides” remarks validate white terror groups. because he doesn’t condemn white nationalists as strongly as he condemns what he calls Islamic terrorists. “It might seem as if he’s not taking aside,” Lind explains. “But by doing that, he is taking a side. He’s giving succor to the people who engaged in hate in Charlottesville over the weekend and refusing comfort to those who live in fear of what that hate would mean for them.”
Republicans act as though they’re shocked and appalled by the rise of Donald Trump. But really, this is the inevitable result of the “southern strategy” the party has employed since the 1970s. How else can you get white people to vote for a party that routinely screws them without exploiting their inner racists?
This is how Lee Atwater, one of Reagan's advisors and his 1984 campaign deputy director, described his version of the Southern Strategy: pic.twitter.com/QJxg2YtUw9
— Luke Savage (@LukewSavage) August 15, 2017
House Speaker Paul Ryan defends the GOP’s president.
“The president and I spoke on Monday morning,” Paul Ryan assures CNN’s Jake Tapper. “About the need for moral clarity. About the need at this very difficult time in our country to having a morally clear message to absolutely and singularly condemn this repulsive bigotry. He agreed with that and he did that later that day on Monday. And I thought his speech on Monday was pitch-perfect.”
This speech would have been even more pitch-perfect if this sitting president hadn’t egged on the neo-Nazis and white supremacists in the first place.
He then calls Trump’s comments “morally ambiguous” and “confusing” rather than “morally repugnant” and a “disgrace to our nation.” Instead, Paul Ryan just mildly rebuked the White House, saying, “I think he needed to do better.” He then lavished praise on the GOP’s president for saying the kind of thing he should have said in the first place.
“I actually think what he did two days ago in commending peaceful protests against the hate in Boston was a good start. I think, 25 minutes ago was exactly what a president needs to say, what we needed to hear.”
Jake Tapper stepped in and declared, “The issue that Eric [the questioner] was expressing was the reluctance to criticize President Trump for specifically saying things like, ‘very fine people were marching in that rally’ that had swastikas, and anti-Semitic things.” Amid loud cheers and applause, Tapper then tartly observed, “There were not any ‘very fine people’ in that rally.”
“That’s right, that’s right, that’s right,” Paul Ryan eagerly agreed as if he hadn’t been praising the GOP’s president seconds before. Jake Tapper then snapped, “And it wasn’t ‘morally ambiguous,’ it was morally wrong.”
And suddenly, Paul Ryan sounded like someone who actually gets it.
“Let me just add to what you said. I have a hard time believing if you’re standing in a crowd to protest something and you see all these anti-Semitic slogans, and the ‘heil Hitlers’ and the swastikas, and you’re good with that, you’re not a good person if you’re there. It’s so very clear. I totally agree with that.”
No, Paul Ryan, you don’t “totally agree with that.” After all, Donald Trump’s appeal to white supremacists is what put the GOP in power. Republicans like Paul Ryan have amply proven that they’re just fine with putting a racist, ableist, misogynist in the White House if it’ll get their horrible tax cuts, deregulation, and Obamacare repeal passed. Alas, Republican leaders have sold their souls for nothing, since they haven’t been able to get much done in the months since they seized control of our government. That’s what you get when you help elect a liar, cheat, and popular vote-losing fraud who has alienated a vast majority of Americans and didn’t have a mandate to begin with.
Paul Ryan then goes on to say the president is “equivocating” and “wrong,” but praises him for “clearing that up.”
“It was not only morally ambiguous, it was equivocating. And that was wrong. That’s why I think it was very, very important that he has since then cleared that up, And I think it’s important that he did that tonight.
Meanwhile, the Speaker’s up for re-election and Randy “Iron Stache” Bryce is gunning for his seat and demanding that he call out Donald Trump.
'Iron stache' Randy Bryce: "I want [Paul Ryan] to call out Donald Trump" over his Charlottesville response https://t.co/OLHy00slYq
— CNN (@CNN) August 22, 2017
Watch: Jake Tapper drops a truth bomb on Paul Ryan at CNN’s Town Hall meeting in Racine, Wisc.
Featured image: Video screen grab via CNN.