In his weekly press briefing Thursday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said something truly breathtakingly hypocritical. He said the Democratic sit in turned the House floor into a “war zone,” and, worried, he said, about “precedent,” claimed that “If we turn the floor into a partisan war zone, there’s no chance left for bipartisanship.”
According to Ryan,
“We are the oldest democracy in the world. We operate under the Constitution and the legislative branch of government, where we are supposed to debate our rules, our laws, our reforms civilly, with rules and laws. If we break those rules, how can we have civilized democracy?”
Good question. As one of the GOP’s chief architects of that civilized democracy’s destruction, Ryan ought to know the answer. His is the party that decided, even before President Obama took office, that there would be no bipartisanship during his term. As former Ohio Senator George Voinovich put it, “If he was for it, we had to be against it.”
And Paul Ryan was one of those who made the decision to obstruct the new president. As Frontline reported in 2013,
On the night of Barack Obama’s inauguration, a group of top GOP luminaries quietly gathered in a Washington steakhouse to lick their wounds and ultimately create the outline of a plan for how to deal with the incoming administration.
“The room was filled. It was a who’s who of ranking members who had at one point been committee chairmen, or in the majority, who now wondered out loud whether they were in the permanent minority,” Frank Luntz, who organized the event, told FRONTLINE.
Among them were Senate power brokers Jim DeMint, Jon Kyl and Tom Coburn, and conservative congressmen Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan.
After three hours of strategizing, they decided they needed to fight Obama on everything. The new president had no idea what the Republicans were planning.
And yet here we had Ryan yesterday, hypocritically lambasting Democrats by saying,
“[I]f we turn the floor of the House of Representatives into a partisan war zone complete with tweeting, Periscoping electronic devices, then we have eviscerated any vestige of bipartisanship, any place or chance for Republicans and Democrats to actually come together and talk to each other, to actually get to know each other.”
Apparently, plotting to say “no” to everything the president proposes without debating its merits is okay, as is sabotaging the president’s foreign policy behind his back, even though the Founding Fathers intended the House to have little say in Foreign Policy. Ryan says a lot of things, makes a lot of claims, but none of his rules seem to apply to him or his fellow Republicans.
Ryan complains about the precedent set by the sit in. How about the precedent of gathering together and deciding to obstruct an incoming president before even hearing his plans? When Ryan concludes that “if we turn the floor into a partisan war zone, then there is no chance left for any kind of comity or bipartisanship,” he is being the worst kind of hypocrite, because he is one of those who decided, even before President Obama stepped into the White House, to block and obstruct President Obama.
It is Paul Ryan himself who put an end to any hope of bipartisanship for as long as Obama held office. Of all the people in Congress, he (along with Mitch McConnell) have the least right to complain about incivility or attacks on bipartisanship.
Ryan should be ashamed of himself, but then, in even saying such a thing, Ryan has shown he has no more shame than he does integrity.