Category: Paul Ryan

Trump’s quote on shifting blame just about says it all

Trump’s quote on shifting blame just about says it all

The Washington Post
By Aaron Blake

President Trump almost admitted Monday that he is failing on his agenda. Then he caught himself.

“We’re not getting the job done,” he began, before quickly shifting course. “And I’m not going to blame myself. I’ll be honest: They are not getting the job done,” he said, referring to Congress.

You hear that, Congress? Trump is washing his hands of you. That “bully pulpit” that Theodore Roosevelt talked about? Overrated. Lyndon Johnson’s physical intimidation of wavering lawmakers? Trump shouldn’t be expected to dirty his hands. Harry Truman’s “buck stop here?” Nope, it actually stops over there, down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Points for honesty, I guess. If there was one microcosm of Trump’s attitude toward blame acceptance, this was it. In the span of a few seconds, Trump served notice that he separates himself from any responsibility for what Congress does or doesn’t do. It’s all on them.

This might be the most obvious bit of blame-shifting from Trump, but it’s certainly not the first time he’s done it.

It’s fine to note that things aren’t completely under your control as president — we don’t have a dictator — but presidents do get a chance to exert influence over the things the country talks about and Congress passes. The president can bring to bear plenty of pressure when it comes to swaying wavering lawmakers. When it comes to health care, Trump needed only to help win over skeptical Republican senators.

But Trump has shown considerably less interest in providing a helping hand to McConnell and Ryan than he has in absolving himself of the blame for their failures to produce. He has frequently given conflicting signals about what he wants to see from the health-care effort, has feuded with senators who provide key votes — often after the bills have already failed — and has generally shown very little interest in policy details. It’s one thing to not be a details guy; it’s another to seem completely clueless about what’s working its way through Congress at any given moment. Trump is almost always far to the latter end of the spectrum.

And at it’s core, it’s more a sign of desperation than it is of his power as president. To be clear: The president admitted Monday that he’s been neutered in the Oval Office. And whether you think he shoulders lots of blame or even just a little, he certainly carries at least some of the blame for that.

Nobody knows what Trump is doing, not even Trump

Nobody knows what Trump is doing, not even Trump

The Washington Post
Dana Milbank

House Speaker Paul Ryan could not have been more clear.

After meeting with his Republican caucus Wednesday morning on the first day back from their long summer break, he declared at a news conference that Democrats’ call for a three-month extension of the government’s borrowing limit was “ridiculous.”

“That’s ridiculous and disgraceful, that they want to play politics with the debt ceiling at this moment,” he repeated. He called it “unworkable,” said it would jeopardize hurricane response and called out Democratic leaders by name for promoting what “I don’t think is a good idea.”

About an hour later, Ryan and other GOP leaders sat in the White House with President Trump, who told them he wants . . . a three-month increase of the debt ceiling, just as Democrats proposed.

Such chaos and confusion at the highest level of American government hadn’t been seen since, well, the day before.

What does the president want? Nobody knows — not his advisers, not his fellow Republicans in Congress, and probably not Trump himself.

The latest Republican defense of Trump is built on a massive lie

Opinion from The Washington Post — Written by Greg Sargent —

Now that James B. Comey’s testimony to Congress has painted a picture of President Trump’s contempt for the rule of law that’s far more forceful and persuasive in its dramatic details than Republicans ever bargained for, the new and emerging GOP defense is that Trump is a political and procedural naif. He merely needs to learn the rules. This line of obfuscation requires pretending that many of the events of the past six months never happened.

But this spin from Republicans has a significance that runs deeper than merely revealing the absurd lengths to which they’ll go to protect Trump from political and legal harm. More urgently, their new line unwittingly reveals the degree to which Trump’s abuses of power and assault on our democracy have depended all along upon their tacit and willful complicity — and, perhaps worse, it leaves little doubt that this enabling will continue, with unforeseen consequences.

This strategy takes various forms. Paul Ryan casts Trump’s interactions with Comey as a mere matter of inexperience. “The president’s new at this,” Ryan says, adding that Trump “probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols” that under our system establish law enforcement’s independence from the White House. Others ground the argument in Trump’s business past or affection for the theatrics of disruption. “He’s used to being the CEO,” insists one House Republican. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) adds that Trump is merely being “crude, rude and a bull in a china shop.”

But Republicans making this argument are dishonestly feigning naivete about much of what we’ve seen from Trump since the beginning of his presidency. The problem with the idea that Trump merely needs to learn the rules is that we have a large pile of evidence showing that Trump is deeply convinced that the rules should not apply to him.

