While America has been riveted to the swirl of controversy around Donald Trump, and Trump’s apparent decision to fight back against that controversy by accusing Bill Clinton of being a serial rapist, House Speaker Paul Ryan wants to talk about … health insurance.
He’s been going at it for hours:
Ryan is, obviously, in a difficult position this week. The congressional party that he leads is badly divided on the question of Trump’s fitness to hold office, which is awkward for every single member of Ryan’s caucus but agonizingly difficult for the man who needs to lead the caucus. Simply ignoring the leading political issue of the day in favor of some least common denominator Republicanism is an appealing alternative.
But changing the conversation is, at this point, totally impossible. It just seems bizarre.
Yet weird as it is, it is very much a window into a plausible alternate reality in which the GOP had nominated a Mike Pence or a Marco Rubio and the election was fundamentally a referendum on the Obama administration’s policy legacy rather than on Trump’s character and temperament. Most Republicans profess confidence that they would be winning such a campaign, though Barack Obama’s high and rising approval ratings seem to say otherwise.