Ryan and Trump

A little late on this, but wanted to get in a few thoughts on Paul Ryan’s impending obeisance to Donald Trump.  First, I like how Yglesias gamed this out a couple weeks ago:

The most fundamental problem for Ryan is that he and his colleagues in the House of Representatives need the conservative voters who gave them a majority in 2012 to show up and vote. Turnout falls for both sides during midterms, but it falls more for liberals, which gave the GOP a big edge in 2010 and 2014. But even in 2012, when turnout was high, the GOP held a majority thanks to a mix of incumbency advantages and favorable district boundaries.

Democrats will vote in 2016, and Ryan needs Republicans to vote also. Even if some of them end up voting for Hillary Clinton in the end, that’s okay. He just can’t have them stay home.

That means, realistically, at the end of the day the House GOP’s electoral machinery is going to have to work together with the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign on turnout and election logistics. For Ryan to refuse to cooperate would be just dooming his own majority…

Another fundamental advantage Trump has in this standoff is that the stakes are much higher for Ryan than they are for Trump.

Trump might win in November, but he will probably lose regardless of what Ryan says or does. Ryan, by contrast, will probably hold on to his House majority. Fighting between Trump and Ryan hurts both men’s causes, but Trump’s cause is already underwater and Ryan’s isn’t. Objectively, House Republicans have a lot to lose from a GOP meltdown and Trump doesn’t…

Throughout his rise to domination over the Republican Party, leaders in Washington have indulged the fantasy that somehow if Trump won the nomination he would become morereliant on them than he was on the campaign trail.

The exact reverse is the case. Precisely because Trump isn’t a professional politician and has no particular personal, emotional, or intellectual investment in larger Republican Party projects, it’s not so bad for him if the whole thing goes down in flames. The party’s institutional leaders and rank-and-file apparatchiks, by contrast, have a great deal of personal, emotional, and intellectual investment in the larger project. The costs of defecting from Team Trump are very high, most of them won’t do it, and Trump knows it. [emphasis mine]

Very prescient so far.  Also really liked Amy Davidson’s take after the Ryan-Trump meeting:

Ryan’s message, which has also been heard from other Republicans, is that, though there are “policy disputes” between him and Trump, what matters is that they come together on “core principles.” These included things like “the Constitution” and “limited government”; one wonders if Ryan expected Trump to come in and say that he thought the Constitution was terrible and that tyranny sounded pretty good. (At times, he has come close.) Ryan also mentioned “life,” while noting that there were several varieties of anti-choice views in the Party. What was striking was that Ryan also brought up the distinction when a reporter asked him about matters like Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the country. “We will have policy disputes. I’m not interested in litigating the past. I am interested in going forward to see where that common ground exists,” Ryan said. Small government is a principle; the treatment of racial and religious minorities, apparently, is a policy. [emphasis mine] (John Cornyn, one of the senators who met with Trump, reduced it further, to an “issue of tone.”) The entire performance was a statement on what, and whom, today’s Republican Party considers marginal. It had that in common with the presumptive nomination of Donald Trump.

And Eugene Robinson:

Anyone choosing self-interest over principle — a habit I have observed among politicians — would think twice about opposing a man who has received more primary votes than any previous GOP nominee.

Thus we witness a shameful parade of quislings. The most galling surrender may have been that of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), who says he will support the nominee even though Trump cruelly ridiculed him for being shot down and captured during the Vietnam War.

McCain’s military service was a profile in courage; what he’s doing now is not…

Ryan acknowledged after his meeting with Trump that “differences” remain. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has endorsed Trump, as has most of Ryan’s leadership team in the House. If Ryan were to announce at this point that he deemed Trump unfit for the presidency and therefore could not support him, he would become the leader of a movement with few followers.

The Republican Party will not be united this fall. In what promises to be a display of cravenness on an epic scale, it will pretend to be.




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