Conversations about sexual misconduct have become a defining part of 2017, largely in part to Trump’s candidacy for president. After he outed himself as a serial harasser and assaulter of women, more than a dozen women came forward to confirm that he had demonstrated that behavior toward them. That sparked a conversation which has only grown in scope throughout the last year.
Many high-profile members of the media and political circles have been brought down by their own sexual misconduct scandals since the wave of outings began. One person who is notably absent from the list of those who have faced consequences is Donald Trump himself. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been highly critical of most people accused of misconduct when asked, including, notably, Roy Moore.
Yet that same disapproval does not seem to extend to Trump, revealing Ryan’s political and moral cowardice. In a recent interview with NPR, he showed his true colors. As HuffPo summarizes:
‘Calling the outpouring of sexual misconduct allegations against power men a “watershed moment in this country,” Ryan said that Congress should “set high standards for ourselves so that we can be role models and set examples.”
‘He then spoke about his decision to call on Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore to bow out of the race. Moore has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by multiple women, including some who said they were teenagers at the time.
‘“I believe those allegations are credible,” Ryan told NPR in an interview that aired Friday. But when asked whether that standard applied to President Donald Trump― who has been accused of sexual harassment by more than a dozen women and was infamously caught on tape bragging about groping― Ryan balked.
‘“I think the Roy Moore — I don’t know if — I’m focused on Congress,” Ryan said. “Roy Moore is trying to come to Congress. My job here as Speaker of the House is to help make sure that Congress is an institution that we’re proud of and that’s what I’m focused on. He’s running for Congress and I think the allegations against him were very very credible.”’
Given another opportunity, he doubled down on his coward’s stance. From the NPR interview:
If “unconventional” means “someone who describes themselves as a person who sexually assaults women,” sure, he’s unconventional. Maybe Speaker Ryan needs a reminder:
Let us be clear: This behavior, as characterized in Trump’s own words and confirmed by over a dozen victims and even more victims, is sexual assault.
Or how about the part where he says “he’s himself, I’m myself and he got elected.” Why yes, Ryan. That’s true. That would also be true of Roy Moore, were he to be elected. Nowhere in that non-answer did he ever bother to address the question, “Is the president meeting that high standard?” Nor does he ever answer what the difference is between the two cases. Instead, he lies and says he hasn’t “spent any time reviewing differences between the two cases.”
The truth is that he has thought of it, and the best thing his cowardly self could come up with was to say “I haven’t thought about it” when confronted.
The truth is that there is no difference. Roy Moore is Donald Trump. Donald Trump is Roy Moore. Roy Moore is seen as more politically vulnerable. You can go to war with Roy Moore and not self-destruct with the Republican base which supports these men and their predatory behavior. Ryan’s message is loud and clear: he doesn’t care about rape or sexual misconduct unless he sees political points to be gained or lost.
It’s sickening. You can watch the NPR interview in full below:
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