The term “useful idiot” comes from the world of spies, and was popularized during the Cold War. The kinder version of the term is “unwitting agent,” and it refers to anyone who helps unwittingly advance propaganda. For example, I wrote a column detailing how I think Edward Snowden was an unwitting Russian agent (if I disliked him, I’d probably call him a useful idiot, but I admire what he stands for, even if I think he got played by a system far bigger than what he thought he was upending).
So in that sense, Paul Ryan opened his big phony mouth today and willingly declared himself to be a useful idiot.
To summarize: Paul Ryan doesn't think the travel ban helps ISIS recruit—he thinks our opposition to the travel ban helps ISIS recruit. Which would make sense only if you shut yourself off to the entire world of known facts. Rukmini Callimachi is one of the best reporters keeping us up to date with the world of ISIS. She is constantly plugged in to their social channels and keeps us updated as to their chatter on a fairly regular basis. Here's a screenshot that she posted to Twitter a few days ago:
The “news” that ISIS shares on these channels typically comes from propaganda networks like Dabiq, their magazine. If they are sharing something from CNN, you know something real has gone down. Scrolling through Callimachi’s feed produces zero screenshots of ISIS celebrating the protests, which leads us to one of two conclusions:
1. One of America’s most intrepid reporters is willfully hiding a major news story from us.
2. Paul Ryan is full of shit.
Number two is almost always the case, as Paul Ryan practically has a patent on phoniness. He paints himself as a moral crusader hellbent on restoring fiscal order to Washington, when really he’s just the prime lackey for the D.C. establishment whose only agenda is cutting their taxes at the expense of the rest of us.
Paul Ryan’s political mannerisms, language, and priorities make him look like a carbon copy of Hillary Clinton. His fake “I really care about the little people” tone of voice and cadence are nearly identical to Hillary’s, and he is beholden to much of the same masters she serves. The D.C. oligarchy has the same agenda, they just put different faces on it depending on each party. Paul Ryan is the head of their GOP wing, and I genuinely feel sorry for anyone who still buys his shtick.
Paul Ryan is a phony who only cares about his own political gain. He’s not stupid—only when he wants to be—and his statement on the travel ban proves that there is no intellectual depth that he won’t sink to in order to keep his prime spot suckling at the teat of the oligarchy keeping the rest of us down.
Jacob Weindling is Paste’s business and media editor, as well as a staff writer for politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.