In this morning’s Washington Examiner, as Willie Beamen points out below, Michael Barone reports on an incident that took place Thursday night shortly before Paul Ryan gave the speech at the Alexander Hamilton Society on foreign policy that I discussed in my last post. Here is what Michael has to say:
One question hung over the meeting, and was briefly mentioned by National Review editor Rich Lowry in his 20-minute colloquy with Ryan after the speech: Will Paul Ryan run for president? Before the talk began I asked Ryan if he had read Paul Rahe’s ricochet.com blogpost entitled “Paul Ryan: A Duty to Serve.” Ryan has said that one reason he is not interested in running for president is that he would have to spend time away from his family, including three young children. Rahe, referencing Jennifer Rubin’s reflections in her Washington Post Right Turn blog on how Navy sailors and officers spend months away from their families, argues that Ryan has a duty to serve. His final paragraph is pretty strong stuff. It reads:
I do not know Paul Ryan. I am not acquainted with him. I have never even met the man. If I knew him at all well, I would walk into his office and slap down on his desk Jennifer Rubin’s post. As she points out, lots of Americans in uniform have answered their country’s call. Here is the question I would ask Ryan: “In this crisis, how can you of all people justify not doing what those soldiers have done?” And here is the argument that I would make: “You have the preparation; you have the training; you have the temperament; you have the knowledge; you have the persuasive capacity. We now face a great crisis, and you understand what has to be done better than anyone else. Your country needs you. In the circumstances, what possible excuse could trump that? You have a duty to serve.”
Before the speech I asked Ryan if he was aware of Rahe’s piece. He said someone on his staff had mentioned it. I asked whether he was going to run for president. He said (this is not quite an exact quote), I’m going to stay where I am. It’s easier. He added that he really thought Mitch Daniels was going to run and had gained that impression when talking to him three or four times before he made his decision not to. I asked him, What is the filing deadline for running for reelection in Wisconsin? He said it was in July. Which means, of course, that he could run for president and if not successful in the Republican nomination process could still run for reelection to the House.
Michael is a journalist and an historian. His book The Almanach of American Politics, which he revises every two years, is the Bible of the Beltway. He knows more about American politics and American political history than any man alive – which is why I think you might want to take seriously the last two paragraphs of his report:
After the speech and colloquy I handed Ryan a paper copy of Rahe’s post and urged him to read it. He said he would. My guess is that Paul Ryan is giving serious consideration to running for president, and that something like Paul Rahe’s call to duty rather than any crass political calculation is likely to persuade him to do so. I note that over at the Huffington Post Jon Ward seems to be drawing a similar conclusion, citing Ryan’s statement to Fox Business News’s Neil Cavuto that “I want to see how the field develops.”
By the way, how often do House Budget Committee chairmen give speeches about foreign policy?
Ryan Streeter, editor of ConservativeHome, has started a Draft-Ryan petition. If you think as I do, you might want to do as I just did and go to this webpage and sign on. In the meantime, someone should remind Ryan of what Brutus said to Cassius in a moment far less auspicious than the one we now face:
There is a tide in the affairs of men./Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;/Omitted, all the voyage of their life/Is bound in shallows and in miseries./On such a full sea are we now afloat,/And we must take the current when it serves,/Or lose our ventures.
The fact that Brutus was in error regarding the situation he confronted does not alter the fact that what he told Cassius was true. This is Paul Ryan's moment. He stands on the cusp of greatness. He needs to seize the time.