During his first week in office, Donald Trump regaled the annual prayer breakfast in Washington D.C. with the suggestion that the gathered worthies pray for Arnold Schwarzenegger because of his poor ratings on The Apprentice. Trump claimed that when he starred on this tasteless “reality” program, his ratings had been through the roof, much higher than Arnold’s. For the record, all of this was contradictory to actual facts as determined by ratings. Nor was it intended as self-deprecating humor.
The newly inaugurated POTUS simply considered this a fit subject for the traditional Prayer Breakfast, in which the new president gathers with a diverse group of national religious leaders to pray for his administration and the future of our country. The tone of this occasion, until now, can best be described as reverent.
You would think that Republicans nationwide, both voters and politicians, would be cringing in shame. Instead, what we see on the face of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is his nationally recognized victory smirk. Of course, I understand why Republicans claim victory in last November’s election. While they did not get the most votes, they did win all the big empty states – the states that are geographically empty, and the states where many of the voters are merely empty-headed.
And I understand why Paul Ryan smirks, though he smirks a bit less with every tumultuous day that passes. He smirks because he has been dying to snatch people’s healthcare away from them, raise their premiums, and make sure anybody with a pre-existing condition or a costly serious condition cannot get insurance and therefore care. Republicans live for that kind of stuff! When Speaker Ryan is not denying the scientifically irrefutable theory of climate change to please the oil titans who are lining his campaign coffers with gold, or trying to change social security into a market-based system that will leave most of our grandmas eating out of dumpsters, he is studying the words of an alcoholic Russian nymphomaniac for guidance on how to further mess up our lives and imperil our futures.
Ryan and his ilk have benefited by the Dark Money onslaught that has taken over not only Congress but 33 out of 50 of our states. The gerrymandering efforts, the phony think tanks, even the aggressively truth-free talk radio jocks have all received their share. But nobody has benefited more from the libertarian onslaught than Ryan and his fellow-Republican politicians. His phony outrage about Obamacare and the so-called budget deficit have done as much as anything to deceive the reactionary, newspaper eschewing Republican base about the dangers of planning for the future with sensible environmental and family-planning policies. He has done as much as anyone to rouse a xenophobic fear of immigration as a way of distracting from the impact of so many bad policies.
I doubt very much that Speaker Ryan, an avowed Catholic who is worth a reputed $4M through marriage (not a lot in Republican money) even believes in God. Nobody could pursue such a mean and reckless course on behalf of the American people and believe in a Higher Power. At least, nobody who was not very, very twisted.
I don’t expect him to do the right thing. He never has so far. But I and a lot of other people are going to make sure there is some push-back, that Ryan can’t keep running this country like it was his personal fiefdom. Sooner or later, some truth is going to have to start coming out of Washington, whether the Republicans are still running it or not.
Donald Trump was elected, not only by a mere sliver of the electorate, but by the lowest common denominator of the American public, a group of know-nothings who never read a newspaper or encounter a scientific fact and who have been carefully cultivated by the leaders of the Republican Party. May history be as unkind to them – and Paul Ryan – as they have been to the American people and their genuine friends around the world.