Reprinted from The Nation
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Paul Ryan is supposed to be the responsible adult in a room full of immature and belligerent Republicans.
As the speaker of the House, as the party's immediate former nominee for vice president, as a frequently boomed prospect for the presidency himself, Ryan has the authority and the stature that most of the party's presidential candidates lack.
It is Ryan who should be drawing a line and saying that Republicans are on one side and Donald Trump is on the other.
Yet, after Trump called for an indiscriminate "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the United States -- in the latest expression of his xenophobia and bigotry -- Ryan sounded like an indulgent parent talking about a troublesome child.
"Normally, I do not comment on what's going on in the presidential election. I will take an exception today," Ryan said on Tuesday, as a firestorm rose regarding Trump's crude extremism.
"This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for. And, more importantly, it's not what this country stands for," Ryan told a Capitol Hill news conference. "Not only are there many Muslims serving in our armed forces dying for this country, there are Muslims serving right here in the House working every day to uphold and to defend the Constitution."
All true. And it was clear Ryan was talking about Trump -- even if the speaker lacked the wherewithal to call out the billionaire by name.
There is no question that millions of Muslims are proud Americans, that they serve honorably in the military and Congress. Nor is there any question that, as Ryan notes, "Some of our best and biggest allies in this struggle and fight against radical Islamic terror are Muslims -- the vast, vast, vast majority of whom are peaceful, who believe in pluralism, freedom, democracy, individual rights."