I read Douthat’s essay and was underwhelmed, his political focus is so utterly narrow, and he lacks curiosity, a trait which might just be essential when you are a pundit, or at the least claim that status.
The whole of the Republican political trajectory since the Generation of Treason of post WWII, Welfare Queens driving Cadillacs of Reagan to Willy Horton and beyond has been the cultivation of political necromancy. Given that why is Trump a political surprise? Mr. Douthat should have been reading the ultra-respectable Financial Times, where Luce and Wolf and other hirelings, proclaimed the bad news of The Rebellion Against the Elites, in Europe and America. In sum, Mr. Douthat is an utterly parochial thinker and writer.
On the question of Paul Ryan, he is ruled by one imperative, an unslakable political ambition. He even publicly renounced his Randian Faith, in the face criticism of the Evangelicals: who rule the Republican Party with political ferocity, as to the primacy of an Old Testament God, interpreted by the inheritors of the mantle of Cotton Mather