Paul Ryan’s failure as Speaker of the House is complete:

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday that President Trump has broad authority to attack Syria, precluding the need for Congress to act beforehand.

“The existing AUMF gives him the authority he needs to do what he may or may not do,” Ryan said during a press briefing in the Capitol.

Ryan has always been a predictable partisan loyalist and supporter of whatever a Republican president has wanted to do, so it is not surprising that he won’t stand up for Congress’ proper role in matters of war. Because he is Speaker of House, his usual abject cowardice is especially damaging at a time when the country needs Congressional leaders to reassert the legislative branch’s prerogatives against an overreaching executive. He had an opportunity last fall to let the House vote on H.Con.Res.81 to end U.S. support for the war on Yemen, but instead he made sure that it was torpedoed in a maneuver to prevent the resolution from coming to the floor. Now he has a chance to bring Trump’s likely attack on Syria up for a debate and vote, and instead he runs from his obligations in the most pathetic fashion possible.

Ryan just announced his retirement earlier this week in a tacit admission that the Republicans are about to lose control of the House, so he is theoretically freed from worrying about the electoral implications of his actions for the rest of his current term. I guess twenty years of time-serving and falling in line behind bad party leaders have accustomed him to doing the wrong thing in the name of party loyalty and not rocking the boat. Needless to say, Ryan’s legal argument is a bad joke. The 2001 AUMF cannot possibly apply to the use of force against the Syrian government, and it is an insult to the intelligence of every American to suggest that it does. Ryan’s misrepresentation of the 2001 AUMF is another reason why the authorization should be repealed as soon as possible. The political cover he is providing for an illegal attack on another state is one more reason why we should be glad that Ryan won’t be in government starting next year. Ryan has betrayed the institution he is supposed to lead and he has violated the oath of office that he swore when he took office.