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Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, and one incredibly predictable Twitter tantrum

President Donald Trump and then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
President Donald Trump and then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan attending a Friends of Ireland luncheon, March 15, 2018.

What Donald Trump lacks in dignity, class and credibility he makes up for bigly in predictability, at least when the subject is who has said something nice about him and who has said something mean.

I don’t have a degree in character or integrity, but I feel I know them when I see them or, in the case of the current incumbent, I know their absence when I see their absence. Here’s a small example, lifted from a column in this morning’s Washington Post, illustrating the rather obvious point that Trump is a total whore for praise, and enforces a zero tolerance policy for criticism.

The case involves Trump’s 180-degree turn on former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan when excerpts from a new book indicated that Ryan had said what he really believes about Trump, which is that Trump is an ignoramus on matters of policy and how government works.

Ryan was a never-Trumper during the 2016 campaign. But after the 2016 election, Ryan fell in line, stopped saying mean things about Trump, tried not to talk about him any more than he had to and to say nothing interesting when he did. Ryan also found something on which he and Trump agreed (that rich people needed a tax cut) and played a major role in pushing through a big deficit busting tax cut.

You didn’t have to squint too hard to see that Ryan hated having to say nice things about Trump, and he decided to retire from politics after the 2018 midterms.

When Ryan retired, having stopped criticizing Trump and helping him score the tax cut, which turned out to be one of the very few legislative triumphs of the Trumpian era to date, Trump said (from Tim Elfrink’s Post piece) that Ryan was  a “truly good man” with a “legacy of achievement that nobody can question.”

But now comes “American Carnage,” by Tim Alberta, a soon-to-be-released insider tell-all book about the Trump presidency. Alberta quotes Ryan to the effect that Trump “didn’t know anything about government” and operates on ill-informed “knee-jerk reactions.”

The presidency is supposedly a fairly difficult, time-consuming job, and, we should to think, a job that promotes wisdom and personal growth in those who few who wield its awesome power. 

In Trump? Not so much. He wasted no time dusting off his Twitter gun and revising his position on how truly good and highly accomplished Ryan had been, with what Elfrink called “a three-tweet barrage” that included Trump describing Ryan’s leadership as “atrocious,” labeled him a “lame duck failure,” and suggested that Trump was thrilled when Ryan left Capitol Hill.

Comments (20)

  1. Submitted by Joe Bontems on 07/13/2019 - 07:14 am.

    An amusing article on “Le declin de l’Empire Americain,” but the editing could use a bit of polishing.

  2. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 07/13/2019 - 08:57 am.

    TTT = Trump Twitter TANTRUM. Tantrum needs to be all caps because Trump’s tantrums are tornadic.

  3. Submitted by Mike Schumann on 07/13/2019 - 10:30 am.

    What’s new here???? Whether you support him or not, we all know what a jerk Trump is. Why is this news? Give it a rest.

    All this focus on the latest Trump tweets totally drowns out the real news and a discussion of how we are going to solve the many problems that we have on multiple fronts, #1 of which is the flood of people pouring across our border. How are we going to stop that, or are we just going to throw up our hands, open the borders and have all of Central America move to the US?

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 07/13/2019 - 06:24 pm.

      Lets see richest country in the world, some of the poorest countries in the world, immigrants or refugees? compliments of US drug war policy, and political intervention, we broke it, maybe we should help these folks fix it? Instead we say hey, not my problem. Did I miss something. Suspect the same a,mount of $ we spend on stopping them at the border would do one hell of a job helping them in their own countries.

      • Submitted by Henry Johnson on 07/14/2019 - 12:20 pm.

        I think the fairly common perception that the US is “the richest country in the world” is actually based on our past situation Dennis, and unfortunately not our current situation.

        We probably were the richest country in the world in 1960 and 1970, and probably even in 1980 and 1990, but now? Not so much IMO.

        Decades and decades of spending by both major parties, has left us with a 22 trillion dollar national debt, and it’s being increased by about another trillion in 2019 and 1.1 trillion forecast being added in 2020.

        Looking at the link below, we are now the 38th most indebted country on the planet, with our debt being at about 74% of our GDP (gross domestic product).

