Sunday, March 26, 2017


It certainly looks as if President Trump wants Paul Ryan humiliated -- or does it?

Here's a story that's getting a lot of attention right now:
President Donald Trump tweeted a message on Saturday encouraging his followers to watch Judge Jeanine Pirro's show, who opened her show immediately demanding that House Speaker Paul Ryan resign.

The Fox News host kicked off her show, Justice With Judge Jeanine, with her "Opening Statement" segment, which called for Ryan to step down after the GOP's health care bill failed to gain enough votes to continue.

"Paul Ryan needs to step down as speaker of the House," said Pirro, beginning her show. "The reason? He failed to deliver the votes on his health care bill, the one trumpeted to repeal and replace Obamacare. The one that he had seven years to work on. The one he hid under lock and key in the basement of Congress. The one that had to be pulled to prevent the embarrassment of not having enough votes to pass."

"But this bill didn't just fail," she continued. "It failed when Republicans had the House, the Senate, the White House."
Here's the tweet that preceded that by about ten hours:

But if Trump wants to bring Ryan down, why is The New York Times reporting this?
In his private conversations, the president has remained supportive of Mr. Ryan, declining to join in his advisers’ frustrations over how the bill was handled in the House. One adviser described him as still “smitten” with Mr. Ryan.

“I want to thank Paul Ryan. He worked very, very hard,” Mr. Trump said on Friday. “I will tell you that. He worked very, very hard.”

Mr. Trump’s praise for Mr. Ryan seemed to owe, at least in part, to the fact that the speaker had repeatedly kept him informed throughout the negotiations. Mr. Ryan was also exceedingly deferential to the president, casting him for days as the consummate closer and a winner of the highest order. “The president gave his all in this effort,” he said on Friday. “He’s really been fantastic.”
So does the Times have it wrong? Is Trump pretending to be "smitten" by Ryan while not-so-secretly trying to stab him in the back?

I have my doubts about that tweet. It's long been known that Trump doesn't write (or dictate) all of his own tweets. It's possible to determine whether a Trump tweet came from an iPhone or an Android phone by looking at it in Tweetdeck, and it's widely believed that Trump's more inflammatory tweets have been posted on an Android device, while staffers have written the more staid tweets on an iPhone.

But The Guardian noted earlier this month that very Trumpy tweets are now being posted from an iPhone -- at the time of the Guardian story, Trump hadn't used an Android in eleven days, for any kind of tweet. (There'd been pressure on Trump to give up his Android phone, a very insecure Samsung Galaxy S3.)

Well, the Pirro tweet is from an Android device.

But it's true that Trump is using an iPhone for very Trumpy tweets:

So maybe some of the tweets Trump doesn't write are now being sent via Android. Trump aides know that we know the old pattern. Maybe they're trying to mix it up.

That Pirro tweet sure doesn't look like a Trump original. It has no anger. It has no exclamation points. The airtime of the show is carefully rendered as "9:00 P.M." -- the way you'd write it if, unlike Trump, you were used to having your copy read and marked up by professional copy editors.

Trump didn't write that.

It's possible that he' turning against Ryan -- as the Times story notes, " Mr. Trump is also known to grow angrier over time, particularly if faced with public embarrassment."

But I believe Trump has been "smitten" with Ryan. Think about how self-conscious Trump seems to be with regard to his utter lack of policy knowledge. Now think about Ryan's M.O. as a congressman: He's the Great Explainer, the guy who comes to you and says, with a bashful chuckle, "Yeah, this stuff is really complicated, but heck, I'm a nutty policy wonk, so if you have any questions, just ask me." That's the message that bamboozles so many Beltway journalists -- why wouldn't it bamboozle Trump? It would be reassuring -- don't worry if you don't understand it, because it's really only nerds like me who can understand all these crazy details.

The Times story says that Ryan has flattered Trump (“He’s really been fantastic”). And it goes on to tell us that Ryan knows how to echo Trump, a skill mastered by generations of ambitious corporate strivers before him:
On Friday, Mr. Ryan was quick to adopt Mr. Trump’s favored rationale during the health fight, arguing that Republicans had been doing Democrats a grand favor by dismantling President Barack Obama’s health law in the first place and that Democrats would eventually suffer the consequences.

“I’m sure they may be pleased right now,” Mr. Ryan said, but when they see “how bad” things get, “I don’t think they’re going to like that, either.”
So my conclusion is that Trump still likes Ryan -- and somebody else wrote that tweet.

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