Editorial: Paul Ryan degenerates into an unapologetic partisan hack

Not so long ago, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., had at least some aura of integrity. He resisted Donald Trump’s candidacy nearly down to the wire, going so far as to say the GOP was not Trump’s party.

Ryan appeared to have principles. We disagreed with him on nearly all the issues, but at least we believed that he believed in the positions he took.

That was another Paul Ryan ago.

Now he’s toeing the line on the most egregious of Trump’s avalanche of executive orders — the travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries.

In supporting Trump’s self-serving act of religious discrimination, Ryan sold out not only his previously stated values, but also those of the Constitution. The time to begin organizing his ouster from Congress next year is now

Hypocrisy

Here’s what Ryan had to say last summer when Trump claimed that the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando validated his call for a ban on Muslims: “Muslims are our partners,” he responded. “The vast, vast majority of Muslims in this country and around the world are moderate. They’re peaceful. They’re tolerant. So they’re among our best allies, among our best resources in this fight.”

He told former radio host Charlie Sykes that he hated even talking about Trump’s anti-Muslim comments for fear of giving them credence.

“This is not the U.S. Constitution,” he said. “This is not the U.S. Bill of Rights. Let’s just be really clear about this.”

So when Trump slammed the door on the hands of Muslim travelers who were opening it legally, Ryan’s professed values should have prompted him to lash out. Instead, he did a back flip and supported the move.

“What is happening is something we support,” Ryan said to reporters after hundreds of travelers were imprisoned in U.S. airports, setting off protests and demonstrations.

“We need to pause and we need to make sure that the vetting standards are up to snuff so we can guarantee the safety and security of our country,” said the new Ryan.

But as he well knows, our vetting standards for visas are already rigorous. When asked what Trump’s administration would do differently than what’s already being done, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus gave the vague answer that we need to ask “more questions” of travelers who lived in or traveled through the seven designated countries.

Based on the way Trump’s immigration order is written, it would kill tourism to the U.S. and make it difficult for foreign heads of state, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to enter the country.

Potential corruption at the highest level

Beyond his tortuous flip-flop on the merits, Ryan should have done a double-take when the list of banned countries was revealed. What do Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen have in common besides Muslim majorities? Donald Trump has no business interests in any of them, and no terrorist attacks have been committed on U.S. soil by citizens of those nations.

But he’s deeply involved in other countries in the region that escaped his ban.

He overlooked Turkey, even though the State Department last month issued a travel warning for that country, citing “increased threats from terrorist groups.”

Trump is licensing his name to two luxury towers in Istanbul. An FEC filing reported his income from that deal is between $1 million and $5 million.

Also not included in the ban is the United Arab Emirates, where Trump is building a golf course. And, even though Trump blamed Saudi Arabia for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he’s still doing business there, according to FEC filings.

All of this means that in addition to supporting an executive order that belies the philosophical foundations on which our nation was founded, Ryan also is looking the other way while issues of potential corruption arise at the highest level of government.

The Trump “revolution” was supposed to be about punishing entrenched elected officials for putting their partisanship and their self-interests ahead of their duties. Now it’s up to voters in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District to get rid of the hypocritical partisan pawn who claims to serve them in the House.

The curtain has come down on Ryan’s pose of sincerity. He serves his party above all else.