The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that Paul Ryan, Republican Congressman from Wisconsin and Speaker of the House (currently under Republican control) faces a tough climb if he means to hang onto his speakership after this election, particularly if a Trump loss at the top of the ticket carries down ballot and affects Republican control of the House:
My guess is that Ryan will fight for the speakership if he has to, but that he won’t be devastated if he doesn’t hold onto it. After all, he didn’t initially want the role in the first place, only taking it when it looked like he was the only one who could keep the two Republican factions together after the resignation of former House Speaker John Boehner (in the face of constant attacks from the right wing of the pary). One of the impressive things about Ryan is that, for a politician, he seems pretty content with himself. He’s not someone who’s always striving for the next, higher office or who seems to gauge his self-worth on the adulation he receives or the power of the positions he occupies. I get the feeling, in fact, that this is a man who would be quite comfortable packing it in and returning to private life if it came to that.
Ryan, indeed, seems like a guy who is more interested in the issues and in getting things done than in padding his political war chest (or his personal bank account) or in advancing his political career. Maybe he’d like to eventually run for president. Most politicians on the national stage, and many on more local stages, must see that as an ultimate goal, a place to really make their mark. For a guy like Ryan, it would certainly be a way to get things done. So, presumably, he is not without some ambition. and it would hardly surprise if he did decide to run for the presidency in 2020, at least assuming a Democratic win this year which is starting to look more and more likely. But it doesn’t seem to me that it’s all consuming with him, the way it is with our current crop of national figures — not to mention the front running Democratic nominee for president in this cycle and her Republican opponent who, by his own frequent admission, likes winning above just about anything else and loves being in charge.
Some Trump supporters have suggested that Ryan, in backing away from Trump, is really just looking to his own chances in 2020. Who knows, maybe that’s true. We can’t read his mind. But certainly nothing about his behavior in office at this juncture suggests anything more than a principled concern for this country and a strong desire to protect his party so that it can continue to be a vehicle for doing the things he believes are right.
The nation lost a lot when Paul Ryan chose not to try for the Republican nomination this year.