New York Times reporter Julie Hirschfeld Davis delivered a not-particularly friendly farewell to House Speaker and former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin in Thursday’s edition, “Ryan Laments ‘Broken’ Politics That Helped Cut His Speakership Short.” Ryan is retiring from the House at the end of this term. The story is notable for ideological labeling that’s severely slanted even for a Times story, with the prefix “ultra” dropped on Republicans no less than three times in this one report:
Speaker Paul D. Ryan, the self-styled conservative thought leader who struggled to govern in the era of President Trump, declared on Wednesday that politics in America is “broken,” sounding a parting message of alarm about the outrage-fueled discourse of the day even as his exit from Congress seemed to underscore it.
Davis, a political reporter, came right out and called the tax cuts passed in 2018 a “dubious accomplishment” because they will allegedly increase the federal deficit (which the paper only pretends to care about when Republicans call for tax cuts):
Mr. Ryan, a former vice-presidential nominee from Wisconsin, reluctantly accepted the mantle of House speaker in 2015 after House Republican hard-liners torched his predecessor, John A. Boehner. He used his farewell address to defend his brief record and burnish a legacy of dubious accomplishment. Those achievements include the enactment of large tax cuts that fulfilled the fondest dreams of Republicans, especially the significant lowering of corporate tax rate, but they left in their wake an enormous and growing federal deficit that Mr. Ryan once viewed as a nightmare.
Davis panned “ultraconservatives” who prize “battling over governing” and who lovce stoking the “outrage machine”:
Intentionally or not, it served to highlight, in the waning hours of all-Republican rule on Capitol Hill, how the party has changed since Mr. Ryan -- a proud member of the Republican establishment, known for his zeal for overhauling entitlements -- was viewed as one of its most promising rising stars. With Mr. Trump in the White House, Mr. Ryan’s strain of Republicanism is seen as a liability and an object of disdain from the party’s ultraconservative base, which prizes partisan battling over governing and regards legislative negotiating as weak capitulation.
Many of the House members from that base are integral parts of the outrage machine, taking their turns before the Fox News cameras and committee microphones to amp up their messaging. And Mr. Ryan did little to rein them in.
How many “ultraconservatives” does one report really require:
When Mr. Gowdy was being attacked by Tea Party activists in 2011 for supporting measures to keep the government funded over the objections of a band of ultraconservative Republicans who refused to do so without spending cuts, he said Mr. Ryan had volunteered to call his detractors and try to reason with them.
And the third “ultra” referred to Trump’s supposedly partisan style:
Yet those same dynamics gave outsize influence to members of the Tea Party-fueled House Freedom Caucus, who took down Mr. Boehner and were a constant thorn in Mr. Ryan’s side, refusing to vote for spending measures or other legislation its members deemed insufficiently conservative. Their power only grew with the election of Mr. Trump, whose hard-line immigration policies and ultrapartisan style matched their own.
Davis also tried to wave Trump and the GOP off the “damaging” immigration issue:
“In order to truly enforce the law, you have to get people right with the law,” Mr. Ryan said, pointedly suggesting that the debate over immigration, the issue that powered Mr. Trump’s political rise, was having a damaging effect on the politics of the moment.
Davis prefers liberal figures, like Michelle Obama, who she has praised effusively in several news stories including this one, in which she gushed "Republicans, who thought nothing of attacking Mrs. Obama in 2008, now shy away from doing so, a testament to her popularity and appeal." Obama’s send-off from the White House was several hundred degrees warmer than the goodbye Ryan received from Davis upon leaving Congress: “We’re almost at the end!” she exclaimed with a broad smile, but also the wistfulness of a person preparing to leave behind a role in which she had come to thrive.”