For Father's Day 2016, Paul D. Ryan gave the world . . . Paul D. Ryan.
Specifically, the Republican House speaker tweeted a soft-focus video about life with his three growing children. “We fish. We hike. We go do something,” Ryan said as a string instrument plucked in the background. “Then we go to the store or get some venison out of the freezer, and I grill a huge smorgasbord.”
This was a decent video, according to the Twitter ratio rule. More than 100 hearts and friendly retweets far outnumbered a few dozen hostile comments, many of them left by partisans on edge about the coming presidential election.
For Father's Day 2017, Ryan's office either recycled the previous year's footage, or he wore exactly the same green tie and shirt. “I believe I can be a great policymaker, advocating for the beliefs and ideals I have without sacrificing my higher priority, which is just to have a good family life,” he said, with a little shrug for the camera.
This, too, was a relatively well-received Twitter video, even in the toxic political climate of President Trump's first year in office. More hearts than snark.
But then this weekend Ryan re-gifted himself to America again — tweeting the same video from 2017, with his same advice on the ideal family life, and the same grinny group photos of Liza, Charlie, Sam and their dad.
What might have been appreciated on Father's Days past went over like a used food processor this time, amid the Trump administration's “zero-tolerance” crackdown on illegal migration that has resulted in the forced separation of thousands of children from their mothers and fathers at the Southwestern U.S. border.
More than 30,000 replies to Ryan's Saturday video eclipsed fewer than 1,000 retweets, a roughly 30-to-1 ratio that is off-the-charts bad even by the speaker's historical standards.
Many of the replies are variations on the same theme: images of children being physically taken from their parents, compared with the family fun on display in the House speaker's video.
“How about the dads having their children torn from their arms,” asked @kaicee118.
“Happy Father's Day to everyone who knows where their children are, AMIRITE, PAUL?” asked Geraldine DeRuiter.
And the singer John Legend just swore at the congressman.
And, yes, the commenters were generally of the liberal bent.
“TAKE COVER! Paul D. Ryan’s ‘early Father’s Day’ tweet with his kids INFURIATES Resistance lefties,” mocked the right-wing tweet aggregator Twitchy.
But the torrent of mockery directed at Ryan was much larger, possibly an order of magnitude larger than any that had visited his Twitter feed before.
This is the same Ryan who once deleted a tweet celebrating a secretary's $6-a-month tax cut and who New York magazine had once claimed was “the most hated man on Twitter, scientifically,” citing ratio statistics to do so.
If nothing else, the furious reaction to Ryan's ostensibly apolitical Father's Day tweet demonstrated how much public revulsion there is over the Trump administration's policy of detaining parents who cross the border without documentation, which has caused nearly 2,000 children to be seized and taken to government shelters.
On Father's Day, several Democratic lawmakers visited a detention center outside New York City while others headed to a facility in Texas where children have been detained. Senior White House advisor Kellyanne Conway said onNBC’s “Meet the Press” that “If they don’t like that law, they should change it."
Not everyone yelling at Ryan, accusing him of hypocrisy, seemed to be aware that he said just last week, “We don't want kids to be separated from their parents.” Or that his party, while officially blaming Democrats for the separations, is drafting legislation that would allow children to remain with their parents in lockup. (But as Politico reported, immigration advocates have criticized that GOP plan, as well, claiming it would result in even longer detentions.)
Ryan's office declined to comment on the Twitter reaction. It's worth nothing that the video was actually posted Saturday, as an early Father's Day treat, and it has been the speaker's practice to share a second video on the day of.