Hennessy's View

Paul Ryan’s Battle of Kasserine Pass

General George S. Patton arrived in North Africa with a single mission: lead the Allied forces to victory over the Hun.

But Patton’s assignment was also in response to a miserable and deadly failure of leadership. The failed leadership of General Lloyd Fredendall.

Fredendall was a Francophobe and an Anglophobe ill-suited to wage coalition warfare; a micromanager who bypassed the chain of command – giving orders as far down as company level; a coward, he allowed animus with subordinates to affect his judgment and undercut their authority; and finally, staring defeat in the face at Kasserine, he tried to pin the blame on others.

Abolishing Obamacare was to be the first battle of the new Republican government. For this battle, Republican forces had trained for nearly a decade. But, as we learn so often in history, peacetime generals and commanders mostly fail when the bullets start flying. For example, every US submarine commander in command on Pearl Harbor Day was relieved of command within a year. Mostly because they failed as wartime commanders.

When Trump won and the GOP retained the Senate, America transitioned to a political wartime footing. But Ryan’s boots aren’t up to that rugged turf.

Over on the news channels, the House of Representatives is about to kill Paul Ryan’s failed, horrible healthcare plan. I admit I was wrong yesterday. I expected the bill to pass. And I was okay with it passing. Yesterday.

Today, seeing Paul Ryan scramble, panic, and retreat, I’m glad the bill is failing. Like General Fredendall, Ryan arrived in his position with high expectations. Before his epic failure at the Battle of Kasserine Pass, Eisenhower wrote of Fredenall: “I bless the day you urged Fredendall upon me and cheerfully acknowledge that my earlier doubts of him were completely unfounded.”

Borrowing the words of Dwight Von Zimmermann who chronicled Fredendall’s failure, consider this:

Paul Ryan is a Trumpophobe and a populophobe ill-suited to wage populist warfare; a backroom conspirator who bypassed the House order, crafting a failed bill with lobbyists and cronies; a coward, he allowed animus with the Republican President to affect his judgment and undercut Trump’s authority; and, finally, staring defeat in the face at AHCA, his establishment cronies will try to pin the blame on the tea party.

It’s time for House Republicans to show the humility, wisdom, and leadership shown by Dwight Eisenhower. After Fredendall’s epic failure, Eisenhower ordered him to return stateside and occupy a desk until the end of the war. Fredendall might destroy the desk, but at least he wouldn’t be in a position to get people killed.

I call on the House Republicans, beginning with Missouri’s delegation, to move immediately to replace Paul Ryan as Speaker. Replace him with a leader in the mold of George Patton. Replace Ryan with a Speaker of character and strength equal to this historical inflection point.

Now, on to tax reform.


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