Ryan Ends Anti-Trump Theater, Prepares Surrender


So, our long national nightmare – the approximately six day period in which Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said he wasn’t ready to embrace Donald Trump as his candidate for president of the United States – is apparently drawing to its long-awaited close. On Thursday, Ryan met with Trump in Washington, D.C. After the meeting, the two released a joint statement:

The United States cannot afford another four years of the Obama White House, which is what Hillary Clinton represents. That is why it’s critical that Republicans unite around our shared principles, advance a conservative agenda, and do all we can to win this fall. With that focus, we had a great conversation this morning. While we were honest about our few differences, we recognize that there are also many important areas of common ground. We will be having additional discussions, but remain confident there’s a great opportunity to unify our party and win this fall, and we are totally committed to working together to achieve that goal. We are extremely proud of the fact that many millions of new voters have entered the primary system, far more than ever before in the Republican Party’s history. This was our first meeting, but it was a very positive step toward unification.

Reince Priebus, party lackey for the Kingdom of Trump, issued this tweet:

Ryan says it will take more meetings with Trump to come to consensus, but it will certainly happen; Priebus says there was “very good chemistry” between Ryan and Trump. Presumably, Trump gave Ryan a rose in this latest political iteration of The Bachelor.

It’s not difficult to parse this situation: it’s all been theater. Ryan acted as a sort of antithesis to the non-conservative vulgar thesis of Trump; now, there will be a Hegelian synthesis. Ryan acted out the part of the wronged conservative, then surrendered to Trump. His cave will be used as a club against any conservative who refuses to join in this new “unification.”

For those conservatives who are principled, the joint statement is laughable. Downplaying Trump’s clean break with Constitutionalism and conservatism as “our few differences” is rectifying a Grand Canyon-sized breach with flypaper. Pretending that there are “many important areas of common ground” between Paul Ryan’s brand of conservatism and Donald Trump’s is pure hogwash.

In fact, Ryan’s decision to collapse when faced with Trumpism isn’t all that surprising – it’s precisely the same instinct that has led the Republican Party to collapse to another Democrat, Barack Obama, over and over again in the name of national unity. This failure theater is now a tired spectacle: play fight, then surrender, claiming that you’ve defended principle and won some minor victory. That’s the Ryan Plan when it comes to Trump, too.

There has always been a tension in the Republican Party: is it a conservative party, or merely a vehicle for victory for whomever controls it? Trump’s ascendance makes clear that the Republican Party is nothing but the latter. It’s no longer the party of Lincoln. It’s now the party of Whatever Will Give Us Power – just like the other party of Whatever Will Give Us Power. And Paul Ryan is apparently part of the problem, too.