Why is Paul Ryan endorsing Donald Trump?

House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke during a weekly news conference in May.
Zach Gibson/New York Times
House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke during a weekly news conference in May.

Paul Ryan is the speaker of the House of Representatives. He is third in line for the presidency, and he is the most powerful and influential elected Republican official in the country.

Today he endorsed for president a man who:

- Pledged to ban all Muslims from entering the country.


- Said he will forcibly deport 11 million illegal immigrants.

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- Bragged about the size of his penis in a presidential debate.

- Intimated that the president of the United States was not born in the United States.

- Mocked a reporter with a physical disability.

- Belittled prisoner of war and former Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, for being captured during the Vietnam War.


- Called Mitt Romney, the last Republican presidential candidate — and Ryan’s running mate in 2012 — a “dope,” “one of the dumbest and worst candidates in US political history” and questioned Romney’s Mormon faith.

- Previously called George W. Bush “the worst president in the history of the United States.”

- Suggested that Bill Clinton is a rapist and may have murdered a close aide who committed suicide.

- Said the United States should pull out of NATO and doesn’t know what the nuclear triad is.

- Pledged to bring back torture and once suggested murdering the family members of suspected terrorists.


- Called the Geneva Conventions a “problem.”

- Proposed slapping huge tariffs on major American trading partners.

- Called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and criminals.

- Offered support for creating a database to track Muslims in the United States.

- Falsely claimed that American Muslims cheered the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York.

- Repeatedly refers to Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas.”

- Calls Hillary Clinton a “lowlife” and said she’d been “schlonged” by Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential primaries.

- Referred to his primary opponents as “Lyin Ted,” “Little Marco,” suggested that Ben Carson was a child molester and mocked Carly Fiorina’s appearance.

- Mocked the appearance of Ted Cruz’s wife.

- Got in a public fight with the Pope.

- Said he wants to punch protesters at his campaign rallies in the face and said they deserved to get “roughed up.’’

- Denies the science behind climate change and has said the concept of global warming was created by the Chinese to hurt US manufacturing.

- Is an anti-vaxxer.

- Has a long of history of misogyny and mistreatment of women.

- Once said that if Ivanka Trump wasn’t his daughter, he’d probably try to date her.

- Told a lawyer who wanted to take a break during a deposition to pump breast milk that she was “disgusting.”

- Said he could stand on Fifth Avenue and shoot people and wouldn’t lose any Republican votes.

- Refused to disavow the support of David Duke, who is a neo-Nazi and white supremacist.

- Retweeted tweets from neo-Nazis.

- Said there should be some form of punishment for women who get abortions.

- Accused a female reporter of making up claims that his campaign manager grabbed and pushed her, even though the incident was caught on video.

- Called Paul Ryan weak on illegal immigration and blamed him for Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012.

For decades, but particularly over the past eight years, Republican leaders have winked and nodded at the nativist, racist, misogynist, un-democratic elements that find residence on the political right. Now that a nativist, racist, misogynist, quasi- authoritarian is the presumptive Republican presidential standard bearer, it’s hardly a surprise that Ryan would accept reality and offer him his formal endorsement. That doesn’t make it any less awful.

Ryan is — like so many other elected Republican officials — putting his personal and political interests ahead of the national interest. Even if Trump loses in November, that decision should haunt Ryan and the Republican Party for generations to come.

Michael A. Cohen’s column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @speechboy71.