Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s Economic Plan Is Straight-Up Trickle Down Nonsense

This guy is running for president. Don't worry! He probably owns a tie.

This guy is running for president. Don’t worry! He probably owns a tie.

Evan McMullin is running for president as an anti-Trump independent candidate. Who the hell is Evan McMullin? Well, he’s a Republican who gave a TED Talk once. That’s about all we know. McKay Coppins at BuzzFeed writes:

He has never held elective office before and has spent most of his career as a CIA officer, according to his LinkedIn page. Young and unmarried, McMullin received an MBA at Wharton in 2011, and after a stint at Goldman Sachs, went to work as a policy wonk on Capitol Hill.

Unlike National Review writer David French, another conservative courted by anti-Trump Republicans to launch a long-shot third-party bid, McMullin has virtually no public profile. He doesn’t appear regularly on television, and has just 135 followers on Twitter. His most recent high-profile appearance seems to have been a TEDx talk about genocide he gave at London Business School in April. He also delivered a speech in May about the future of the Republican Party.

McMullin won’t be able to make it on the ballot in many states, but operatives hope he’ll move the needle, especially, in Utah. (McMullin is a Brigham Young University graduate, and polling indicates that Mormons are very uncomfortable with Trump.) He can’t win the electoral college because he’s missed so many state filing deadlines, but McMullin at least represents a mainstream Republican for anti-Trump mainstream Republicans to vote for.

Let’s take a look at McMullin’s campaign website to see where he stands on the economy. His economic plan is made up of four sentences. First sentence: “America should be the best place in the world for innovation, entrepreneurship and opportunity.” Okay! We agree. Next sentence: “We must reform a system that too often benefits the politically connected and the corporate elite, while leaving too many Americans behind.” Also true. Economic inequality is out of control. We’re halfway through the statement and we’re in total agreement!

So what’s next? “Our tax code should be lean, simple and encourage investment here at home.” Hmmm. See, on the surface, we agree with being simple and encouraging investment at home, but the proposition of a simple tax code from a Republican-identifying candidate often results in tax breaks for the wealthy (and since McMullin worked at Goldman Sachs, it seems pretty easy to predict where his loyalties would lie.) So I agree with some of the spirit of that sentence, but I disagree with what I believe to be the sentiment behind it. And then, this: “Government regulations should be reduced to foster a dynamic economy.” Ugh. Another Republican who blames regulations for murdering growth.  It’s just not true. It doesn’t happen. Regulations create jobs.

So I was looking at McMullin’s economic plan—what little there is of it—at the same time that the internet was reacting to Donald Trump’s economic speech. And barring some of his signature bombastic rhetoric on trade—somehow, China is going to rain down money on the US because Trump is good at deals, I guess—Trump’s economic plan is the same trickle-down baloney that Mitt Romney served. It’s basically the same as John McCain’s plan, which was the same as George W. Bush’s plan.

What Trump is demanding is the usual conservative boilerplate: tax cuts for the rich and deregulation for the powerful. He’s calling for a moratorium on financial regulations and a repeal of the estate tax, which would of course directly benefit all Trump’s children. And in case you worry about those conservative threats that the so-called “death tax” will mean your children won’t receive their inheritance after you pass away, Bloomberg makes it very clear that currently the estate tax “applies only to estates larger than $5.45 million for individuals and $10.9 million for couples.”  So we’re not talking about modest one-bedroom homes being seized by Uncle Sam, here.

The most remarkable thing about Trump’s economic plan, to me, is how conventional it is: promises of cutting taxes for small business sound like Mitt Romney’s small business plan, which actually benefitted large corporations at the expense of small business. Promises to help the middle and working classes grow are supposedly spurred by tax cuts for the rich and deregulation for big business. For a candidate as aggressively un-mainstream as Trump, this is a boring, mainstream Republican plan—the same philosophy that guided George W. Bush until his bad policies exploded the economy in 2008. I’m willing to bet that when we hear more specifics from McMullin’s economic plan, in fact, we’ll learn that he and Trump are pushing roughly the exact same policy. Some independent candidate he turned out to be.

Donald Trump Is Wrong. Hiring Workers Isn’t a Sacrifice.

"I even pay them more than the minimum wage. I'm basically Jesus."

“I even pay them the minimum wage. I’m basically Jesus.”

