When House Speaker John Boehner announced last month that he was resigning from Congress, the GOP was left in a tight spot. They had to find a replacement who could capture the 218 House votes required to lock down the seat. It didn’t take long for congressman Kevin McCarthy — the only leader who seemed legitimately interested in filling the position — to figure out that he wasn’t that individual.
While McCarthy’s careless (some would say asinine) comments regarding the Benghazi committee certainly didn’t help his candidacy, it was the fact that he was a less conservative leader than John Boehner that sunk his chances. The same factions that had long pressured for the ouster of Boehner didn’t view McCarthy as a man who would be any more effective at advancing their goals. McCarthy saw that he wouldn’t b able to secure the votes he needed, so he dropped out of contention.
That’s when congressman Paul Ryan’s name began being tossed around. He was viewed as a potentially unifying figure with enough respect from both the GOP establishment and hard-nosed conservatives to bridge the giant divide that exists within the Republican-led House.
Ryan, however, made it very clear that he didn’t want the job. He outright rejected it several times, and who could blame him? Boehner had thoroughly demonstrated the grueling difficulty of aligning the Republicans in congress on most major issues.
Having already committed himself in recent years to running on a presidential ticket, and serving as the chairman of both the House Budget Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, Ryan understandably had little interest in taking on perhaps the second most stressful and time-intensive job in Washington.
Regardless, it became apparent that Ryan would likely be able to achieve the elusive number of votes required to take the speakership. Thus, the GOP put an intense amount of pressure on him to reconsider, if even on a temporary basis. Stuck in a desperate situation, leaders, lawmakers, and other influential conservative voices from across the nation virtually begged Ryan to bail the party out of the predicament — the predicament of their own making that left them with few viable alternatives.
After further deliberation, Ryan did right by his party. He announced last night that he would indeed step up and do his civic duty by running for the position.
“This is not a job I’ve ever wanted, I’ve ever sought,” Ryan said in his announcement. “I came to the conclusion that this is a dire moment, not just for Congress, not just for the Republican Party, but for our country.”
He added, “My greatest worry is the consequence of not stepping up. Of some day having my own kids ask me, when the stakes were so high, ‘Why didn’t you do all you could? Why didn’t you stand and fight for my future when you had the chance?’ None of us wants to hear that question.”
But, Ryan had some conditions for his candidacy…
He told his colleagues in the House that he would only run if he received endorsements from all of the major Republican caucuses, as a show of party unity. He said that he would seek to change the rule that allows a simple majority of the House to unseat a speaker. Lastly, he said that he would delegate much of the traveling and fundraising responsibilities that come with the role of Speaker, so that he could spend an adequate amount of time with his wife and school-age children.
“I cannot and will not give up my family time,” Ryan was quoted as saying.
The Washington Examiner’s Byron York summed it up well in a single tweet: “Ryan conditions: 1) Limit rules changes. 2) No motions to vacate chair. 3) Family time. 4) Unity. Give him that, he’ll serve. If not, fine.”
Sean Trende, Senior Elections Analyst at Real Clear Politics, tweeted his take: “Ryan said he didn’t want the job. Ppl begged. He said ‘fine, if you address why I don’t want the job, I’ll do it.’ Seems reasonable to me.”
Personally, I agree. Considering the circumstances, Ryan’s “take it or leave it” conditions make perfect sense. Prominent conservative commentators, on the other hand, expressed immediate outrage.
Within minutes, the top headline on the Drudge Report read, “King Paul: Pledge Your Allegiance.”
Radio host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham took to Twitter to call Ryan “spoiled”, “imperious”, and an “emperor.” She classified his conditions as “demands,” and repeatedly mocked him for prioritizing his family over party campaigning and fundraising.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m old enough to remember when conservatives valued strong families.
Ben Shapiro of The Daily Wire began a column he wrote last night on Ryan’s conditions with, “One of two things is true: either Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) doesn’t want the job of Speaker of the House, or he’s got a rather inflated opinion of himself.”
With all due respect, Mr. Shapiro… The former is a well-documented fact, so why the notion that this is about personal ego?
Erick Erickson went a few steps further in his column, titled “Paul Ryan Wants House Conservatives To Sign Their Own Death Warrant,” insisting that Ryan’s conditions are a ploy to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants.
Yes, Erick…It’s all about amnesty. Ugh.
Ann Coulter of course compared Ryan to Joseph Stalin, but that’s to be expected. She hasn’t said anything intelligent in years.
The bottom line is this: If conservatives object to Ryan’s conditions (which is a perfectly legitimate position), then they should tell their representatives in Congress not to vote for him and look for someone else. It’s that simple, and I doubt Ryan would even care.
Treating the guy like a dictator consolidating power, just because he answered his party’s impassioned pleas to unify them (while wanting to remain a good father to his kids), is a disgrace and a black eye on the conservative movement.
We must do better.