It's hard to believe it's already been a year since we were forced to watch Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton trade barbs at the annual white tie Al Smith charity dinner. But time, it flies, and tonight the Catholic elites will gather again to benefit the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation—this time, with House Speaker Paul Ryan as the keynote guest. Unsurprisingly, there's some dissent.
Ryan, who is apparently devoted to Catholicism in addition to ending the nation's healthcare system, will headline the $3K-plus-a-plate dinner at the New York Hilton Midtown tonight, following in the footsteps of previous honorees like Stephen Colbert, Michael Bloomberg, Colin Powell, and James Carville and Mary Matalin. Ryan was invited to speak by the Archdiocese of New York, which heralded his "commitment to empowering local organizations in the community," as well as his involvement with his own parish in Wisconsin.
New York archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan is a Ryan admirer, having declared himself as such in a radio interview with the Speaker back in 2014. "A lot of people are fans of yours, Congressman Ryan, and I’m one of them," Dolan said, later calling Ryan a "man of deep principle and conviction."
Of course, there are some who find fault with Ryan's leadership in Congress, and a number of immigration advocate groups are organizing a rally outside the Hilton to protest Ryan's failure to bring the DREAM Act to the House floor, thus leaving immigrant youths without a clear path to citizenship.
"For months, Speaker Paul Ryan has refused to meet with immigrant youth from his own district, and they are deeply offended that Cardinal Dolan would give Speaker Ryan such a high profile at an event meant to raise charitable contributions for young people when his actions run so contrary to that mission," rally organizers posted on the event's Facebook page. "Paul Ryan has the power to bring a clean DREAM Act to the floor, creating a path to citizenship for Dreamers. Instead, he is playing the white supremacist game of Trump and Sessions—trying to use the lives of DACAmented young adults as bargaining chips to advance their racist agenda." Protestors plan to meet at 5 p.m. outside the hotel.
Anyway, if you would like to watch Ryan's speech for some reason, it'll be live-streaming here. Speakers are usually expected to make some jokes, so, brace yourselves.