While people like Laura Ingraham celebrated the news that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan would be stepping down in January and would not be seeking any other other elected office — she rather bewilderingly indicated the decision meant the “GOP establishment” is “out of steam” and finally giving in to MAGA — the calls came almost simultaneously that Ryan should step away RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE to clear the way for the inevitable battle between Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Steve Scalise to fill his sizable shoes.
At risk of being rude: people really need to show a little respect for the man. If he wants to serve out his term, let him.
He’s raised a lot of money, done a thankless job, and taken generally unfair hits to his reputation. He’s admirably straddled the line between a candidate (and now-president) who was the polar opposite of the Republicanism Ryan understands and appreciates, and the constituency that wanted to make good and sure that progressive policy ideas never got more entrenched than they were under former President Barack Obama, no matter what that meant. Anyone but Hillary.
Ryan worked tirelessly on passage of a largely successful tax overhaul and managed to maintain a smile in spite of the ruthless calls for his scalp from the centrists. And the establishment. And the Trumpers. And the anti-Trumpers, depending on the day and what was going on in the news.
And he had to fight like hell to find common ground with the new chief executive to make a dream of tax relief — one he had for every American — come true:
Trump changed everything, and Trumpism is an unapologetic repudiation of nearly everything Ryan once stood for. Overhauling entitlements and pursuing austerity in government animated Ryan; Trump ran against any changes to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Ryan was always an outspoken free trader and believer in the power of markets; Trump is a protectionist who has pursued tariffs and started a trade war. Ryan has supported comprehensive immigration reform and making the Republican Party more inclusive. He’s an internationalist who supports global engagement. The speaker fashioned himself as a policy wonk and a nitty-gritty numbers guy. Trump is anything but.
He has spent time away from an adored family and no doubt exhausted his very soul in his role as public servant, and now he’s chosen to do the right thing and step away so he doesn’t become a Rep. Nancy Pelosi or Sen. Harry Reid, setting up never-ending shop on The Hill and becoming increasingly irrelevant until one day you get beaten up by your exercise equipment only to find yourself incapable of winning your reliable base.
No Ryan, through it all and now as he says his long goodbye, has remained rather remarkably steadfast, loyal to his principles, and decent.
“I’m an old Jack Kemp guy that believes strongly in inclusive, aspirational politics that are based on bringing people together and not exploiting divisions,” Ryan said in an interview Wednesday afternoon in his Capitol suite. “With identity politics being played all around and 21st-century technology accelerating it, and putting gas on the fire — that is my big concern of politics these days. And that makes it harder to have political goodwill in this country because of all this polarization.”
And yet “conservatives” like Ingraham tighten their fists, laugh without mirth, and suggest that maybe he should pack his bags yesterday.
Helluva a way to thank a man. Interesting look you’re going for there, true-Cons.