So today is the big day: Donald Trump meets Paul Ryan and Republican Senators who are afraid to endorse him. From a historical viewpoint it occurred to me that Ryan’s encounter with Trump is all vaguely reminiscent of when the caretaker head of state who the Shah left behind had to hang with the Ayatollah Khomeini when he returned in February 1979. A great moment in history. In any case, the first meeting seems to have gone reasonably well. Trump and Ryan just released a joint statement which essentially says that their differences are outweighed by their common views and the need to defeat the evil Hillary Clinton.
But the statement is pretty interesting from a Kremlinological point of view.
If you decode the statement, the framework and path forward is laid out with some clarity. Ryan is conceding that Trump has energized the party by bringing in new voters (even though that’s demonstrably not the case – he’s brought regular GOP voters who’d seldom participated in primaries into the process). He is also signaling that he will get behind Trump’s campaign. Just not yet. What Trump has to do is get behind Ryan’s agenda of cutting and/or privatizing social insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security as well as other components of the conventional, DC conservative agenda. This almost certainly also means coming down off his hostility to trade deals.
Next up, Ryan will speak to the press (big question is whether he uses the ‘Mr Trump’ phrasing) and Trump will meet with GOP senators.