03 August 2016
Will Ryan's reckoning come early?
The Speaker of the House endorsed Donald Trump for President on the premise that, as President, Trump would sign the legislation Paul Ryan favors. The question now, three months before the election, is whether Ryan will be there to bang the gavel on that legislation. He's being primaried by a Republican even further to the right, while Trump takes a stance of mocking neutrality, using some of the same language Ryan used while he took his sweet time endorsing Trump after the primaries. Meanwhile, Trump has praised Ryan's rival, Paul Nehlen, for being one of the few Republicans to take his side in his feud with Khizr Khan, the Pakistani-American whose son was killed in Iraq while fighting for the U.S. Army. The Khan-troversy has left many Republicans shaking their heads. It seems to show that Trump simply can't let something drop. In fact, he didn't have anything to say immediately after Khan appeared at the Democratic convention to question the constitutionality of Trump's proposed regulations of Muslim immigration. It was only when prodded on one of the weekend panel shows that Trump crossed a line. Not content to defend his own position, he noted the silent presence of Mrs. Khan on the stage next to her husband and wondered aloud whether hubby would not allow wifey to speak. This was, arguably, the first actually bigoted thing Trump has said about a Muslim, and by prevailing standards it was still pretty mild. You wouldn't think so to follow the news, but Trump really hasn't had anything to say about the religion of Islam. But now he had committed a double sin in some Republican eyes: he had insulted Muslims implicitly and he had insulted the family of a soldier who had given his life for his country. Speaker Ryan took a "hate the sinner, not the sin" approach to this, praising the Khan family and reiterating his own opposition to "a religious test for entering our country" without mentioning Trump. For Paul Nehlen, however, Republicans are either for Trump or against him. He defended Trump's position and criticized Khan for insufficiently denouncing radical Islam, while warning that Ryan would only prove an obstacle to a Trump Presidency. Whether Trump's fans agree remains to be seen, and depending on what happens in Wisconsin next week other Republicans may think twice, or thrice, about criticizing Trump or his positions -- or about supporting him at all.