O’Donnell: Paul Ryan Worst, Least Effective House Speaker in History

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell has a reputation as a liberal bomb thrower (and hater of hammering). And during Wednesday’s edition of The Last Word, he had his claws out for House Speaker Paul Ryan who earlier that day announced he was retiring.

According to the MSNBC host, Ryan was a worse speaker than pedophile Dennis Hastert and the pre-Civil War speakers who owned slaves; all because “they were all more effective in their job as speaker than Paul Ryan,” who wouldn’t oppose Trump.

O'Donnell insisted that “Paul Ryan is not even close to being the worst person who has been Speaker of the House.” But with that out of the way, O’Donnell maligned Ryan as lower than the low in our society:

Pedophile Dennis Hastert served eight years as the Republican speaker of the house, only to be revealed in his retirement to be a criminal. And before the Civil War, of course, we had slave owning as speakers of the House. But they were all more effective in their job as speaker than Paul Ryan.

O’Donnell kicked off his diatribe by mocking how “Donald Trump has destroyed Paul Ryan's life.“And as Paul Ryan so clearly realizes, Donald Trump is on his way to destroying Republican control of the House of Representatives,” he continued. “The big blue wave is looking so big, so overwhelming to Paul Ryan that he has formally publically finally given up even pretending he might run for re-election to Wisconsin House seat.

And so, Paul Ryan will take his seat as simply the worst of this country's speakers of the House of Representatives,” O’Donnell declared. He asserted that Ryan had “earned that place in history” because of his “unrelenting cowardice” in not using his power to stand up against President Trump, who was out of control.

But Paul Ryan surrendered all of his powers to the Trump presidency. Previous speakers of the House have relished their powers over the president, have turned the presidents into beggars for legislative favors,” he bemoaned. It was completely hypocritical because O’Donnell would whine when the Ryan controlled House would oppose President Obama.

 

O’Donnell lambasted Ryan for looking “into his political soul and [finding] nothing. Nothing but weakness and subservience when faced with a President Donald Trump and rampant Trumpism in the House of Representatives.

After O’Donnell had gone off on Ryan for comparing his retirement to that of Tip O’Neil, he besmirched Ryan’s credibility as an economic policy wonk. “I never fell for the Washington media picture of Paul Ryan as a real policy wonk because I know that very few members of the House or the Senate actually qualify for that description on any subject,” he chided.

According to the bitter O’Donnell, “Paul Ryan had done a better job than most Republicans at memorizing policy talking points.” And as an underhanded compliment, he admitted “every once in a great while he actually showed a tiny bit of hope that he might actually be thinking about policy.

This kind of vilification is what’s breaking down the civil discourse in America. O’Donnell couldn’t just criticize Ryan on policy. He had to go for the lowest of blows and suggest Ryan was beneath a pedophile and slave owners. Disgusting.

The relevant portions of the transcript are below, click "expand" to read: 

 

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MSNBC's The Last Word
April 11, 2018
10:01 PM Eastern

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: Well, Donald Trump has destroyed Paul Ryan's life. And as Paul Ryan so clearly realizes, Donald Trump is on his way to destroying Republican control of the House of Representatives. The big blue wave is looking so big, so overwhelming to Paul Ryan that he has formally publically finally given up even pretending he might run for re-election to Wisconsin House seat.

And so Paul Ryan will take his seat as simply the worst of this country's speakers of the House of Representatives. And he has earned that place in history through unrelenting cowardice of the speaker of the House. An office that is constitutionally capable of containing and controlling an out of control president. But Paul Ryan surrendered all of his powers to the Trump presidency. Previous speakers of the house have relished their powers over the president, have turned the presidents into beggars for legislative favors.

But Paul Ryan looked into his political soul and found nothing. Nothing but weakness and subservience when faced with a President Donald Trump and rampant Trumpism in the House of Representatives. Paul Ryan is not even close to being the worst person who has been speaker of the house. Pedophile Dennis Hastert served eight years as the Republican speaker of the house, only to be revealed in his retirement to be a criminal. And before the Civil War, of course, we had slave owning as speakers of the House. But they were all more effective in their job as speaker than Paul Ryan.

Last Word viewers have known since December 14, 2017, that Paul Ryan was not going to run for reelection to his seat. That was the night I announced it for Paul Ryan at this hour simply because he refused to deny a Politico story that day that he was thinking about not running for reelection. A speaker never does that. A speaker can never allow any doubt about that. Allowing that doubt, that doubt that he might not run for reelection is the same thing as just announcing that you're not going to run. And so it was very easy for me to say back in December, with certainty, that Paul Ryan was not going to run.

And today, when he finally said it, he actually had the audacity to compare himself to one of the most successful and beloved speakers in history.

(…)

And I am one of the many congressional observers who is deeply disappointed in Paul Ryan. I never fell for the Washington media picture of Paul Ryan as a real policy wonk because I know that very few members of the House or the Senate actually qualify for that description on any subject. They are always guided by their staffs on policy. The staffs always know more than the elected members. But Paul Ryan had done a better job than most Republicans at memorizing policy talking points and every once in a great while he actually showed a tiny bit of hope that he might actually be thinking about policy.

(…)


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