Paul Ryan addressed the Pennsylvania delegation at breakfast today. Care to guess how long it took him to say the word Trump?
After a couple minutes of football stuff — Packers, Steelers, Eagles — he got serious about politics: “We are only as strong as our party is strong …. We will not win this election by default. We will not win this election by just saying how bad the Obama years were. We will win if we give this country a really clear choice,” and if “Republicans offer people a better way. A clear choice.”
A clear choice, like Donald Trump? Um, that’s not what he meant:
“This is what we [in the House] have been working on all year long. We see ourselves in the House as sort of the engine room, the workhorses, working in the bowels of the ship of the Republican party, shoveling coal into the furnace — and by the way, there’s nothing wrong with coal.” (Yays.) “We’re trying to give some substance and direction.”
He’s three minutes in.
“The members said in January: We gotta have an agenda. We took a look at the big problems facing this country, and we went to work.” Poverty in America is terrible, he said, but “we’re basically paying people not to work …. They’re not reaching their potential, so we’re tackling this issue thoroughly and fundamentally …”
Five minutes in.
On issues of national security, “we’ve put out a very comprehensive 67 points. Go read it online. We’re focused on what we need to do to actually reclaim national security, how do you actually fix the military, what do you do to make sure the military gets what it needs, what do you do to actually honor the veterans, that is something we think we need to do…” And much more.
He’s six minutes in.
“And take a look at what’s going on with businesses these days. The regulatory state is truly a leviathan …. We need to stop injecting uncertainty into our businesses. One of the animating principles that built this country was self-determination. We need to be very clear on this. We want to govern ourselves [but] we are losing self-government, we are losing government by consent. Unelected bureaucrats are effectively writing our laws. I have a buddy I grew up with in Wisconsin …” And so on.
Nine minutes in.
“We’re not for Obamacare. We needed to show people what we’d replace it with. That’s exactly what we did. It took us about six years. But now we have consensus on what a true patient-centered health care looks like, not some distant rationing and price-controlling health care …” Etcetera.
Ten minutes in.
“And this tax code has gotta go. We need an IRS that is not intrusive … We’ve got to start very and give thus country a clean break.” And more.
Eleven minutes in.
“Hillary Clinton doesn’t agree with any of this stuff. Donald Trump does.”
Bingo! Twelve minutes!
“This is binary. It is. Trump or Clinton. That’s your choice.”
But hey, what about that Mike Pence? Having speedily switched topics, Ryan packed on the praise with a trowel: “This is a man who knows his principles, who has the courage of his convictions, he put his neck in the line, we have here a very very good leader, a knowledgable conservative Reagan-like happy warrior. I’m excited you’re going to get to know Mike Pence.”
Ryan’s not-so-implicit plea: The party is bigger than he who shall barely be named.
We’ll see about that.