Paul Ryan: Let's face it, if the election is a referendum on Trump he'll lose

This seems not just correct but obviously correct. If the public is given an up or down vote on a guy who can’t seem to top 44.4 percent in average job approval, odds are good that a majority will give thumbs down. And the White House agrees! It’s not a coincidence that Trump is already testing some bareknuckle attacks for next fall, like claiming that Democrats hate Jews. He won’t phrase it this way but his 2020 message will be “Whatever you may think of me, these liberals have become g-ddamned lunatics.” He won a lesser-of-two-evils election before, he can do it again.

But that obviously begins with framing the election as a choice, not a referendum on the incumbent. Which is Ryan’s point.

Ryan also blamed political division for gridlock in Congress, saying technology has created an outrage machine. He said people are “monetizing” emotions, causing “entertainment wings” of each party that focus on emotional responses rather than focusing on the merits of their parties…

Ryan also said he believes there are some Democrats who could beat President Donald Trump next year. He said Trump needs to define through policies, and not his personal brand.

“The person who defines that race is going to win the race. If this is about Donald Trump and his personality, he isn’t going to win it,” Ryan said.

Pretty straightforward — although you’d be forgiven for thinking that Ryan’s political instincts are so poor that Trump would be better off doing the opposite of what he recommends. He made his name politically on cutting entitlements, joined the ticket in 2012 and lost badly, aggravated the populist base for years by working quietly towards comprehensive immigration reform, tried to throw Trump overboard in 2016 after the “Access Hollywood” tape emerged, then got nothing done for two years with total control of government apart from (deep breath) a tax cut that mostly benefited the rich. (Ryan would say with plenty of justification that that’s the Senate’s fault, not his. It wasn’t his caucus that choked on repealing ObamaCare, remember.) The Trumps haven’t forgotten!

Yes, yes it was certainly Ryan whom all those swing voters had in mind when they pulled the lever for Democrats last year. I think Junior’s test-driving some 2020 messaging himself here. Even if POTUS wins the court fight over emergency funding for the wall, there won’t be much new construction to show righty voters next fall as hard evidence that he kept his big promise. Trump will need someone to blame and Pelosi won’t cut it for the obvious reason that she didn’t take power until halfway through his term. He’ll look for a RINO to scapegoat, someone out of office so that he can pick on them without making too many new enemies among congressional Republicans. Guess who it’ll be.

Speaking of VP candidates from the 2012 cycle, it sounds like the other guy from that race will also have a role next year.