The demands on Ryan to run are coming from all quarters, most intensely from the top of the congressional wing of the Republican Party. According to sources familiar with the efforts to get Ryan to move from an extremely reluctant “maybe” to a grudging “yes,” he has been in extensive contact with [John] Boehner, [Kevin] McCarthy, and Oregon Congressman Greg Walden.National Review wants him to run. Mitt Romney wants him to run. Joe Scarborough says he literally has to run. Even the chairman of the conservative-purist House Freedom Caucus now says the caucus "would look favorably" on Ryan.
Politico says Republicans are "pleading" with Ryan. The New York Times says the party is "desperate" for him.
Um, whatever happened to the GOP's "deep bench"?
I know we used to talk about the "deep bench" in reference to Republicans' presidential prospects. They had a huge field that included many well-known figures, some of them in their forties and fifties; Democrats had, well, Hillary Clinton. Now, however, it's obvious that the Republicans have an incredibly weak field -- it just happens to be a large incredibly weak field. The leading presidential candidates are two non-politicians in their sixties; there are young, fresh officeholders -- Paul, Cruz, Jindal, Christie -- but they're embarrassments.
The same thing is happening in the House, right? Republicans have a House majority larger than any they've had in our lifetimes, a mix of fresh faces and veterans -- but nearly all of these folks came up in a succession of angry eras -- the eras of Gingrich, Bush/Cheney, and the Tea Party. None of them, it seems, can function as adults while still working in concert with the party's overgrown children.
Whether you're a Republican presidential candidate or a Republican Speaker candidate, you need to be presentable to the larger public, but that's next to impossible because you also have to appeal to infantile anarchists. In the presidential field, maybe Marco Rubio can thread that needle -- maybe. In the House, apparently if Ryan continues to say no, there's no one else who can handle the job.
So no one is actually capable of suiting up and running onto the field to play either of these positions -- but if you want a lot of people who can't do it, then, yes, the GOP has a deep bench.