That is why we all need to make clear there is no moral relativism when it comes to neo-Nazis. We cannot allow the slightest ambiguity on such a fundamental question.”
Later, he adds: “This is a test of our moral clarity. The words we use and the attitudes we carry matter. Yes, this has been a disheartening setback in our fight to eliminate hate. But it is not the end of the story. We can and must do better.”
Now, Ryan — and/or Republican — haters will note that nowhere in that statement does the Speaker actually say the words “Donald Trump” or “President Trump.” And they will — and should! — point out that Ryan very publicly disavowed Trump in the wake of the “Access Hollywood” tape
but has pushed the president’s agenda in Congress nonetheless.
All fair. And warranted.
But, it’s also important to note that politics abhors a vacuum. And that people will, inevitably, move to fill such a vacuum. And that is exactly what Ryan is doing here.
As I wrote at the time, Trump’s “on many sides” comments — and then his doubling down two days later — was not solely a political failure but also a moral one
. It wasn’t about what we expect from a Republican. It was about what we expect from a leader in a moment of genuine outrage and anxiety. Trump’s cluelessness about what he needed to do in that moment — and his stubborn refusal to acknowledge that, maybe just maybe, he hadn’t handled it the right way, left a giant gaping leadership hole in the country and the party.
Ryan, in this statement, is moving to fill it — to show that he understands the stakes of events like Charlottesville and what it means to the country in a way…
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