In all the Trump-related news that happened over this hellacious weekend, I just wanted to highlight one specific thing that Donald Trump said. When asked by George Stephanopoulos from ABC News to respond to gold star father Khizr Khan’s claim that he has sacrificed nothing, Trump replied: “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.”

Now. Of the many things Trump said this weekend, this is nowhere near the most shocking. His continued assault on the Khans—implying that Ghazala Khan didn’t speak at the Democratic National Convention because of Islamic law; suggesting that Khizr Khan didn’t have the “right” to challenge him on the Constitution—was so shameful that Republican leaders have had to run away from him. This weekend, in fact, was quite possibly the lowest point in a campaign that is relentlessly pitted with low points.

But I want to focus on what Trump said about “creating…jobs” as a sacrifice because it’s something that I see a lot. The 2012 Republican convention famously adopted “You Didn’t Build That” as a theme, and the speaker rotation featured business owner after business owner being applauded for hiring workers. Not featured in the speaking slate at the 2012 RNC? Actual workers.

Look: small business is a great thing. We want to create an environment that encourages as many people as possible in America to start businesses, because that’s how you create growth. Saluting employers is a wonderful and meaningful thing for a political party to do.

But. Sometimes you’ll find employers in the spotlight who complain about the expense of employing workers. They’ll argue against raising the minimum wage by calling their employees unworthy of a living wage. They’ll describe hiring workers as a sacrifice. And that’s the point when we should stand up and say something.

Hiring workers isn’t something that business owners do out of the kindness of their hearts. They hire workers because they have work that needs to be done, and because they don’t have the expertise, the time, and/or the desire to do that work themselves. Workers are hired to solve problems. Without the workers, problems don’t get solved and businesses fail.

This argument that paying people to work for you is a sacrifice strikes me as very similar to the argument that if employers are forced to pay employees more, they’ll turn to automation. It casts the employer as a force for good, as someone who employs people out of the kindness of their hearts when they could pursue other, more profitable avenues instead. This is not true. If Jimmy Johns could buy affordable sandwich-making robots instead of paying human workers, they would.

Employers need their workers, but to publicly admit that they need the workers would put them at a disadvantage when it comes time to negotiate salaries. Trump expects us to believe that he’s sacrificing by paying workers for their time when he’s actually fulfilling the bare minimum requirement for a businessperson. (And in fact many times he has failed to fulfill that requirement.) He’s not a hero for hiring people, and I stand with Khizr Khan: Donald Trump has sacrificed exactly nothing.


Donald Trump Is Right, for Once—Let’s Raise the Minimum Wage

The Washington Post did the world a favor when it made its Trump Hat generator.

This morning’s press conference was full of what you’d expect from Donald Trump Trump: a few points where he seemed scarily misinformed (he called John Hinkley Jr. “David Hinkley” and he seemed to confuse Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine with former New Jersey governor Tom Kean, a republican) and one point where he seemed to violate the law (when he called for Russia, “if you are listening,” to hack into Hillary Clinton’s email server. That last bit, naturally, got all the press—we have never before seen a presidential candidate publicly beg a foreign power to commit an act of espionage against the United States, so it’s big news. (As Ezra Klein argues convincingly at Vox, Trump has long since blown past any standards of normalcy or decency.)

But Trump also made news in another way this morning; in fact, if he hadn’t made history with his incredibly irresponsible Russia comments, perhaps he’d be leading the headlines with some good news for a change: he endorsed a $10 minimum wage. As CNN reports, Trump originally told Bill O’Reilly last night on Fox News that “You need to help people. I know it’s not very Republican to say.” When O’Reilly asked to what level he’d raise the minimum wage, Trump finally settled on ten: “’I would say 10. I would say 10,’ Trump agreed.” And at this morning’s press conference, he doubled down: “Trump said once again that the federal minimum wage should be raised to ‘at least $10’ but that ‘states should really call the shots.’”

Let’s be clear that the above quote makes no sense. You can’t raise the minimum wage to at least $10 and then vaguely insinuate that states could make the minimum wage lower than $10, because that flies in the face of what a federal minimum wage is. And in the recent past, Trump has also argued against having a federal minimum wage at all. As recently as November, he argued that American wages are too high and we have to leave the minimum wage “where it is” in order to compete with the world. So it must be said that he’s been wrong every step of the way on the minimum wage until now, and he could very easily be wrong on it again tomorrow.But let’s appreciate the fact that somehow, in the same press conference where he made one of the worst mistakes of his entire political career, Donald Trump actually acknowledged something good and useful: that the minimum wage has to go up. The last increase — from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour — happened way back in 2007. (Of course, Trump has the amount wrong. A $10 minimum wage would still be lower than when the minimum wage was at its peak in 1968, when adjusted for inflation.)

