This was, of course, a seeming inevitability. Thursday afternoon, House Speaker Paul Ryan finally broke down and endorsed Donald Trump for president.
Well, “endorsed” may be the wrong word, mainly because Ryan never once used it.
In an op-ed for his hometown newspaper the Janesville Gazette (a decidedly quieter venue than CNN, where Ryan made known his initial doubts concerning Trump’s candidacy), Ryan announced to the world that he would vote for Donald Trump. The “E” word, however, makes no appearance in either the op-ed or in Ryan’s subsequent tweet regarding the announcement. Ryan’s aides clarified that the piece could be construed as an endorsement, but the fact that Ryan himself never uttered the word does carry some importance.
Even more important, however, is Ryan’s reasoning for supporting Trump. At no point in the article does the Speaker praise any of Trump’s qualities or policy positions, apart from his Supreme Court nominee list. Indeed, Ryan draws more attention to the differences between himself and Trump than to any one area where the pair’s ideologies coalesce. Instead, however, Ryan expresses that he only came to the conclusion that he would support the Republican nominee once he became convinced that Trump would support the ideas and agenda driven by the Speaker, not vice versa.
Ryan’s announcement seems to come less from a place of newfound support for Trump and more from submission. It exists in stark contrast to Marco Rubio’s glowing endorsement, where “Little Marco” offered his services as a speaker at the convention and seemed to stop just short of naming which season of The Apprentice was his favorite. But as the de facto political leader of the Republican Party (for the time being anyway), Ryan has an obligation to Republican members of Congress to do what is necessary to maintain control of the House. Indirectly encouraging some voters to stay home by not lending support to the party nominee would have been an exceedingly costly political move. Courageous, but costly.
So Paul Ryan’s announcement does disappoint me. But I will try not hold it against him.