According to White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, it came as a surprise. On Thursday, Politico published a report that certainly resembled wishful thinking about Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
Despite several landmark legislative wins this year, and a better-than-expected relationship with President Donald Trump, Ryan has made it known to some of his closest confidants that this will be his final term as speaker. He consults a small crew of family, friends and staff for career advice, and is always cautious not to telegraph his political maneuvers. But the expectation of his impending departure has escaped the hushed confines of Ryan’s inner circle and permeated the upper-most echelons of the GOP. In recent interviews with three dozen people who know the speaker—fellow lawmakers, congressional and administration aides, conservative intellectuals and Republican lobbyists—not a single person believed Ryan will stay in Congress past 2018.
Ryan was tiring of D.C. even before reluctantly accepting the speakership. He told his predecessor, John Boehner, that it would be his last job in politics—and that it wasn’t a long-term proposition. In the months following Trump’s victory, he began contemplating the scenarios of his departure. More recently, over closely held conversations with his kitchen cabinet, Ryan’s preference has become clear: He would like to serve through Election Day 2018 and retire ahead of the next Congress. This would give Ryan a final legislative year to chase his second white whale, entitlement reform, while using his unrivaled fundraising prowess to help protect the House majority—all with the benefit of averting an ugly internecine power struggle during election season. Ryan has never loved the job; he oozes aggravation when discussing intraparty debates over “micro-tactics,” and friends say he feels like he’s running a daycare center. On a personal level, going home at the end of next year would allow Ryan, who turns 48 next month, to keep promises to family; his three children are in or entering their teenage years, and Ryan, whose father died at 55, wants desperately to live at home with them full time before they begin flying the nest. The best part of this scenario, people close to the speaker emphasize: He wouldn’t have to share the ballot with Trump again in 2020.
That is the gist of the report.
It is no secret that Paul Ryan never wanted the Speaker’s job and that John Boehner had to talk him into it. However, this report is not like the announcements of so many lawmakers who are hanging it up after their current terms. They actually issued statements. Politico’s sources for this expose are unnamed. That alone makes the report suspect. This may well be yet another case of a leak meant to expose the people making them, but it is more likely that this story is setting the stage for Ryan’s exit whether he really wants to go or not.
Whichever is the case, the Politico piece goes on to layout strategies to replace Ryan. Really? He’s made no announcement himself, and the new wives are measuring for new furniture? That certainly doesn’t lend an air of credibility to any of it.
In addition, CNN posted an article on the reasons why he should resign, including this that repeats one of the mainstream media attack memes that close watchers of the president know not to be true despite the constant drumbeat of repetition.
3. Donald Trump: Yes, I know that people who are in a position to know say that Ryan and Trump get along better than was expected. But Ryan, more than anyone, has to know that Trump is mercurial and unpredictable. Who’s to say that Trump’s relationship with Ryan won’t go the way of Trump’s relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — where the President was openly suggesting that McConnell might need to step aside if tax reform didn’t pass?
The story that Ryan is contemplating retiring is being treated as Gospel truth and there looks to be a pile on of opinion that perhaps he really should retire to live full time with is kids. The question is why? Why Ryan?
For some reason, the Swamp wants him gone. Think about that.