"I want my daughter to grow up in a country, she's 15 years old, where she is empowered and respected wherever she goes and wherever she works in whatever she does." That's Paul Ryan, in an interview with Steve Inskeep of Morning Edition that was aired last Friday morning. I had just dropped my 12 year old granddaughter off at school.
Inskeep has just asked Ryan about the charges of sexual harassment that are being made against members of Congress and Ryan's coming out strong on the absolute necessity of holding people accountable. "[N]owhere should that be more obvious and apparent than working here in Capitol Hill," he says. "[W]e should set ourselves to standards that we expect of other people and we should set high standards for ourselves so that we can be role models and set examples..." That's the kind of thing you want to hear from the Speaker of the House, isn't it?
Inskeep mentions that Ryan called on Roy Moore to withdraw from the Senate race. Ryan is quick and firm in his response, "That's because I believe those allegations are credible." And then, of course Inskeep says (and didn't you see this coming, Paul?), "What is the difference between his case and the case of President Trump, who was also accused by a number of women and also denied it?"
Ryan stutters, slightly, but recovers quickly. He's focused on Congress, he says. He hasn't spent time "reviewing the difference" in the two cases, he says.
Inskeep presses, referring to a speech Ryan gave in 2012, supporting Mitt Romney and talking about his high character being above reproach. Inskeep wants to know if Ryan believes the President is meeting that high standard. But Ryan's back on firm ground now. He says it's no secret that he's had his differences with the President,
"But what I see is a president who is fighting for the things that I'm fighting for. I see a president who's fighting for an agenda that will make a positive difference in people's lives. Is this president unconventional? No two ways about it. He's very unconventional. But if we make good by the American people by actually improving their lives and fixing problems and finding solutions that are bothering them, that's a good thing."
The strong comments about setting high standards and being role models and being held accountable have wisped away as if they'd never been said. Trump is merely "unconventional." And since he's helping Ryan get what Ryan wants, a little "unconventionality" is just fine.
He's certainly setting an example. So is his President.
I wonder what the 15 year old thinks of her Dad when she listens to him dodge and dissemble like that.
I wonder if he worries about it.