This is a significant moment in the fight for the $15 minimum wage: for the first time in at least 9 years, both political parties agree that the minimum wage needs to be substantially increased. The leader of the Republican Party has called for a federal minimum wage increase — and not a piddly quarter or two; he’s demanded “at least” an increase of $2.75. This is the first time this has happened since George W. Bush—Mitt Romney was against raising the wage when he was a presidential candidate in 2008 and 2012, though he now says Republicans are “nuts not to raise the minimum wage.”

Speaker Paul Ryan voted against raising the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour back in 2007. In fact, he’s voted against raising the wage at least ten times. Every Republican running for president in 2016 except for Rick Santorum opposed raising the minimum wage. Hell, Jeb Bush called to eliminate the federal minimum wage altogether, which is not an unusual position for someone in the Republican Party to hold nowadays.

In the last 24 hours, Trump changed the national conversation on the minimum wage. Raising the wage is no longer in question; the only question now is how high it should go. The prevailing $15 figure — the one approved by Seattle and California and New York and many other locations nationwide — isn’t even as high as the minimum wage would be right now had it been tied to productivity. Back in 2013, John Schmitt argued that if it had kept pace with productivity since 1968, “the minimum wage today would arguably be about $22 per hour,” and “if we use a more conservative measure of productivity growth suggested by my colleague Dean Baker, the minimum wage today would still be about $16 per hour.” In short, Republicans would be getting a bargain if they agreed to a $15 federal minimum wage.

Let’s be clear: Trump finally being right on the minimum wage does not make him a more credible candidate, or even a slightly more favorable candidate. His erratic behavior and hateful rhetoric disqualify him from the presidency. But despite all his disgusting positions and nonexistent policies, Trump is more reasonable than the rest of his party when it comes to the minimum wage. If I were Paul Ryan or Jeb Bush or some other high-profile Republican, I would take that fact and sit with it for a while.

The Dangers of I-Do-Me-ism


The Donald Trump quote in this tweet really hammered something home for me:

It strikes me that this could and should be the slogan for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign: “I don’t care. I do me.” Trump’s malignant brand of populism is founded and fostered on the idea that the individual comes first, at the expense of society. I’ve already written about Trump’s disastrous business style, which is predicated on an “I do me” platform, but in politics this philosophy is even more destructive.

Trump’s I-do-me-ism is based on the idea that a very particular individual—white, male, Christian—comes first. Everybody else gets scraps, if they get anything at all. In Trump’s ideal America, for example, white women can work and vote but they’d better not get uppity about the pay gap, or sexual harassment. Immigrants get sent home. Muslims are profiled and harassed until they get the message that they’re not welcome.

“I don’t care. I do me” is also the message that the British people sent in last week’s Brexit vote. When leaders like Boris Johnson promise that Britain will have all the benefits of EU membership without any of the expenses, he’s promoting a me-first attitude that foregoes any ideas of community or responsibility.

The strains of populism and nationalism on the march today are rooted in racism. Racism is what happens when you throw empathy in the garbage. Trump’s rallies have emboldened white supremacists to a level that we haven’t seen in America’s public spaces since the 1960s. And racist incidents have skyrocketed in Britain, post-Brexit.

Let’s be clear: Trump and Brexit are not happening in a vacuum. It’s easy to convince people to promote a racist, harmful political ideology when they feel as though they’ve been left behind. Income inequality doesn’t create racism, but it does create an environment that encourages racist actions. People are likely to act more exclusionary when they feel as though they’ve been excluded.

But we’re at a real crossroads here. What Trump is proposing with his I-do-me-ism is a political ideology based solely on selfishness, a feral politicsthat urges citizens to grab whatever they can before it’s all gone. Looting is not a successful form of governance; it eventually ends with the biggest, loudest bully taking over, in the form of authoritarianism.

Progressives need to reject exclusionary politics in all its forms. That means we can’t leave anyone out—even Trump voters. Without policies and talking points that embrace America’s working class and the white male voters who flock to Trump, the election threatens to spin into a toxic game of us vs. them.

