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The Ryan Fantasy

Politico reports [1] that Paul Ryan isn’t running a phantom campaign for president despite some appearances to the contrary:

Ryan’s orbit firmly believes that, in a few months, everyone will look at this bubble and realize just how ridiculous it was.

They say the national media are misreading his moves. Even if Ryan did have an itch to run for president, he could not swipe the nomination from a front-runner with 1,000 delegates, give or take, or a field of 17 candidates that spent months and millions of dollars vying for the job. If Ryan wants some sort of future in Republican politics, he cannot be seen as going to the party convention in July and stealing the nomination from Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Speculation about Ryan’s intentions strikes me as little more than this year’s version of the 2012 fantasy candidate gossip that a few pundits indulged in last time. During the 2012 cycle, we kept hearing from Bill Kristol et al. that it wasn’t too late for the field to include more candidates, and one name after another was floated to stave off the boredom of Romney’s inevitable victory. This year the outcome is much less certain, but the desire to find a new candidate late in the process is still there. Ryan was the subject of such speculation in 2011 and again in 2014 and 2015, so it was probably bound to start up again now that it looks as if there really could be a contested convention. But it still doesn’t make sense, not least because Ryan seems genuinely unwilling to fill the role that is being created for him.

Besides, are we really supposed to think that making a video from Ryan’s underwhelming speech [2] on politics from earlier this spring represents the launch of an effort to snatch the nomination through convention shenanigans? The content of the speech was so anodyne and unremarkable that it would not have been out of place at a No Labels conference. Decrying identity politics is probably one of the least risky positions one can take in the GOP, since almost all Republicans would vehemently deny that they practice it. If Ryan is angling for the White House at all, it would have to be for a future [3] election cycle [4] and not this one.

Even if Ryan is looking ahead to the next election, I’m skeptical that he would be the one that the GOP gets behind. No one has secured the nomination of either major party running from the House in well over a century, and I doubt Ryan will be the one to change that. It sometimes happens that a party will nominate a losing VP nominee from a previous election, but it is unusual and it hasn’t happened in decades. Assuming that the GOP loses the presidential election this year, Ryan will be stuck for the next four years in the unenviable position of playing Boehner’s role while dealing with a Clinton White House, and any deals he makes along the way will be held against him by quite a few primary voters. It’s possible that Republicans will be so tired of losing presidential elections by that point that they won’t care about any compromises Ryan makes, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

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13 Comments To "The Ryan Fantasy"

#1 Comment By EliteCommInc. On April 12, 2016 @ 10:35 am

I like Speaker Ryan. But that he would allow himself to get embroiled in the shenanigans of derailing candidates in any manner at all is peculiar and would loud any future ambitions he might have for the WH.

#2 Comment By Scott_api On April 12, 2016 @ 11:32 am

I always assumed his reluctance to take the Speaker role was because it would potentially hinder a run for President – based on how difficult the job is currently trying to juggle so many opposing factions with in the GOP. The potential for failure, and ending up like his predecessor was very high for the little reward to come of it.

Ending up with the nomination out of this convention over Trump and Cruz guarantees a loss in November, and severely cripples any shot at the WH he may have.

I think he is smart enough to know that and is actively seeking ways to NOT to come out of the convention with the nomination

#3 Comment By tsn On April 12, 2016 @ 12:38 pm

Ryan is ultimate conman. Ryan got the reputation of being a wonk when he gave a presentation where he used four power points slides of couple of graph lines and numbers showing that the country must raise the retirement age for plumbers, electricians, construction workers because lawyers and CEOs are living longer. He’s been giving lip service about improving the lives of the poor but when you look at his proposals it’s the same old same old ‘Tax Cuts for me (the donors); benefit cuts for thee (poor and middle class).’ Same old Ayn Rand philosophy: Lets praise the plutocrats. We give them the tax cuts and it will trickle down to ‘those people’.

#4 Comment By Sean Scallon On April 12, 2016 @ 12:51 pm

“During the 2012 cycle, we kept hearing from Bill Kristol et al. that it wasn’t too late for the field to include more candidates, and one name after another was floated to stave off the boredom of Romney’s inevitable victory.”

Maybe if the national press would stop taking him seriously we wouldn’t have to suffer his punditry masking itself as own delusions.

