Clock is ticking for Ryan

There’s good news and bad news for Mahoning Valley Congressman Tim Ryan as he tries to gain traction in his bid for the Democratic nomination for president.

The good: Ryan has qualified – albeit barely – to participate in the crucial debates in June or July. There are so many candidates in the Democratic sweepstakes – former Vice President Joe Biden leads the pack – that participants will be divided into two groups. The gabfest will be held over two days in each month.

The bad: Ryan does not have much money, and that is becoming a commentary on his viability as a challenger to Republican President Donald J. Trump, who is already rolling in dough.

Unseating Trump in 2020 will take a combination of things, foremost of which are money and a willingness to tangle with the president in the muck and mire of politics.

As he showed in the 2016 election, nothing is off limits for Trump, who has used his wealth and power as a cudgel. He has surrounded himself with sycophants.

One of the Democratic candidates, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, already has taken off the gloves. In an interview on National Public Radio, Gillibrand called Trump a coward.

Those are the kind of fighting words Ryan needs to adopt.

Here’s some unsolicited advice for the congressman: Rent the movie “Stand Up Guys” starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin.

It’s a tale of good vs. evil with exceptional acting and great dialogue.

There’s a particular scene featuring the good guys that should inspire Ryan.

Doc (Walken): “What time is it?”

Hirsch (Arkin): “I don’t know. What time is it?”

Val (Pacino): “It’s time to kick ass or chew gum”

Doc (Walken): “And guess what? I’m all out of gum.”

Ryan had the chance Wednesday to stop chewing and kick Trump’s a--, instead. But he fell short.

One-minute speech

He took to the floor of the House and gave a one-minute speech on the unexpected closing of Falcon Transport and the end of car production at GM’s Lords-town assembly plant.

To be sure, Ryan’s passion – and even fire in the belly – was on full display. However, the brief speech lacked the one ingredient that would have immediately separated him from the other Democratic candidates: A headline-grabbing swipe at Trump.

He could have ended his speech with something like this: “Mr. President, you came into my district and promised my people that you would reopen the giant steel mills and create thousands of auto manufacturing jobs. You told them not to sell their homes. But that was all BS. So, here’s an idea, Mr. Trump. Come back to the Valley and I’ll debate you on who best understands America’s working men and women. We’ll meet in the center of the football field in YSU’s Stambaugh Stadium, with thousands of people in attendance.”

Trump won’t accept that challenge, so Ryan should look to the next best thing.

Given that the debates will be crowded (the cartoon on this page aptly illustrates the situation) he needs to come up with a one-line zinger that will have reporters swooning.

Did Ryan learn nothing as an intern in the office of the late Congressman James A. Traficant Jr., who gained a national following because of his profane, no-holds-barred speeches?

“Beam me up!”