"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." — Proverbs, 16:18
The above proverb suggests why the wise and prudent might not want to be standing too close to Donald John Trump when certain ancient truths achieve fulfillment. What I mean is the innocent can get hurt by falling bricks and masonry.
Trump's jabs at House Speaker Paul Ryan over Ryan's unwillingness to lie prostrate at the candidate's feet have a shivery, omen-like character: a political owl hoot at midnight. And all because Ryan said last week he wishes to reserve judgment about endorsing Trump. He would like first to appraise the candidate's intentions regarding party unity.
Trump, when informed, was unhappy, notwithstanding Ryan's explicit assurance that "I hope to (endorse him) ... and I want to."
In turn, the candidate declined to rule out deposing Ryan as GOP convention chairman. He said, in a written statement: "I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan's agenda."
So first comes a friendly little hint that at Camp Trump, the most valued skill is bootlicking. Then saliva suddenly covers the speaker's credentials for putting together a disciplined conservative program aimed at tackling the nation's assorted problems. Ryan's lively and still-developing agenda, offered on behalf of and in cooperation with the Republican House majority, encompasses significant reform of the tax structure; reduction of federal regulation; less federal tinkering with health care; and pro-growth policies based on free-market principles.
Adding injury to insult, the political wizard Sarah Palin says she's going to rid the political world of Ryan and Ryan-ism; hence her pledge to help defeat the speaker's re-election bid.
Holes, gaps, impracticalities, mistakes — the Ryan program surely has them all, being broad and grand. No wholesomely conservative program, whether handed down from Mount Sinai or the speaker's office, can achieve total victory in a nation half-favorable, half-opposed to conservative principles. What's the Donald's problem with the Ryan agenda — apart from its being Ryan's, and the House's and insufficiently reflective of the Urgent Need to Wall Off Mexican Migrants? Trump's problem with it is the very idea of anyone trying to solve America's problems without prior permission from Trump Tower!
The Trump camp can't stand to see the Master trumped by anyone: perhaps least of all by a member of that political elite so rousingly repudiated in the primaries. It's Trump's party now. So goes the apparent theory. You over there — Ryan, or whatever your name is. When the boss says jump, jump!
"Upon what meat," many might inquire at this point, "doth this our Caesar feed that he is grown so great?" And what are the implications? The reality of Trump's narrow-based electoral triumph can't be argued. He won — or, to speak more exactly, is winning. And he won't get over it: not until Hillary Clinton cleans his plow in November and proceeds to act as though Donald J. Trump never existed. Many Republicans, by that time, will wish he never had.
No one is entitled to predict the course of the Republican Party in a highly predictable post-Trump era. There may not be much of the party left. Or, alternatively, there may be enough that it can be patted back into hopeful shape by the likes of Paul Ryan — assuming the speaker holds off the yowling Palin-ite hordes. After a sharp jaunt to the left and an unpleasant experience with the command-and-control lefties who set Democratic policy, the country might be ready for renewal in the Ryan manner: less Washington, D.C.; more state capital and city hall; more genuine power to the genuine people.
The irony is that the party's sharpest thinker (except, I guess, for Professor Trump, who seems to know everything) is treated as a candidate for expulsion from public life. We are at an exceptional and dangerous moment, when quality counts for less than noise, self-centeredness and pride of the sort always said to end badly.
Sensible folks will stick as close to Paul Ryan as possible. They will need him to help clean up the big gooey mess we're making of things.
William Murchison writes from Dallas. His latest book is "The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson." To find out more about William Murchison, and to see features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.