        China on other hand has a debt of only about 16% of GDP, and their GDP is rising faster than ours.

        Therefore, I think the impression a lot of people have, that we’re a “rich” country is based on the fact that so far we are able to increase our debt level by selling new treasury bills – like a credit card that has had it’s credit line increased and increased and has not yet been ‘cut off’.

        But there’s a big difference between actually being rich, and maintaining a good lifestyle for the time being, by relying on a credit card.

        I would like to see us spend less money on our military, stop killing our young people in wars overseas while spending large amounts on the military to do that, and spend more on taking care of the people we already have in this country who are hurting – the homeless and those living below or near the poverty line.

        I don’t think though that we are well off enough to take care of all the poor people in central America, and all the poor from other countries who would follow them, if we were to have a near open-border policy.

        There are probably 1 to 3 billion people who live in poverty (depending on the definition of ‘poverty’), and unfortunately we don’t have the resources to take care of them.

        In fact, given our debt level, we’ll be very fortunate to maintain anywhere near our current standard of living as time goes on, since paying the interest on that growing national debt consumes more and more of our budget each year, and while we lose more and more of our highly-paid jobs to other countries (China, India, etc., etc.).

        I wish that wasn’t the case, but that’s how I see things.

    • Submitted by Henry Johnson on 07/13/2019 - 09:42 pm.

      Mike, I think perhaps the main reason you believe that illegal immigration is our number 1 problem is because you perhaps are a regular Fox news watcher, where they have been pushing the “invasion” idea practically around-the-clock as if it were a huge crisis for the last few years.

      We all tend to have our views shaped by our news sources and when you hear something over and over again for years, it becomes a “fact” in your mind, even if it’s not really all that true.

      In reality, as the bottom page of the attached link shows (please scroll down to see it), illegal immigration has been trending strongly downward for the last decade or two, and hit a 15 year low in 2017, and is still well below the levels seen from 2000 – 2005 for example.

      Yes, it’s a problem, and needs fixing, but no, it’s not the huge, huge “crisis” that it’s played up to be by people using it as a political tool to try to win votes, and actually is much less of a crisis now than it was in earlier years.

      It’s a big campaign issue, for both parties, both sides think they can make political hay out of it, but in reality, it’s probably mostly a crisis for the poor people stuck in those detention camps, and not so much for you or me ordinary citizens.

      I’m an independent, I’m probably squarely in the middle between the two major parties in my views on the immigration issue.

      I disagree completely with Trump’s approach to immigration, and his labeling them as “drug dealers and rapists”, there was never a need to demonize immigrants, since 98% of them are probably good decent people, looking to escape terrible conditions in other countries, and looking for a better life here.

      If Donald and Ivanka and the rest of the Trump clan were living in those countries, they’d wanna get out and would be “invading” us too !!

      On the other hand, as a nation, we’re 22 trillion dollars in debt, and according to this link have over 554,000 homeless people already in the country –

      And we probably have many millions living below or near the poverty level.

      Based on that I agree with you, we can’t afford to open our doors and just let in everyone who would like to come here because conditions in their own countries are terrible.

      We don’t have the money to even take of the people we already have here who are suffering, because we’re 22 trillion in debt and adding a trillion or more to that debt every year.

      So my belief is that we should treat the people coming to our border humanely, and end this separation of children from their parents, and get rid of the horrendous camps and so on, but just humanely put the people on a bus and send them back to their home country.

      After all, there are probably a billion or more of people living in poor countries, if we open our doors and say we are the answer to bad conditions in the rest of the world, the US would rapidly be swamped by the strain of the influx and become a third world country itself.

      Having given away our manufacturing jobs, and many other high-end jobs, sadly we’re probably on the road to third world country status anyway, but an open border policy would make that happen very quickly IMO.

      We shouldn’t treat people cruelly, or treat them as villains or claim they are “invading” the US, but on the other hand, let’s not pretend that we can afford to open our borders, and take on millions of poor people as another strain on our already over-strained welfare system.

      Here’s the link to the chart showing how illegal immigration has actually decreased fairly dramatically over the years –

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/14/2019 - 02:38 pm.

        Most of our debt is due to the drastic reduction in corporate tax income, particularly in the last year. And you know how THAT happened.

      • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 07/15/2019 - 07:48 am.

        Thank you Henry. When someone complains about criticism of Trump as not being news, that can be a legitimate argument. But when that same person tells you immigration is THE news, you know exactly where their TV dial is set.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/14/2019 - 02:36 pm.

      This ‘flood’ is a fraction of one percent of our population.
      With our shortage of minimum wage level labor, we certainly ought to be able to handle that. After all, unless you’re Native American, you’re a descendant of illegal immigrants.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/15/2019 - 09:12 am.

      No. Trump is not just “a jerk.” A “jerk” is someone who takes up two seats on the train during rush hour, or who persists in talking on their phone in the check-out line.

      Trump is so much more than a mere “jerk.” He is a misogynist, and a racist, and has dangerous authoritarian tendencies. He is lowering the world’s opinion of the United States, and running our foreign policy as a series of temper tantrums. The idea that we should ignore his behavior so we can focus on his priority is, at best, enabling wretched behavior.

      • Submitted by Misty Martin on 07/17/2019 - 12:17 pm.

        RB: I applaud you on your honesty – I’m so sick of Trump’s supporters trying to cover up for him. If Trump were in the Democratic party, the GOP who support him now, would be crying IMPEACHMENT!!!! So, what’s different?!? He’s the same JERK and all those other things that you said, no matter what party he would be in – Republican, Democrat or Independent. The GOP just want their own agenda advanced (no news to anyone reading this, I’m sure) and they wouldn’t care if Satan himself were President. The evangelicals on the other hand, I’m not sure what their problem is, and I am a born-again Christian . . . still, I cannot see WHY they would support such a disaster of a man as Trump is. He is a terrible representative of their Christian faith, and I once heard one of my Christian friends say that Bill Clinton was the “devil” and that Obama was “evil”. What would they call Donald Trump? A choirboy?!?

        When I’m really down, I just remember that these same people also voted for Richard Nixon, and we all know how that turned out. Although to be honest, in hindsight Nixon seems SO much better than this guy. At least he didn’t tweet insults a million times a month.

  4. Submitted by John Boyt on 07/13/2019 - 10:56 am.

    Thanks Wisconsin!

  5. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 07/13/2019 - 10:56 am.

    Please, Eric, don’t go down the Trump tantrum rat hole to echo his kindergarten vocabulary, like Trump’s complaints that people are being “mean” to him when they correctly call him out for ignorance and incompetence.

    Trump likes to play the victim, except when he’s praising himself as “a stable genius” because no one else will stoop so low as to call him that. Even when he assembles his Cabinet of Acting This and Acting That non-entities and goes round the table demanding that everyone there pay obeisance to the King.

    Trump has set up and is currently presiding over the most corrupt administration in American history, and those of us who are actually watching closely are aware of that. But not the Trumpites!

    And as for Paul Ryan: Better late in his negative characterization of Donald Trump than never. He spoke truth to the writer who interviewed him for his book.

    And Donald J. Trump can’t stand the truth. About himself or about the world in general.

  6. Submitted by Kamille Cheese on 07/13/2019 - 11:08 am.

    I find this article a welcome if not light-hearted relief compared to the usual half-truth, caterwauling, finger-pointing bashing of adults by adults that I, for one, find very tiresome.

    • Submitted by Henry Johnson on 07/14/2019 - 11:31 am.

      It occurred to me as an amusing irony that probably most of us would never have read all the recent disparaging remarks made by Ryan in the book, if Trump hadn’t reacted in his typical flame-throwing, bombastic way. The Trump reaction steered people to the book!

      And although it doesn’t matter I guess because his supporters love him no matter what, and many of us already know he’s a narcissistic clown, but for anyone on the fence, I think Ryan’s comments were probably more damaging to Trump than Trump’s were to Ryan.

      After all, we’re used to Trump torching people, and sometimes very good people, so all his ranting and raving probably don’t make much of an impression anymore.

      Ryan on the other hand, not withstanding his lack of backbone and his habit of putting on a super-annoying, self-satisfied grin while selling out even his own principles, is not in the habit of verbally attacking people on a regular basis.

