WASHINGTON – House Speaker Paul Ryan just can’t stop disputing President Trump on his response to the Charlottesville, Virginia, violence that left a woman dead and dozens injured.
Nine days after white supremacists battled left-wing extremists over the proposed removal of Confederate statues in the streets of the quaint historic Virginia town, Ryan issued a press release and took to Facebook insisting only one side was responsible for the ugly clash that resulted in the vehicular homicide of one and dozens of injuries.
“There are no sides,” he wrote. “There is no other argument. We will not tolerate this hateful ideology in our society.”
Trump has repeatedly condemned the neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists who sought a permit for a rally, but also the non-permit “alt-left” protesters, many of them clad in makeshift shields, carrying sticks and taunting the racists and fascists by throwing rocks, bottles and human excrement their way.
It appears Ryan can’t to let the controversy go – seemingly siding with Democrats who have clung to the issue with more tenacity that the almost forgotten “Russian collusion” charge. Ryan has previously tweeted similar comments three times.
We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity.
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) August 15, 2017
And, if that weren’t enough attention, he took to CNN Monday night in a townhall meeting – from his Wisconsin district where he is facing formidable opposition for re-election in 2018 from within his own Republican Party – to hammer the message home even harder.
Ryan said Trump “messed up in his comments Tuesday.”
He called his reaction to Charlottesville “morally ambiguous and confusing. I thought he needed to do better.”
Ryan’s comments on CNN served to confirm that his earlier post on Facebook was indeed about Trump.
“The immediate condemnations from left, right, and center affirmed that there is no confusion about right and wrong here,” Ryan said in his Facebook post Monday without specifically mentioning Trump. “I still firmly believe this hate exists only on the fringes. But so long as it exists, we need to talk about it. We need to call it what it is. And so long as it is weaponized for fear and terror, we need to confront it and defeat it. That is why we all need to make clear there is no moral relativism when it comes to neo-Nazis. We cannot allow the slightest ambiguity on such a fundamental question.”
He even linked to the announcement about the CNN appearance in his press release and Facebook message.
There’s speculation on Capitol Hill that this latest dig is in preparation for some upcoming legislative affronts to Trump – one of which is almost certainly the absence of border-wall funding in the budget bill that will also raise the debt limit.
Trump supporters on the Hill believe it is designed to push the president into a tough choice – vetoing the bill and, thus, forcing a government shutdown or allowing his signature border security initiative to be stalled or derailed.
When Congress comes back into session in two weeks, it doesn’t leave much time to raise the debt limit, which Trump has approved, but the current plan is not to include the border funding the president expects. In addition, conservatives in the House are concerned the package will not include the promised cutbacks in spending many Republicans, including Trump, promised during the 2016 election campaign.
Ryan has had an uneasy relationship with Trump since last year’s campaign. And it doesn’t appear to be getting any better.
Ryan’s message on Facebook was titled, “Let there be no confusion.”
But there’s bound to be confusion about why Ryan insists on harping on the race issue that has mobilized Democrats, the hard left and the anti-Trump media to the point of near hysteria.
About Charlottesville, which Ryan said he witnessed while on vacation with his family, he commented: “I felt the range of emotions that so many of us did. Anger, bewilderment, sadness. As I said then, the views that fueled this spectacle are repugnant. My hope was that the nation would unite in opposition to this bigotry. The immediate condemnations from left, right, and center affirmed that there is no confusion about right and wrong here.”
But there is clearly a difference of opinion between Ryan and Trump.
He added: “We all need to make clear there is no moral relativism when it comes to neo-Nazis. We cannot allow the slightest ambiguity on such a fundamental question.”
One is left to ponder: Who is it that has not condemned the neo-Nazis? No one, but that’s the accusation by the Democrats against Trump.
“This is a test of our moral clarity,” writes Ryan. “The words we use and the attitudes we carry matter. Yes, this has been a disheartening setback in our fight to eliminate hate. But it is not the end of the story. We can and must do better. We owe it to Heather Heyer, and to all our children.”
Ryan’s comments were met with fierce criticism by commenters on Facebook, including the following:
- “The Nazis, loathsome though they may be, have a right of free speech. They also had a permit to march. The Antifa thugs did not have a permit, and they certainly did not have a right to assault people with mace, clubs and thrown projectiles before the assembly. Antifa turned a simple display of racist do—-baggery into a riot. The president’s statement acknowledged that, why can’t you?”
- “No mention of how poor the city officials and politicians handled the situation that led to her death? No outrage at the clashing protesters BLM and Antifa? Just the KKK. Well I’m sorry Paul, but you continue to disappoint. Maybe soon you will have plenty of time with your family in the mountains.”
- “Why do you only talk about neo-Nazis? Why don’t you talk about Antifa? They seem to be the biggest violence threat. Are you afraid and your political correctness is getting in the way? Quit playing politics and give us straight talk or step down.”
- “If Antifa had turned its back on this stupid march by the neo-Nazis, this would have fizzled out. But no – the left and the press turned this into a violent confrontation. Sounds well-orchestrated to me.”
- “I completely agree, they are a hate group and should be condemned for it. What you and the rest of the politicians fail to say, or are too scared to say, is that the BLM and Antifa are also hate groups that should also be condemned.”