Ryan and other Republican leaders are explaining their seeming about-face on Trump's ban by insisting that the executive order doesn't target any particular religion and, therefore, doesn't violate Ryan's stated opposition to barring people from the United States on the grounds of their religious preference.
To which I say: Riiiiiiiiiight.
What's really happened between Ryan's first statement in December 2015 and his current reaction to the Trump executive order is that Trump got elected president. Back in late 2015, there was considerable doubt that Trump would even emerge as the Republican nominee. He did — and then he won the White House, running, unapologetically, on policies just like this one.
Over that time, Ryan found a way to make a sort-of peace with Trump, focusing on Trump's apparent willingness to defer to congressional Republicans on major domestic-policy matters including the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, entitlement revision and tax restructuring.
The problem for Ryan, as the latest Trump executive order makes clear, is that Trump's vision of conservatism is radically at odds with Ryan's vision. Ryan spent much of last fall, after he publicly pronounced that he would not campaign for Trump, laying out a positive and inclusive vision of the GOP. Ryan was clearly hoping that when — not if — Trump lost, he himself could begin to emerge as the party's primary leader and implement some of his ideas for a party desperate for direction.
Instead, he found himself sitting on a dais in Philadelphia on Thursday while Trump touted a protectionist view on trade and offered few specifics about how he proposes Congress fund his many priorities, including infrastructure spending and the construction of a wall along the country's southern border.
This week drove home two painful realities for Ryan: 1) Trump is not going to sit back and let others run the country; and 2) Trump's vision of what the Republican Party is and should be is totally different from the speaker's own.
For those two reasons and the prospect of four more years of President Trump, Paul Ryan, you had the Worst Week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
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