Given the circumstances, future relations between Donald Trump and GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan promise to be like no other.
After the presidential nominee-in-waiting visited the nation’s top-ranking Republican last week, the two put out a joint statement.
“It’s critical,” they said, “that Republicans unite around our shared principles, advance a conservative agenda, and do all we can to win this fall.”
That all sounds fine until you realize that Trump, who has staged the biggest revolt the party has seen in a half-century, stomps on so many party positions and pieties that it’s hard to tell what “shared principles” they are talking about.
As leader of 246 members of the House majority, Ryan is a pillar in the “party establishment” clearly disregarded by so many of the more than 10 million people who have voted so far for the blustery billionaire.
On the Iraq War begun under President George W. Bush, Trump said, “They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none, and they knew there were none.”
On multinational trade agreements explicitly backed in his party’s 2012 platform, Trump said: “We are killing ourselves with trade pacts that are no good for us.”
On a cultural issue pushed by Republican lawmakers, Trump says he doesn’t care which bathroom transgender people use.
On immigration, Trump has called for mass deportations of millions of people in the United States illegally, while Ryan has said, “I can’t imagine how it could happen.”
If Trump is elected, Ryan’s House Republicans and the Senate Republicans immediately become subordinate to a GOP chief executive, at least as far as the party goes.
Polls show congressional Republicans blamed for much of the Washington gridlock.
Which leads to questions of campaign funding and how contributions will be spread within the national party.
In an appearance at Hofstra University in March, longtime GOP operative Ed Rollins said — before joining a Trump super PAC — that he expected many party donors to say “let’s make sure we don’t lose the Congress” and that they could live with Democrats in the White House for another four years.
Ryan and Trump hold clashing interests in the Washington game. They’ll continue to do so, with a special edge, if both succeed in November.
These two will have no need to build a wall. The border between them is already pretty hard to cross.