EDITORIAL: Negotiable GOP values

York Dispatch
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, after the Annual Friends of Ireland luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Cheriss May/Sipa USA/TNS)

By many accounts, Paul Ryan is a decent guy.

As columnist Richard Cohen noted last week, the youthful, earnest Ryan “would make a splendid president of any chamber of commerce.”

But as a leader of his Republican party and country — when his personal and political convictions were tested — the outgoing Speaker of the House failed.

It’s a story as old as the Bible.

Morals, ethics and even the deficit reduction he championed for so long? Ryan denied them all.

Now the rooster has crowed for gentleman from Wisconsin, and he's simply walking away.

At any point along this process, Ryan could have taken a stand for his beliefs and stuck to it.

That last part is key — he tsk, tsked at Donald Trump’s disgusting Access Hollywood tape, mouthed the right words in response to the president's “very fine” racists remarks, and excused Trump’s vilification of the honorable men and women in law enforcement probing his conduct.

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But Ryan didn’t stand fast in the face of those and other afronts.

His compass was not particularly fixed, and he slumped, lower and lower, finally announcing last week his intention to slink away.

He’s not alone. Plenty of good Republicans are fleeing office rather than fighting for the heart and soul of their party.

With his announcement last week, Ryan now answers to no one but himself for the next few months.

Perhaps, unburdened by election-year calculus, he'll finally become a voice for common American values and a critic of those who attack them. Better late than never, we suppose.

If Ryan cares at all about our country and the rule of law, he can start to show it by throwing his full support behind legislation to protect the special counsel probing possible misconduct by Trump and his cohorts.

With his firing of former FBI Director James Comey and reports of previous attempts to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, Trump has shown he's not above obstructing the investigation.

After the recent raid on the home and office of his personal attorney, the president is reportedly furious. There's no telling what he'll do as the walls close in on him.

That's why, two days after the FBI executed the search warrants against attorney Michael Cohen, a bipartisan group of senators resurrected their legislation aimed at protecting any special counsel from the whims of a renegade chief executive.

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Ryan should be loudly pledging to support such legislation in the House.

There's still time for him to grow a backbone.

There's still time for him to stand up for decency.