Wisconsin Republicans and their conservatives flunkies have been bandying about Ryan’s name as the nominee for some time. Indeed, Ryan’s possible nomination may well motivate them and the state’s GOP voters to back Cruz last week because, after all, you can’t stop the running back and cause a fumble without a tackler can you? Instead they may well have shot themselves a wooden duck again.

Had Trump won it’s more than likely the national party apparatus would have resigned itself to Trump and the temporary purgatory he would have put them in and hoped that gerrymandering and Super PAC dollars would save the downballot candidates. Instead, Cruz wins and he thinks he can be the nominee and shows once again he use any means fair or unfair to win. Those Republicans who cried foul when Ron Paul was trying to do the same thing in ’08 and ’12 are engaging in the same behavior in the back end of the process and it’s impressing no one. If it’s true Trump’s presence in the race is boosting GOP turnout in the primaries (and may have well re-elected a state Supreme Court justice in Wisconsin last week) those voters aren’t going to be around in the fall if their champion has the nomination they think he should have by virtue of states won and total votes won ripped away from him and given to a party insider (who has primary challenger by the way). Inflating Cruz only keeps his delusions of being the nominee going and forces a situation of, as one poster on another thread puts its, “drama where its is not needed.

In a closed GOP primary in New York, Cruz is polling THIRD! This is not the future nominee of the party but so long as pundits and party machines like those in Wisconsin keep making him think he is in order to find someone else on the fourth ballot, they’re just making a bad, divisive situation even worse. Ryan the party hack, losing vice-presidential candidate, having won no primaries and having no delegates coming into the convention will no more legitimate was in the eyes of millions of Republican voters than Hubert Humphrey after Chicago 1968.

#5 Comment By rayray On April 12, 2016 @ 1:00 pm

@tsn
Couldn’t have put it better.

#6 Comment By jk On April 12, 2016 @ 1:11 pm

Ryan is the ultimate no-skin in the game hypocrite. He acts as if he is some Ayn Rand reading libertarian but worked for government most of his life and supports the party that is pro-us taxpayer funded welfare for foreign nations through “nation building.”

#7 Comment By Midwesterner On April 12, 2016 @ 1:27 pm

Larison: “It sometimes happens that a party will nominate a losing VP nominee from a previous election, but it is unusual and it hasn’t happened in decades.”

Bob Dole in 1996 fits that description. Does 20 years ago count as “decades”?

#8 Comment By Daniel Larison On April 12, 2016 @ 1:31 pm

“Does 20 years ago count as “decades”?”

Is that a serious question?

#9 Comment By SFBay On April 12, 2016 @ 3:32 pm

What? 20 years IS 2 decades. I guess Midwestern education doesn’t include basic math.

#10 Comment By EliteCommInc. On April 12, 2016 @ 3:51 pm

Seriously, the fact Speaker Ryan advocates for more refined government does not make a conman.

Not in the least. The record is very clear on the consequence of the cuts made in the late 1990’s. The lives of the poor were markedly increased. Most notably so did their employment.
____________

Abiding by the letter is convenient — the reference to decades is hardly indicative of two. But the letter is a convenient place to hide

#11 Comment By WillW On April 12, 2016 @ 8:54 pm

I cannot abide these people who go to DC immediately after graduation work as a staffer and at think tanks, then get elected to Congress. For the love of Pete, at least get a law degree and put in a year or two as a state’s attorney or some such. Maybe even dare I say, do a hitch in the military. No, working a year in the family business to prove you still like your brats and beer doesn’t count.

#12 Comment By CharleyCarp On April 13, 2016 @ 10:55 am

Pierce gets it right here: [5]

#13 Comment By liberal On April 13, 2016 @ 4:54 pm

EliteCommInc wrote,

The record is very clear on the consequence of the cuts made in the late 1990’s. The lives of the poor were markedly increased. Most notably so did their employment.

Nope. Not anymore than that they were caused by Clinton raising the top marginal tax rate a few years earlier.

The lives of the poor were improved by the economic expansion of the late 1990s. Which had two causes: the dot com bubble (which wasn’t an entirely good thing); and Alan Greenspan (whatever his other numerous crimes) not buying into economic orthodoxy and raising interest rates the moment the unemployment rate started to get “too low”.