“The president’s new at this. He’s new to government, and so he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between [the Justice Department], FBI and White House. He’s just new to this.”
This was Paul Ryan’s defense of President Trump’s interactions with former FBI Director James Comey. Allow me to clarify that statement, for shortly after making it Ryan explained that he was “not saying it’s an acceptable excuse,” and insisted that the above was “just my observation.” Just when you start thinking Paul Ryan can’t sink any lower…
[Readers: this is the second time in under a month Ryan’s mug has been the featured image on this website. I’m just as sick of it as you.]
Let’s pause and try this in another context: L’il Jimmy’s a freshmen in college. He pledges Alpha Beta Whatever fraternity, and one evening at a party L’il Jimmy plies Darling Suzie with Jaeger bombs until they drunkenly have sex. Thereafter questions arise: Was Suzie an active participant in this encounter? Did she give consent to have sex with L’il Jimmy? Did Jimmy knowingly drug her to obtain an end his penis desired? The following week Big Todd, the head of L’il Jimmy’s frat, defends Jimmy’s actions by stating, “L’il Jimmy’s new at this [college, dating, parties, sex]. He’s just new to this.”
Now, in what direction would the needle on your moral compass spin?
If you think this example is egregious, I agree, but not for the reasons you may be thinking. What’s egregious isn’t the example’s apparent flippancy with sexual assault. Rather, what’s egregious is the defense offered, by both Paul Ryan and hypothetical Big Todd. “He’s new to this” is not an acceptable defense for an 18yo fumbling his way through college dating, and it’s absolutely not an acceptable defense for a 70yo man who—if Comey’s testimony is to be believed—appears to have attempted to obstruct investigations that might damage himself and/or his staff/family members.
(“He’s new to this” is also not an excuse for the huge number of seasoned professionals who surround Trump as members of his administration and who could, at any moment, intervene. Additionally, “He’s new to this” fails to acknowledge the fact that Comey, in his testimony, indicates that he in fact did try and teach Trump about the separation of FBI/DOJ and the White House, clearly to no avail.)
The weird, twisted irony is that on a certain level I think Paul Ryan is absolutely spot-on. (It’s unlikely I’ll ever write such a statement ever again.) I don’t attribute as much mustache-massaging malice to Trump as I do outright stupidity, which can sound a lot like saying, He’s new to this. Still, novelty carries about as much defensive weight as ignorance, especially when you not only should know better (L’il Jimmy), but should know better because you’re 70 years old and the fucking President of America.
I have the suspicion liberals will be up in arms about Comey’s testimony, and more calls will be cried for Trump’s impeachment. To which I say, Save your breath. If you think Paul Ryan is going to lead the House in impeaching Trump I have only one retort—Based upon what? Which part of the “He’s new to this” defense indicates even an inkling of critical thought, to say nothing about attempting to remove Trump from office?? The issue becomes even more staggering if you think that not only a majority in the House but then 67 Senators are going to get in line and oust Trump.
Further, look back at Ryan and other leaders of the Republican Party since they endorsed Trump, and show me what data points you have that give you confidence in their moral rectitude? Where in their handling of Pussygate, the Khans, Trump’s comments about Megyn Kelly’s bloodiness, his stand-by-me approach to Mike Flynn, the Muslim travel ban, his “healthcare” plan, his support of Betsy DeVos…., do you find reasons to substantiate your certainty that his end is imminent? Further, as the GOP apparatus now goes into smear mode against Comey and seeks to twist him into the bad guy, I ask you to give me one example of behavior from a Republican leader that you think indicates a willingness to question Trump’s actions. (And don’t toss out a soundbite from John McCain et al, who are perpetually voicing concern while never actually acting in a manner that indicates concern.)
That’s not a purely rhetorical device—I will honest to god wait for any explanation that fits the bill. However, presuming I’m not going to get one, let me move on to this: at this point impeachment is a fantasy, and engaging in fantasies is not something mature and active participants can afford to do in today’s political climate.
Since occasionally some readers get confused, let me make clear that calling impeachment a fantasy is categorically different from endorsing Trump’s Presidency. Even Paul Ryan knows that Trump’s an insufferable idiot who is redefining what it means to be unqualified for this position. Additionally, calling impeachment a fantasy does not minimize the importance of the various ongoing investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, findings that are obviously vital and essential to our democracy.
Liberals friends: I know that by calling impeachment a fantasy I basically ruined this week’s version of Pod Save America and any number of other programs. You’re welcome—in under ten minutes I’ve saved you hours of listening and reading container-ship-loads of prolonged and self-righteous blathering. With all this new-found free time let me encourage you to do something constructive: call your representatives and express how important healthcare for all is; converse with your families and neighbors about what a fucked up set of priorities Trump’s budget proposal reveals; talk with people who don’t look and think like you about how our refusal to participate in the Paris Climate Accord will destroy our environment and disadvantage us economically. These things and others are deeply, deeply important, and the only way to counterbalance Trump’s intended direction is with action. In other words—engage reality and not fantasy, because right now only one of them matters.