This is not to say that progressives should court racism, xenophobia, or nationalism; we should condemn them at any opportunity, but we should do so in a constructive way. We should call out racism by proving that equality is better for everyone. We should argue that hate is bad for nations. (We’re seeing this now in Britain.) We must spotlight and amplify the same people Trump and his I-do-me-ists are trying to silence and vilify.

Most religions and moral codes offer some variation of turning the other cheek, of welcoming those who don’t make us feel welcome. This is because we know as a species, on a DNA-deep level, that inclusion makes us stronger than exclusion. But the only way we can prove to Trump voters that inclusion is stronger is by continually offering meaningful, inclusive solutions for the problems they perceive.

Politics has never been easy, but never in my lifetime has it felt so actively distasteful as it does right now. For many, it would be easier to turn your back on the whole process, to give up on politics and to hide away from the hurtful words. We must not give in to the easy way. We have to keep making the case that we all do better when we all do better. We’ve come too far to fall prey to the vicious philosophy of I-do-me-ism.

Finally, We See Donald Trump for What He Is

One of the biggest expenditures of the Trump campaign last month? Hats. He's a terrible candidate, but a stellar haberdasher!

One of the biggest expenditures of the Trump campaign last month? Hats. He’s a terrible candidate, but a stellar haberdasher!

So. I can’t stop thinking about Donald Trump. Last night, after a day spent dealing with the messy blowback of firing a campaign manager at the absolute worst time to fire a campaign manager, he announced his campaign fundraising totals, and they are apocalyptically bad:

Trump raised just over $3 million in May — the month he secured enough delegates to win the Republican nomination — while Clinton raked in more than $26 million, according to the latest filings from the Federal Election Commission….Clinton didn’t just out-raise Trump 9-1: She also entered June with much more cash in her coffers.

Trump started the month of June with just $1.29 million cash on hand —compared with Clinton’s $42 million.

Reporters are digging through the reports and finding all sorts of interesting facts: Trump paid $35,000 to a sketchy firm apparently named after characters from Mad Men; Trump paid over one million dollars to Trump-owned companies in May; Trump paid himself and members of his family a salary. Even a head of a Trump Super PAC admits that Trump’s campaign is in “big trouble.”

A moment like this is unprecedented in presidential politics. We’ve never seen such a disparity in campaign income before, and while Sarah Palin certainly got some fringe benefits out of the VP candidacy, no other major party presidential candidate has cashed in so publicly in the heat of a campaign. The New York Times is reporting that Trump may get reporters to pay for a business trip to Scotland next week, for crying out loud. It’s hard to look at all these facts and not conclude that Trump is running a very elaborate grift on the Republican Party.

How bad are things for Trump right now? Speculation is very high that he will drop out. Of course, you wouldn’t know that by looking at Trump’s Twitter feed. The presumptive GOP nominee has gone on the offensive today, attacking Hillary Clinton repeatedly and making the case for a Trump presidency. (In fact, you might say he’s protesting a little too much in an effort to change the narrative.) Here’s one of Trump’s main arguments for a Trump presidency:


Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 10.57.09 AM

FASCINATING. This is absolutely fascinating. I think Trump is trying to say that debt is bad for the United States, but it sounds more like he’s saying that his business practices are “bad for the country.” And then he announces that he “made a fortune off of debt,” but that he’ll “fix U.S.,” presumably by doing the exact opposite of his debt-inflating practices once he gets in office.

So no matter how you read this tweet, Trump is making a case against voting for Donald Trump. Either he admits that his sketchy business practices ruined America or he is arguing that you can’t run America the way you’d run a business. Twice he says his business practices are founded on debt.

This is true. Donald Trump’s business career is built on bankruptcy—”no major U.S. company has filed for Chapter 11 more than Trump’s casino empire in the last 30 years,” CNN said last year—and he’s been sued repeatedly for not paying workers. By keeping his debtors waiting and his workers tied up in endless lawsuits, and by exploiting years of free media through his outrageous antics, Trump has constructed a gigantic pyramid scheme built on ego and morally reprehensible behavior.

In other words, he’s profited by exploiting the shady areas that other businesses are too ethical to approach. Trump is right. This kind of behavior is “bad for the country.” He’s undercutting his competitors and exploiting the free market in terrible ways.

And it appears that Trump was trying to use these same sketchy business practices in his presidential campaign, too—pumping money into his businesses, giving payouts to friends and family, relying on free media to get his message across—but the monthly fundraising reports instead revealed his scam for what it is.

