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With Kevin McCarthy out, Rep. Paul Ryan is — inevitably — under immense pressure to run for speaker of the house and to give Boehner a way out of it. Ryan, however, has made it abundantly clear for years that he does not want the job.
Every politician under the sun talks about their family when choosing not to run for some higher office, so it’s no surprise that Ryan says he wants to be based in Janesville, Wisconsin and see his three kids as much as possible. But every remotely fair-minded reporter I’ve read ends up convinced that Paul Ryan actually means it and isn’t merely being coy.
He also means it when he says — as he has for years — that he’s a policy guy, not a political guy. He doesn’t want to round up votes; he wants to focus on ideas. He’s in his niche right now, and not easily replaced. Forcing him into a job outside his natural talent could destroy his ability to be the party’s de facto policy leader, and he knows it. And yet, if he were persuaded it were his duty for the good of the country, I think he would do it.
Ryan holds the respect of much of the caucus in a way neither Boehner nor McCarthy could. Even as some conservatives urge Rep. Trey Gowdy to run, Gowdy took himself out — and essentially endorsed a theoretical Ryan bid.
Does Ryan, after all, have the talent to do the job Boehner and McCarthy can’t? Or would it simply be a cruel waste of policy talent and an honorable reputation to put him in an impossible job he does not want?
It is beyond my judgment, and most of ours. God give the man wisdom.