Every year, the competition is fierce for there are many deserving celebrities and politicians. Previous winners have included filmmaker Michael Moore, former House Speakers John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, former President Barack Obama and former New Orleans Mayor, current federal inmate, Ray Nagin.
We have recognized both Republicans and Democrats, men and women. Last year, then Mayor of New Orleans Mitch Landrieu was the consensus choice by placing his selfish political aspirations over the well-being of his city. He removed historic monuments without a vote of the people and used the issue to garner national publicity, while ignoring long standing problems such as crime, drainage and streets.
This year, our radio listeners nominated several dozen individuals and groups, all with outstanding credentials to become our Ringside Politics Turkey of the Year. Nevertheless, the clear winner with the most votes and the best choice for our 2018 award is House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Ryan is a moderate Republican who has been a very weak House Speaker. Ever since Donald Trump burst upon the political scene, Ryan has relished opportunities to appear before the media and make critical comments. After Trump’s 2005 “locker room” comments to Access Hollywood host Billy Bush were improperly released to the public, Ryan told fellow Republicans that he would no longer “defend Trump.” Thereafter, he cancelled a joint appearance with Trump, claiming he was “sickened” by the comments. Instead of standing by his party’s presidential candidate and condemning the media for releasing a tape that was secretly recorded, this so-called GOP leader abandoned his party’s presidential nominee.
Of course, President Trump achieved victory without any help from Ryan. In fact, he has been working to “Make America Great Again” without much assistance from the top congressional leader of the Republican Party. Ryan has not championed many of the major issues on the President’s agenda such as the funding of a border wall, even though it was a prime reason why Republicans won control of Congress in the 2016 election.
It was no surprise when Ryan deserted his party and his colleagues by announcing his retirement from Congress several months before the end of his term. An honorable man would have immediately resigned, allowing his party an opportunity to select another House Speaker before the mid-term elections. Instead, Ryan remained in place, offering no leadership and withholding funding from candidates who were involved in close races. The result was a bloodbath for the House Republicans as Democrats took back control of the House and won close to 40 new seats.
Ryan’s leadership was pathetic and his fundraising for GOP candidates was anemic. While finding little time to show support for President Trump and his agenda, Ryan never missed opportunities to blast his Commander-in-Chief. For example, in the aftermath of the President’s controversial comments at the news conference following the Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ryan eagerly offered his criticism. He was upset that Trump was reluctant to accept the findings of U.S. intelligence services, the same groups which had surveilled a member of his campaign team during and after the 2016 election.
As the caravan of migrants headed toward the U.S. border, the President expressed his support to use executive action to eliminate birthright citizenship for children of illegal aliens. Ryan criticized the idea and said it was akin to what Barack Obama did as President. In response, President Trump fumed that “Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about!”
Sadly, Ryan did not focus on holding the House in this mid-term election, so now the next Speaker will be liberal Democrat Nancy Pelosi. The blame for this debacle does not rest with President Trump, who won major victories for several Republican U.S. Senate candidates, but directly with Paul Ryan who leaves his post with few victories and leaves his party in a weakened position. Clearly, Paul Ryan is the right choice for our 2018 Ringside Politics Turkey of the Year.
Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, “Ringside Politics,” airs locally at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and at 10:00 p.m. Sundays on PBS affiliate WLAE-TV, Channel 32, and from 7-11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America's Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on www.JeffCrouere.com. For more information, email him at [email protected]