In his final State of the Union address, President Obama laid out a vision of America seriously at odds with the vision of hate and exclusion the Republican presidential candidates have been pushing. It was hard to miss what Obama was talking about when he said things like, “we need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion.” Well, obviously Republicans cannot allow themselves to agree with anything the president says. In fact, it always has to be BAD BAD BAD, no matter what.
And so it is: House Speaker Paul Ryan agrees with Obama that Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country is a bad idea. But if Ryan agrees with the president on substance, he has to disagree on style, because heaven knows he can’t be seen just plain agreeing with Obama on anything. So ...
"But I think it sort of degrades the presidency to then talk about primary politics in the other party, during primaries. That's not what presidents ought to be talking about in State of the Union addresses," Ryan added. "Speaking up for our values and speaking up for our beliefs is one thing. But kind of wading into the primary politics of the other party is just not really what presidents ought to do."
Let’s recast just a bit. Ryan is saying it “degrades the presidency” for the president to speak out against bigotry when bigotry is in the news. He’s saying the president must keep quiet about one of the major political debates of our time just because it’s being driven by presidential primary candidates. It’s not good enough that Obama didn’t name names, just said we shouldn’t target people because of race or religion and that throughout American history, “there have been those who told us to fear the future; who claimed we could slam the brakes on change, promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control,” but that “each time, we overcame those fears.” This is degrading the presidency by wading into the primary politics of the other party? Pfft.