House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) caused a minor stir online yesterday with a curious blog post honoring the “extraordinary men and women” who died on the 4th of July. No one seems to know exactly who the Republican leader was referring to.
But far more important was the online stir Donald Trump caused over the holiday weekend with his promotion of anti-Semitic imagery through Twitter. Ryan, not surprisingly, heard about the controversy, and as the Wall Street Journal reported, he expressed his dissatisfaction.
Mr. Ryan said Mr. Trump’s campaign needs to “clean up” its use of social media after Mr. Trump’s Twitter account on Saturday posted, then later deleted, an image of Mrs. Clinton next to a six-pointed red star interpreted by many as a Star of David, which is closely associated with Judaism.“Look, anti-Semitic images, they’ve got no place in presidential campaigns. Candidates should know that,” Mr. Ryan said Tuesday on a Wisconsin radio show hosted by Charlie Sykes. “I don’t know what flunky put this up there, they obviously gotta fix that.”Regardless of who posted the tweet, Mr. Trump’s campaign needs to manage its social media, including Twitter, more carefully, said Mr. Ryan, who has endorsed Mr. Trump for president.
The GOP Speaker specifically said, “My understanding is this is done by staff, not by he himself, but more importantly, they’ve got to clean this thing up.”
OK, but if they don’t?
By my count, this was the fifth time Ryan has publicly admonished Trump and/or the Trump campaign, but each instance has come with the same caveat: the Wisconsin congressman won’t withdraw his support for the controversial presidential candidate.
When Trump hedged on denouncing support from white supremacists, Ryan denounced the candidate’s comments – but said he’ll support his party’s presidential nominee anyway.
When Trump took steps to encourage violence at his campaign rallies, Ryan denounced the candidate’s actions – but said he’ll support his party’s presidential nominee anyway.
When Trump raised the prospect of violence at the Republicans’ national convention, Ryan denounced the remarks – but said he’ll support his party’s presidential nominee anyway.
When Trump used racist rhetoric to criticize a federal judge, Ryan denounced the comments – but said he’ll support his party’s presidential nominee anyway.
With this in mind, I don’t doubt that Ryan would like to see Team Trump “fix” what’s broken and “clean this thing up,” but the broader question for the House Speaker is what he’s prepared to do if Trump and his campaign fail to heed Ryan’s advice.
If the answer is “nothing,” as appears to be the case, then the Speaker should probably keep his expectations for improvement low.