Who would’ve thought? After decades of unethical behavior in the business sector, it was finally politics that revealed Trump for the crooked scam artist he is. Think about that the next time you want to decry politicians as the lowest form of life. Whatever you may want to say about the corruption of the American political system, it at least had the decency and transparency to lay Trump’s simple-minded game bare in a matter of months, in a way that the business world never could.

There is absolutely no evidence—zero—that, if elected president, Trump would do anything different. He only knows one way to behave, and he’s not imaginative enough to learn a new way. He’d run the country using the same techniques he’s used to run his businesses, and his presidential campaign: he’d try to distract from his continual reliance on debt and exploitation with more and more outrageous behavior. And all the while he’d be praying that nobody would notice that underneath all the flim-flammery and showmanship, he’s just an empty vacuum in an ill-fitting suit, building an empire out of a con game.

Donald Trump Just Created an Amazing Opportunity in the Fight for Sane Gun Laws

I can’t stop thinking about this morning’s tweet from Donald Trump:

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 1.13.35 PM


Note that Trump is not going to his party’s leadership to argue this, or to Congressional Republicans. Nope! He’s going, instead, to the NRA. Presumably because the NRA are the real bosses, the real leaders, the people who can create real change within the party. Trump understands that if the NRA were to tell Republicans to stop fighting the terrorist watchlist law, they’d stop fighting immediately. So, in true Art of the Deal fashion, Trump’s going to the place where his words will have the most impact.

But let’s take a moment to reflect on how truly horrific this whole scenario truly is. Donald Trump is the voice of reason here. He is fighting for a law that will allow the government to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists.  And his own party is not supporting him on this. So he’s going to the gun lobby—an organization that is funded in large part by gun manufacturers, and which dumps millions of dollars in the pockets of elected officials—to beg them to allow this to happen. Trump often says democracy is broken, and he’s absolutely right in this case. But the problem is that he’s part of the broken system.

Of course, it should be noted that Trump posted his little tweet before Senate Democrats began their filibuster for gun responsibility, which is making every Republican, Trump included, look like weak-kneed gun-worshippers. Democrats aren’t taking their argument to the NRA, an organization which has no power to make laws. They’re taking their argument to the American people because they’ve had enough. This is how democracy is supposed to work.

No matter how the Democratic filibuster ends, this is a watershed moment in the fight against gun violence in America. Trump has, possibly accidentally, proven how ghastly the Republican defense of the NRA agenda truly is. He’s pointed out the lobbying organization behind the curtain and identified them as the people in charge.

And Trump’s broken ranks on the conservative lockstep that for so many years made it impossible to pass anything resembling a sane gun responsibility law. Now that Trump’s admitted it’s nuts for us to allow people suspected of terrorism to buy guns, he’s opened up the door for Democrats to point out all the other insanity on the conservative NRA agenda—the fact that assault weapons can be purchased in less than ten minutes, the fact that it’s illegal for government agencies to even collect data on gun violence.

Once you acknowledge one fatal error in your ideology, it becomes much easier for your opponents to make a rhetorical argument against everything else. This is why Republicans have gone over the edge of reason for guns in the last few decades—because the NRA understands that one single crack in their facade could create a tsunami of public opinion against them.

Civic Ventures President Zach Silk wrote a terrific essay earlier today about how you can and should get involved in the fight against gun violence. Now that Trump has opened the door for argument—even just a hair—it’s important that average Americans, the millions of us who are outraged at all the avoidable mass shootings and killings and suicides and accidental deaths, take advantage of this opportunity. It’s time for everyone to get involved in this fight.

We Do Not Want a Deadbeat Employer in the Oval Office

Withholding wages from the middle class is no game.

Withholding wages from the middle class is no game.

Just yesterday on this here blog, I was talking about toxic employers. I discussed McDonald’s and Wal-Mart, which are two of the all-time classic examples of the form. But there are plenty of bad employers out there—the kind of cheap SOBs who lower the bar for employers everywhere—and they’re not all doing business under a pair of golden arches or behind smiley faces. Why, a great USA Today report about a particularly bad employer just hit the internet today. His name is Donald Trump:

Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will “protect your job.” But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades – and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans, like the Friels, who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.

At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings reviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK, document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work. Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. A glass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters. Dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, coast to coast. Real estate brokers who sold his properties. And, ironically, several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others.

