As Meghan McCain was settling into her role as a defender of every myth about Paul Ryan, that he's a visionary leader and defender of modern conservatism, Matthew Dowd attempted to disavow her of her quaint notions of what he's really all about, saying that Ryan is basically a company guy, fulfilling whatever role for power the Republican Party wanted him at the time. Ross Douthat had made the same sort of argument, yesterday (Paul Ryan, Party Man).
He was miscast as a visionary when he was fundamentally a party man — a diligent and policy-oriented champion for whatever the institutional G.O.P. appeared to want, a pilot who ultimately let the party choose the vessel’s course. And because the institutional G.O.P. during his years was like a bayou airboat with a fire in its propeller and several alligators wrestling midship, an unhappy end for his career was all-but-foreordained.
McCAIN: I will say when you're talking about people like Paul Ryan, though, the vilification of Paul Ryan fascinates me, because it happened for such a long period of time. He was someone who was going to throw grandmothers over the cliff. During the 2012 election, people were saying things like he would take away women's birth control. And when you vilify a man like Paul Ryan, you can't deny that it lead to the rise of President Trump, because I think a lot of voters looked at this and said if this nice Wisconsin Jack Kemp conservative is just trying to do good things on Capitol Hill, if he is the enemy and he's awful, then we'll send in a guy like President Trump.
DOWD: But that's Paul Ryan's -- Paul Ryan's history. And I have some familiarity with Paul Ryan's history, having him having been in congress while Bush was president, has been a fluctuating thing.
Paul Ryan was a compassionate conservative when George Bush was president. The Tea Pary then started taking office, he shifted towards the Tea Party, then when he didn't think President Trump, or then-candidate Trump was going to win, he attacked President -- candidate Trump. President Trump wins, he enables President Trump in the course of the presidency.
So, Paul Ryan really actually to my view has been revealed -- Donald Trump has corrupted Paul Ryan, Paul Ryan has been revealed for who he is, which is he -- he's a company guy. He does whatever power wants.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Maggie, they were never that close, although they certainly were together -- another understatement. [LAUGHTER]
McCain continued at the very end of the segment with this. Her confused expression spoke volumes.
McCAIN: But would you rather have the Republican Party of Paul Ryan or Trump? I mean, that's the question right now.
DOWD: There's no choice, it's the Republican Party of Donald Trump, which is why Paul Ryan is leaving.
And with that, Dowd reveals a simple truth that people like Meghan McCain somehow fail to grasp. Paul Ryan was never a leader at all, just a party functionary. And without any real power himself, a guy like Paul Ryan no longer has any relevance in Washington. No juice, in the stupidity of corporate-speak. With Trump in power, he's reached the glass ceiling of his career, and that makes him redundant. So it's adios, Paul.