Former Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan emerged from self-imposed political exile to lash “entertainer” lawmakers.
The former Wisconsin lawmaker didn’t name names, but insisted they come from “both parties.”
“In the ‘old days,’ like ten years ago, if you wanted to do really well in Congress, if you wanted to succeed, you climbed a meritocracy. The measurement of success was policy and persuasion,” Ryan said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Thursday.
“You persuade your colleagues, your country, your constituents: ‘This is the right way to go, here’s the solution,’” he told host Rebecca Quick.
“That’s not necessarily what motivates people anymore. There’s a lot of entertainers in Congress on both parties,” he added.
Ryan said that under the “old meritocracy” it took 10 to 20 years to build a reputation as a “good policymaker.” Now, he scoffed, you can now “just leap-frog that whole process, be a really good entertainer, have an incredible presence, digital, and forget about policymaking and curate a brand for yourself.”
But building an entertainment “brand” is bad for bipartisanship, Ryan warned.
“If you are going to entertain, if you are going to try to show that you’re better than everyone else within your own ecosystem” it makes it more difficult to compromise and forge policy, he noted. It “divides us,” Ryan added.
Ryan, who served as speaker form 2015 to 2019, removed himself from the political scrum after 20 years in office and opted not to run for reelection in 2018, following uncomfortable confrontations with then-President Donald Trump.
A reluctant Ryan eventually endorsed Trump when he was running for president. But he withdrew his support a month before the 2016 election after the Access Hollywood tape emerged with Trump boasting that he liked to “grab” women “by the pussy.” Trump predictably blasted Ryan as disloyal and accused him of deliberately undermining his campaign.
Ryan said in an interview last year that it was “really clear” Trump lost the election, and that the election was in no way rigged.
The former lawmaker told Quick that he has been friends with President Joe Biden “for years,” but complained Biden “gave the keys to the left.”