Lots of people—myself included—believe that if you want to know a person’s soul, you should watch the way they deal with their servers at a restaurant. If a person yells at, mistreats, or stiffs a waiter, they’re likely not a decent person. Along those lines, Trump is proving with this story that he’s a terrible employer. Which probably means he’s a terrible person, and which definitely proves he’s not a good leader.

I mean, really. Do you want a man who doesn’t fairly pay small businesses for work they’ve done for him to be in charge of the federal government? Do you believe that someone who stiffs the middle class out of what they’re owed should be Commander-in-Chief? Say what you will about Mitt Romney, but he at least held to his contracts. As a businessman, Trump is the worst kind of bottom-feeder: he uses unethical standards in business because it helps him get ahead. He relies on everyone else to behave honorably so that he can twist the rules and exploit decent people to his own advantage.

Aside from the embarrassing fact that Trump uses scummy tactics to get ahead in business, he demonstrates in this story a fundamental misunderstanding of how the economy works. We all know that the middle class is the true creator of jobs in the 21st century economy. Do we really want someone who exploits the middle class as a matter of course in the White House? Doesn’t this practice, of taking money from the 99 percent and sucking it up to the wealthiest, reveal Trump to be the ultimate trickle-downer?

Paul Ryan Releases Bizarre Anti-Trump Ad That Never Mentions Trump By Name


"I'm not saying I'll vote for Trump, but I'm not NOT saying I'll vote for Trump. Of course, I'm also not saying I won't vote for Trump, but I'm not saying I won't WON'T vote for Trump, either."

“I’m not saying I’ll vote for Trump, but I’m not NOT saying I’ll vote for Trump. Of course, I’m also not saying I won’t vote for Trump, but I’m not saying I won’t WON’T vote for Trump, either.”

Yesterday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s office published a very strange video. Titled “The Choice,” the video features Ryan speaking very vaguely about something that he thinks is a real problem today. He doesn’t really name the problem he’s discussing, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s talking about Donald Trump. Here’s the video:

And here’s the transcript:

I have not seen the kind of bitterness in our discourse, our politics, like we have today, and I gotta say I think it’s both sides — I’d love to say it’s just Democrats, but it’s not, it’s both. And it doesn’t have to be this way. America can do better. This anxiety has got to be channeled, and dealt with with solutions instead of just amplified and accelerated and exacerbating it.

How do you fix that? I think leaders fix this. We haven’t had that kind of leadership lately. Leaders need to say, “Here’s my principle, here’s my solution and let’s try and do it in a way that is inclusive, that’s optimistic, that aspirational and that’s focusing on solutions.” And so that’s the choice you’ll have, far more than personality. Republicans lose personality contests anyway. We always do. But we win ideas contests. We owe you that choice.

So a little Ryan-to-English translation is necessary: by “it’s both sides” who participate in bitterness, Ryan is really just calling out Donald Trump. When he says that we “haven’t had that kind of leadership lately,” he’s likely calling out both President Obama and Donald Trump. This is exceptionally weird, right? I can’t recall another time when a prominent elected official has put out a commercial trashing the presumptive presidential nominee of his own party.

Also interesting? Ryan’s idea of what leaders do. Nobody, really, can argue with his claim that leaders should be optimistic, aspirational, and in favor of solutions. This is about as controversial as calling kittens cute. But calling for an “inclusive” leader is a hell of a stretch, coming as it does from a man who is arguably the most public face of a party that is pushing anti-trans bathroom laws, suing for the right to discriminate against gay couples, and working around the clock to ensure that as few people as possible can enjoy the right to vote. Ryan’s budgets are the most exclusionary documents ever embraced by a mainstream political party in modern times. (Here’s a study guide for Speaker Ryan: If your plan rewards the very wealthy at the expense of many more poor people, you’re practicing exclusionary politics, not inclusive politics.)

So in the end, Ryan is attacking Trump for being further along the same spectrum that Ryan himself is on. Maybe Ryan is reacting so forcefully to Trump’s rise because in Trump he sees something of his own politics reflected back at him? Maybe by being so aggressively exclusionary in (for example) his policies against immigrants, Trump is forcing the mainstream Republican Party into an uncomfortable state of self-awareness? Two years ago, it would have been inconceivable to imagine Paul Ryan defending inclusiveness as a core Republican value; maybe two years from now Ryan will realize that getting into a fight with Trump was not unlike picking a fight with the guy in the bathroom mirror.