This morning the Republican House Speaker called out his party’s presidential frontrunner for being cagey about repudiating the KKK.
“If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party there can be no evasion and no games,” Paul Ryan said. “They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry. This party does not prey on people’s prejudices.”
It’s worth noting that this is not a point of consensus within conservative politics. When Mitt Romney condemned Donald Trump for the same sin yesterday, influential figures like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham lined up behind Trump.
But actions rather than words will determine whether the GOP leadership’s sudden embrace of racial glasnost reflects a genuine recognition that the party has been too solicitous of Trumpism, or whether it’s simply a cynical attempt to put some distance between Trump and the GOP brand.
For instance: Ryan—who used to describe a partisan division between “makers and takers,” and once bemoaned a “tailspin of culture” in American inner cities—has the power to place legislation on the House floor to fix the Voting Rights Act. He can beseech his state’s governor, Scott Walker, to reverse his position on Wisconsin’s voter ID law. He can call on his own whip, Rep. Steve Scalise, who once described himself as “David Duke without the baggage,” to step down from House leadership. He can ... wait, Mr. Speaker? Hello? [dialtone]