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Paul Ryan Doesn’t Even Know How To Pretend To Have Principles

Paul Ryan gives a smarmy grin at the camera.

After serving more than 20 years in the House of Representatives (and just over three years as House Speaker), what former Republican Rep. Paul Ryan is best—and perhaps exclusively—known for is his legacy of screwing over poor and otherwise marginalized people in the name of “fiscal conservativism.”

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The closest Paul Ryan has ever come to exhibiting anything close to a moral backbone has been in his criticism of Donald Trump. (Which he issued while also enabling Trump’s racist immigration policies and adding hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit. What a legacy!) But even Ryan’s harshest condemnation was entirely self-serving and devoid of principle. Just in case anyone had forgotten that, Ryan took it upon himself to remind us via an interview with ABC News.

In the interview, Ryan talks about how terrible it would be if Trump won the Republican presidential primary in 2024. And it would be! Trump is a racist, misogynistic, transphobic, xenophobic, narcissistic authoritarian who brings out the absolute worst in every single person and institution he touches, and he encourages his supporters to engage in violence and hate in all forms.

None of that, though, is why Ryan hopes Trump doesn’t win the nomination. No, he just thinks that if Trump does win the primary, he couldn’t possibly go on to win the general election. And that, according to Ryan, is the worst thing that could happen.

“I’m proud of the accomplishments [seen during the Trump administration]—of the tax reform, the deregulation and criminal justice reform. I’m really excited about the judges we got on the bench, not just the Supreme Court, but throughout the judiciary,” Ryan said. “But I am a Never-Again Trumper. Why? Because I want to win, and we lose with Trump. It was really clear to us in ’18, in ‘20, and now in 2022.”

ABC’s Jonathan Karl repeatedly gives Ryan chances to try to say anything, to stand for anything. “What will it mean to the Republican Party if he actually wins the nomination,” he asks. Wouldn’t that be an “existential threat to the country?”

But Ryan refuses. The worst thing that would happen if Trump wins the primary? “We’d probably, likely, lose the White House.” OK, but what if he did win the general election? Ryan says, “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

What a stunning lack of political analysis there from Paul Ryan. ABC gave him this platform (for some reason??) to come out and condemn Trump or at least give some sort of insight into the landscape of Republican politics—and even letting him introduce the new category of “Never Trumpers” branding themselves with the catchphrase “Never Again Trumpers”—and he still can’t understand why anyone would care about anything beyond electability.

Way to be as big a feckless waste of space as always, Paul Ryan.

(image: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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