      Actually it was nice to see a little counter-balance of party disunity on the republican side, to the escalating mess we have on the democratic side, with Pelosi foolishly verbally attacking “the squad” and the squad shamelessly playing the race card and accusing her of being a racist.

      Very bad judgement from Pelosi for making her comments, especially since she’s supposed to be the mature leader, and since she’s correctly asking for party unity, but as for the squad, it’s not the color of skin that she has a problem with, it’s their self-appointed ‘we are the leaders of the party now’ mouths that she probably a problem with.

      And all the things they are saying (on Jews, 9/11, radical socialism, etc) to make the party look like extremists and provide ammunition for republican campaign sound bites.

      On the other hand, like them, I too am getting tired of waiting around for impeachment proceedings to start – they can’t get any of Trumps people to appear before oversight committees, and Mueller just wants to be left alone as he made clear in previous testimony, so I wouldn’t expect much help from Mr. ‘I just wanna be left alone, I can’t be bothered to defend democracy’ in his upcoming testimony.

      So to me, impeachment hearings probably should be started, if only as a way to have a better chance to get more witnesses to be compelled to appear before congress.

      With the fracturing and nasty in-fighting in the party, and the focus on all these controversial policy proposals, instead of the focus being on beating Trump and the republicans in general in the 2020 election, the orange one and his minions in the house and senate must be pretty happy with the state of things, and must be gaining confidence that perhaps 2020 will see them not only hold the presidency and the senate, but have a decent shot at taking back the house as well.

      Yes, Trump himself is a liability to their chances, and a sizeable chunk of votes are there for the taking by democrats from republican never-Trumpers, alienated suburban republican women, and a big block of independents and moderate democrats and moderate republicans that realize Trump is a liability in the white house.

      But between the fact that the democrats are tearing each other down quite brutally and viciously now, and making far-left policy proposal after proposal that will turn-off and turn-away those same groups – I think unfortunately, Trump and his Trumpublican party are looking at pretty good chances in the 2020 election.

      Unless things change that is, and the democratic party does UNIFY AGAINST TRUMP, instead of butchering each other, and also tone down on the controversial policy proposals – which would then position them to have a very good chance at getting rid of Trump and maybe even taking the senate in 2020.

      My advice would be to wait until the presidency, senate and house have been won to start with the controversial policy proposals and the finger-pointing and in-fighting, if they can’t help but engage in that!

  7. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 07/13/2019 - 01:18 pm.

    Trump is the weakest person I can think of. He tries to cover it all with venom. He lacks so many basic decency attributes. His ego is based on money and attention which drives him to the point of absurdity. He also lacks ethics. Everything in his life that I have heard about him leads me to believe he has led and leads a life of crime. The clean up after his rein of terror won’t be easy to accomplish as Trump has unleashed those who share Trump’s value system or worse. Look at all the shady characters that have been brought in by Trump and in relative short order been run out of town. Fear and conspiracy is what he uses to try and change you and me. I for one will never be his follower. Ego is the anesthesia that deadens the pain of stupidity.

  8. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 07/13/2019 - 04:37 pm.

    I didn’t think it was possible me to have even less respect for the feckless Paul Ryan. But I think I do now. He couldn’t cowboy-up when it mattered; I’d just as soon he go away and not say anything at this point.

    As a Christian, I think it’d be best for him to don sackcloth and ashes and repent in private. If he wants to help society, he can do some quiet public service. Maybe at that soup kitchen he foisted himself upon during his run for Veep.

  9. Submitted by richard owens on 07/15/2019 - 09:53 am.

    The world needs some humor and it needs it fast. This article will make you forget your feelings about this phony.

    Paul Ryan, now a professor of Political Science at The university of Notre Dame, is exquisitely roasted in this beautiful piece,
    “The Syllabus to Paul Ryan’s Notre Dame Political Science Class:” “Principles of Governance and Obstruction ”

    (Ryan did once achieve a Bachelor of Arts degree.)

  10. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 07/15/2019 - 09:53 am.

    So, in the last few weeks we have both Ryan and McConnell being quoted in new books as regarding Trump as an unqualified imbecile, incapable to do the job he was elected to.

    And they both stood behind the “very stable genius” (and McConnell still does) at every opportunity. The party of Lincoln…

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