Any politician who’s elevated to Speaker of the House is, in theory, a person of the people: The House is often referred to as “The People’s House,” since it is populated by apportioned representatives from districts much smaller than the statewide races that determine Senate races. Then the representatives chosen by the people themselves choose a leader, a general, a captain — a position that no matter what you call it, is not inconsequential.
The Speaker, of course, is third in line for the presidency (a prospect that should probably terrify every Republican after the new Congress is sworn in).
But Paul Ryan is no kind of general. He’s no captain. In fact, Rep. Ryan has kind of always been a coward. But the outset of his political career was marked by some strange benefit-of-the-doubt that was awarded to him from both sides of the aisle, despite being an Ayn Rand disciple and demonstrating almost no political savvy other than speaking ability. Certainly, he was given a lot more credence than politicians who have followed him who understand policy much better than he ever has — and who actually care about other humans. This, too, is a trait that Ryan seems to lack.
Maybe that’s why, as a parting gift to a President he never even liked, he signed the US on indefinitely to remain involved in the worst humanitarian crisis in decades, the Saudi war on Yemen.
Saudi Arabia has, of course, been in the news for the high-profile murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose death Trump refuses to acknowledge was the work of his best pals in the royal family. But aside from assassinating critics of the kingdom, the oil-rich monarchy has also been embroiled in a full-on conflict that has killed 50,000 Yemeni citizens and left 20 million in need of humanitarian aid.
Ironically, the Senate — usually the blockade by which all bipartisan efforts are walled off from success — was all set to stop US aid to Saudi Arabia that would have lent assistance to the conflict. But in one last dirty maneuver, Paul Ryan let his right-wing allies in the House add an amendment to a must-pass farm bill that prevented Congress from voting on any such matter involving Yemen before the next Congress is seated.
Couldn’t bring himself to attach his name to something meaningful and good? That’s our country’s biggest coward, Paul Ryan.
He’s finally on his way out the door, and not a moment too soon.
Featured image via screen capture