Paul Ryan: creep, failure, hero of the hour | Dave Schilling

March 17, 2017

Put Donald Trump centre stage and all sorts of weird things happen. Anyone who isnt him gains gravitas no matter how odious and Ryan is a case in point

Somebody said the paparazzi is going crazy over that meeting, Donald Trump told the New York Times today, referencing his upcoming sitdown with Republican congressional leaders. Its a curious thing to have a politician referencing the photographic scourge of high-wattage celebrities. I might not have polling data from Nate Silver to back this up, but Im certain the average tabloid reader isnt foaming at the mouth to watch candid photos of Mitch McConnell sunbathing.

Trumps statement is even odder when you consider that the object of that paparazzi attention includes Paul Ryan a human who, in addition to looking like the manager of a Subway sandwich shop on a college campus, is an unsuccessful vice-presidential nominee and the public face of a Congress with a 79% disapproval rating, according to a recent Gallup poll.

His rise from guy you avoid eye contact with at the gym to major player in the 2016 general elections is remarkable, but its the direct result of what I like to call the Trumpian Illusion( which sounds like the title of an episode of the original Star Trek series) anyone who isnt Donald Trump automatically seems 10 years older and wiser next to the burnt orange diaper-man.

Sure, when Paul Ryan smiles, you think hes recently spiked the punch at a nearby high school prom. And yes, hes against women reproductive rights, taxation increases for the wealthiest Americans, and the lawfully enacted healthcare program derisively referred to as Obamacare. Hes never discussed the size of his own genitals in a public political speech, so he gains gravitas points by default.

In a way, Paul Ryan reminds me of former Democratic vice-presidential nominee John Edwards. Before he perpetrated an unforgivable act of infidelity against his dying spouse, Elizabeth, Edwards was seen as a shining light of the progressive movement. He was plain-spoken, with a populist message against income inequality that resonated with voters in 2004.

By the 2008 presidential primary, he had sharpened that message into the catchy two Americas stump speech. He was handsome in a Kennedy-esque sort of way, a face Democrats merely cant help themselves over when they are confronted with it in the flesh. They start salivating uncontrollably and temporarily lose all motor skills.

The problem Edwards had is that he wasnt nearly as charming or appealing as the party apparatus wanted to believe he was. He didnt have enough experience to topple John Kerry with a primary electorate that craved a Washington insider to embarrass George W Bush, though he was able to squeeze on to the ticket as Kerrys operating mate.

His performance against Dick Cheney in the debates that year didnt wow anyone, but he carried on. In 2008, his lauded rhetorical skills paled in comparison to the once-in-a-lifetime oratorical genius of Barack Obama. He might have looked like a chairman, but he wasnt a president.

Paul Ryan has that same sheen of the generically handsome stroll and talking like a robot send from the future to bomb Iran. If the Tea Party of 2012 could have created a test-tube nominee in a laboratory, it would have appeared precisely like Paul Ryan. His has the face of a human who never even considered premarital sex let alone condoned it. Truly, that is the visage of a guy who DVRs reruns of Matlock and feeds pudding from a plastic beaker. I assume that when he works out, hes not listening to EDM or podcasts, but the audio of the mighty Mississippi river rushing or the incessant caw of the majestic bald eagle.

Looking like he should be important has allowed him to continually fail upwards in politics. They tell dress for the job you want, but Paul Ryan took it a step further and was simply born like that. In true American style, hes blundered his way to prominence first as a freshman congressman, then a disastrous vice-presidential nominee, and now an unpopular speaker of the House. At this rate, Speaker Ryan has a decent shot of being named Supreme Galactic Emperor before his time is up.

Trump has shown no particular interest in moderating his posture. In that same New York Times article, hes quoted as saying: You win the pennant and now youre in the World Series you gonna change? People like the way Im doing. He uses his electoral mandate as justification for telling the GOP establishment to lock themselves in a panic room until November.

The only hope of the congressional contingent is that Paul Ryan channels his inner Subway manager firm, resolute, unyielding.

Just like the manager of a Subway will tell you over and over again that avocado is extra; that they are definitely out of Italian herb and cheese bread; and that yes, the bathroom is for customers only, Paul Ryan must stand up to Donald Trump the very definition of an entitled, pushy fast-food customer who thinks the world owes him extra cheese. History will either remember Paul Ryan for being an underachieving ship for rightwing talking points or an honorable human who refused to be bullied by Donald Trump. Its altogether up to him.

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