Paul Ryan pivots towards Hillary


Geopolitical notes from India
M D Nalapat
THAT the 2016 Presidential elections in the US will have immense consequences for that country is clear. Although Democratic Party nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton is close to Wall Street and to such lobbies as the Big Pharma industry, her hold over the rank and file is too shaky to permit her to replicate Bill Clinton’s open embrace of Wall Street (for example, by repealing Glass-Steagal and by converting US embassies abroad into Chambers of Commerce lobbying units). For what is most precious to her, political survival, she will have to often tack leftwards if elected President on November 8, including in the matter of appointments.
Winning control of the White House through the success of the chosen Republican Party nominee (Donald John Trump) ought to be a priority for the party leadership in particular. Hence it was a surprise when a heavy blow was dealt to Republican nominee Donald John Trump by the senior most political official of his own party, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan. The Speaker publicly washed his hands off Trump, in effect conceding the election to Hillary Clinton. This embrace of a Clinton White House by Ryan replaced mention of Bill Clinton’s indiscretions and email exchanges from Team Hillary that showed the nominee to in effect be a Republican in Democratic Party garb. The Ryan defection from the Trump camp to what is effectively the Clinton camp will have at least a 3% impact in voting behaviour, thereby making the task of securing victory much more difficult for Trump. Speaker Ryan was being disingenuous when he asked his party cadres to pivot from the Presidential to lower rung campaigns, such as those for US Senate and House of Representatives. The politician is experienced enough to know that the public separation of House Speaker from his own party nominee would lead to confusion across entire list of Republican Party candidates, and yet he went ahead.
Of course, earlier the entire George H W Bush family, including former President George W Bush and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, publicly opposed Trump and walked across to the Clinton tent. Numerous other Republican office-holders did the same in a carefully choreographed way designed to show that Donald Trump was being abandoned by his own party Conversations with leadership elements within the United States Republican Party (GOP) show a consensus that “Establishment Republicans” close to the financial, oil and pharma industries secured and leaked the videotape of Donald John Trump making racy comments about women to a co-passenger on a bus in 2005. Their expectation was that the release would so shame Trump that he would quit from the Presidential race, thereby leaving the path clear for the candidate they secretly back, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who herself is close to Wall Street as well as to the pharma industry, although not as much so to the oil industry, whose Patron Saint in US politics still George H W Bush and his family. It was a disaster for oilmen in Houston that Jeb Bush failed to qualify in the Republican Party primaries despite hundreds of millions of dollars getting spent promoting his candidacy. Just as in India, where there is growing public anger at the cosy club of political leaders cutting across party lines who enrich and protect each other, within the US, “establishment” politicians are loathed in a manner more profound than at any time since the 18th century. It was just such a public mood that fuelled the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, although the Vermont Senator deflated himself by refusing to “take the fight to the Convention” the way he had sworn to his supporters. Far from such a challenge, Sanders very soon became another of the several dozen Clinton surrogates, singing his erstwhile rival’s praises with such verve that his supporters were left cringing and ashamed.
However, there is method in the Sanders “surrender”, for should Hillary Clinton get elected, the Vermont Senator is likely to push her hard towards policies other than those that have made the Clintons multi-millionaires despite having come from humble roots. The sincerity of Sanders towards his socialist ideology cannot be doubted. However, more and more emails are being released that show that Hillary Clinton is not at all sincere about implementing the policies she claims to support on the stump. The emails also show that only the gargantuan Clinton machine ensured that Hillary Clinton got anointed as her party’s nominee despite low levels of grassroots support The power of Wall Street can be gauged by the fawning manner in which much of the “free” US media have backed Hillary Clinton.
CNN, for example, has run days of programming on the Trump “groping” tape, with its anchors letting go of horrified exclamations every few minutes. If the moral outrage of the channel’s anchors and correspondents at what were standard locker room boasts by Trump is real, it is clear that CNN is recruiting its staff from nunneries, as anchor after anchor swore on camera that he or she had never come across any of the admittedly tawdry epithets mouthed in private by Donald Trump in 2005. The channel also went to extreme lengths to concoct alibis for Hillary Clinton by pointing to technicalities and ignoring substantive points in the several tranches of leaked emails, which included references to mutual consultations between the Clinton campaign and the US Justice Department. This columnist was probably the first (in third week of May 2015,before Trump announced his candidacy, followed by a July 2015 column on the subject in this newspaper) to predict a Trump win, a forecast that he still stands by.
Hillary Clinton has been in politics too long to offer change, which is why Barack Hussein Obama defeated her in the Democratic Party primaries in 2008 and why Donald Trump (who is clearly neither a politician or a diplomat) is likely to prevail over her next month, despite the numerous darts that the Clinton machine has aimed at the construction magnate, including from within his own party. The months ahead will show that Paul Ryan’s meteoric career has been damaged beyond repair by his pivot towards Hillary Clinton. Whether he wins or loses, most of the Republican Party base will not forgive Ryan his “betrayal” of the candidate who was chosen over his rivals by the grassroots base of the party during the past year.
—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.