The glee was palpable in the right-wing corners of the internet and media at the news that House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, was leaving at the end of the year. There, Ryan’s departure was greeted not with hand-wringing but celebration, as if it were a Super Bowl victory.
“We WILL NOT miss Paul Ryan,” one Twitter user with more than 20,000 followers bellowed this week. “President Trump is the one who truly loves this country, who loves the people of this country, and we give ZERO flying flips what you think.”
“GOOD RIDDANCE,” Trump loyalist and Fox News commentator Sebastian Gorka thundered on Twitter.
The reaction to Ryan’s departure from the right is not surprising. Democrats, too, have excoriated Ryan for not standing up to Trump’s extreme comments and outrages. But he’s won no friends from the president’s supporters for his silence, despite his crucial role in what Trump cites as his major legislative victory, enactment of tax legislation.
Indeed, Trump boosters have long seen the Wisconsin politician as, in the words of a Breitbart News report from Tuesday, “the leader of the globalist wing of the Republican Party.” From this position, Ryan’s departure is Trump’s win.
Breitbart led the charge with two articles on Tuesday following the announcement. The first — “9 Times Paul Ryan Put American Workers Last, Foreigners First” — documented Ryan’s “pro-immigration, wage-crushing, big business-first record, whereby American workers have been left behind by multinational free trade and mass immigration.”
The same theme — the abandoned America worker — wove through a second piece, “Paul Ryan’s Globalist Legacy: Ignoring America’s Working Class at the Behest of Billionaire Koch Brothers.” The article went on to argue the speaker would leave “behind a legacy that ignored America’s working and middle class, while serving up an agenda favored by billionaires Charles and David Koch.”
The right-wing Gateway Pundit offered speculation about Ryan’s motives in “GOP Lawmaker Suspects Paul Ryan Leaving Congress To Salvage Reputation Ahead Of Possible Presidential Run.” The piece prominently featured a photograph of the speaker with former President Barack Obama.
Fox News also picked up the signals emanating from Ryan’s exit. Host Laura Ingraham, still losing sponsors for ridiculing a student who survived the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, addressed Ryan’s announcement Tuesday night by contrasting the speaker with the president.
“The two of them represent opposing strains of conservatism in some sense,” Ingraham told viewers. “One, the free trade, more interventionist, establishment. That’s Paul Ryan. And the other, a more America first populism. That’s Trump. The speaker’s departure is a clear sign in my mind that Trump’s vision, not Ryan’s, is the future of the party.”
Trump supporters online were more full-throated in their dismissal of the speaker.
“Paul Ryan is a bought-out globalist that went from opposing Trump to a supposed ally that’s done nothing but stall the America First agenda,” one posted.
“Paul Ryan’s retirement signals that the establishment GOP are no different than the Dems & are losing their grip on power. American people have had enough of globalist rule,” a second said.
“After That Outrageous Omnibus Bill Paul Ryan Put Out THAT DIDN’T FUND THE WALL & SUPPORTED ILLEGAL ALIENS AND OPEN BORDERS I Say, See Ya And I’m Not Gonna Miss Ya!!!,” a third wrote.
The mood was equally buoyant on r/The Donald, the Reddit page dedicated to pro-Trump memes and rants.
“Trump is winning!!! Ryan steps down,” a poster wrote. “The good guys are winning.”
Outside the Trump base and its media organs, only one other person seemed to be pulling the same energy out of Ryan’s retirement: Randy Bryce, the mustachioed ironworker running as a Democrat for Ryan’s Wisconsin congressional seat.
“WE JUST REPEALED PAUL RYAN,” Bryce announced. “Now it’s time to replace him.”
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