Showdown at the D.C. Corral

Published: May 11, 2016

By Jim Lichtman
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Tomorrow is “T-Day”; the date presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump sits down with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to “hash out” some accommodation on policy and personality issues as Trump moves forward with his campaign.

Trump-Man- Card

Last Sunday, Ryan was brutally honest in an interview when CNN host Jake Tapper asked if he would be willing to support Trump.

Ryan: “I’m just not ready to do that at this point. I’m not there right now. But I think what is required is that we unify the party. And I think the bulk of the burden on unifying the party will have to come from our presumptive nominee. …

“…we hope that our nominee aspires to be Lincoln and Reagan-esque…”

“I think what is necessary to make this work… is to actually take up principles and advance them. And that’s what we want to see. Saying we’re unified doesn’t in and of itself, unify us, but actually taking the principles that we all believe in, showing that there’s a dedication to those, and running a principled campaign that Republicans can be proud about, and that can actually appeal to a majority of Americans, that to me is what it takes to unify this party. …

“I think conservatives want to know, does he share our values and our principles on limited government, the proper role of the executive, adherence to the Constitution. …

Tapper: Do you think that’s even possible?

Ryan: “Yes, I think it’s possible. But we’re not there right now.”

Tapper: “If he hasn’t been the Reagan-esque, Lincoln-esqe, Jack Kemp-esque nominee that you need him to be, that you want him to be in order for you to say that you support him, what are you going to do?”

Ryan: “I’ll gavel the convention in, and I’m hoping by then that this will be a unified party. But I think a lot of the burden is on the presumptive nominee to do that. And so we’ll see.”

Tapper: “Doesn’t he completely have to say that he doesn’t support the deportation of 12 million undocumented immigrants because you disagree with that? … He doesn’t support banning all Muslims from entering the United States, because you don’t support that?”

Ryan: “Look, who am I?”

Tapper: “You’re the speaker of the house!” …

“I cited those two things, not because I didn’t think that you had rebuked him on them, but because they seem to go against, in your the view, the principles of the Republican Party in terms of religious liberty, in terms of free trade, in terms of deporting 12 million undocumented workers… Like, those are principles. It’s not just policy agreements. Those are principal disagreements you have with them.”

Ryan: “We’ve got work to do.”

Tapper: “David Broke wrote this in the New York Times of a Trump nomination. Quote, ‘This is a Joe McCarthy moment. People will be judged by where they stood at this time. Those who walk with Trump will be tainted forever after for the degradation of standards and the general election slaughter,’ end-quote. Do you see it that way?”

Ryan: “I am not looking at it like that.”

Sorry, Paul, but that’s exactly how you should look at the possibility of a Trump presidency. In fact, Times journalist Broke is too kind. Trump is a dangerous amalgam of Huey Long, Joe McCarthy and George Wallace completely untethered from anything approaching reality much less the political realities of Washington and the world. That’s why 121 members of the Republican national security community posted a full-page letter last March stating that Trump “…would use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe, and which would diminish our standing in the world.”

Does anyone think, (other than Trump handmaidens Scottie Nell Hughes and Kayleigh McEnany), that Donald Trump is going to change his spots; that he’s magically going to turn into a respectful, civil, responsible, and inspiring leader after meeting with Ryan and Senate Republican Mitch McConnell?

The answer can be found in Trump’s most recent remark.

“You win the pennant and now you’re in the World Series — you gonna change?”

Except this isn’t baseball and you’re not running for the World Series title. You’re running for the most responsible office in the land, and the country and the world expect much more.

I respect Paul Ryan. He impresses me as a principled leader who has earned the respect of a very fractured Republican party, but his judgment is hopelessly clouded by blue sky optimism.

At the end of the day, Republicans have two choices: they can play the Donald Trump “Man” card, or they turn to the principled, duty-to-country first of Paul Ryan.


They can’t have it both ways.


  1. Jim, thanks for another excellent article that clarified the issues and personalities involved, as well as the ethical considerations.

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