 

Resigned to Trump’s woes, G.O.P. keeps working on legislative goals

From The New York Times — Written by Jonathan Martin and Jennifer Steinhauer — Image Courtesy of Yuri Gripas / Reuters

As James B. Comey was testifying that President Trump was a liar, Senator John Hoeven held two meetings about health care, and pondered ideas about infrastructure.

“We’re working,” said Mr. Hoeven, Republican of North Dakota, though he conceded that the president’s travails “make it tougher.”

For their part, his Republicans colleagues on the Senate Intelligence Committee made it clear at Mr. Comey’s hearing that they had no appetite to confront the president, saving their criticism for Hillary Clinton and spending much of their time focused on the fact that Mr. Trump himself was not under investigation.

As they have traveled through the various stages of grief over the unpredictability of their president and the realization that Mr. Trump is unlikely to change, congressional Republicans appear to have landed at acceptance, basically hoping that the president does not get in their way.

They have largely ceased defending or explaining Mr. Trump’s more ostentatiously reckless remarks or Twitter posts, and at their most critical they casually chide his behavior — as did Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who told Mr. Comey at the hearing that Mr. Trump “never should have asked you, as you reported, to let the investigation go.”

The House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, seemed to chalk up Mr. Trump’s attempt to pressure Mr. Comey into backing off an investigation into his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, to the incompetence of a newcomer. “The president’s new at this,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Realizing that Mr. Trump has served as neither a strong advocate for their positions — indeed he often criticizes them — nor a focused student of public policy, Republicans are letting Democrats serve as Mr. Trump’s loudest critics while trying to establish the president as inept, perhaps, but not criminal.

How Trump is torturing Capitol Hill

From The Atlantic — Written by Molly Ball — Image courtesy of Yuri Gripas / Reuters

“Morning, everybody!” Paul Ryan chirped. “Busy week!”

It was indeed: Less than a day had passed since the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Russia’s involvement in the presidential campaign; just a few hours since President Trump angrily tweeted that the investigation was “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”; and only minutes since the Russia-linked former national-security adviser, Michael Flynn, had begun defying congressional subpoenas. A few days prior, the president had been accused of revealing sensitive intelligence information to the Russian foreign minister.

As Ryan earnestly touted his party’s work on “landmark federal IT reform legislation,” there was a grim, haunted look in his bright-blue eyes, and it wasn’t hard to imagine why. What ought to have been the salad days of Republican-led government had instead become a ceaseless, disorienting swirl of scandal, 120 days of self-inflicted chaos and crisis.

A flawed, unpopular health-care bill is stalled in the Senate, the president’s budget proposal has been dismissed out of hand, and hope is fading for other priorities such as tax reform and infrastructure. “How do you pack all that in?” Senator John McCain asked last week, adding, “So far, I’ve seen no strategy for doing so. I’m seeing no plan for doing so.” One Republican congressman suggested that what was needed was for the president to throw “a temper tantrum” to get lawmakers to act—this congressman happened to be named Brat.

Meanwhile Democrats sit back and watch it burn, with no small amount of schadenfreude, and the Republicans who never liked Trump see their worst predictions fulfilled. “You bought this bad pony. You ride it,” the anti-Trump consultant Rick Wilson tweeted recently. A staffer to a Senate Republican who did not vote for Trump told me, “We didn’t have high expectations, so we’re not disappointed. We tried to warn you.”

Washington’s turbulence has yet to redound to the benefit of Democrats, and the Montana victory soothed some Republican nerves. But one GOP lobbyist wondered to me whether longtime members of Congress might soon take the opportunity to retire if the situation doesn’t improve. “You finally have united Republican government, and this is as good as it gets? Why bother?” he said. “A malaise is setting in.”

These 8th-graders from New Jersey refused to be photographed with Paul Ryan

From The Washington Post — Written by Peter Jamison

For students across the country, the traditional eighth-grade trip to Washington is a chance to join the throngs on the Mall and perhaps spot some of the world’s most powerful people on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.

But a group from South Orange Middle School in New Jersey may remember their trip to the nation’s capital last week for another reason: It was the occasion for a pointed snub of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).

Dozens of the 218 students on the trip refused to have their photo taken with Ryan when he briefly joined them outside the capitol Thursday, students on the trip said. Those present were unable to provide a precise tally of how many opted out.