Wednesday, April 11, 2018


Paul Ryan is leaving Congress, and he's going out with a sob story, of course:
Growing emotional at points, Mr. Ryan said family considerations weighed heavily on his retirement, explaining that his daughter was 13 when he became speaker and he did not want to be a remote figure in her teenage years.
Partly through surrogates, Ryan was also trying to make us feel sorry for him back in December, when rumors of a possible retirement first surfaced. At the time, Politico told us this:
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.
It's always about him. This is from a 2014 National Journal profile:
“I’M NOT GO­ING TO be in Con­gress 10 years from now,” Ry­an tells me one Septem­ber af­ter­noon. “I can be defin­it­ive about that.”

“You won’t be in Con­gress in 10 years?”

“No. God, no. I’ve already been there 16 years. I don’t want to be a ca­reer guy. Even though I’ve been there a long time, where you could already say that...” He stops him­self. “It’s just, I don’t want to spend my adult life in Con­gress.”

... This is a per­son who ... found his 55-year-old fath­er dead, and who knows that neither his grand­fath­er nor his great-grand­fath­er lived to see 60.

... “I think mor­tal­ity weighs on him,” says Bill Ben­nett, the former Edu­ca­tion sec­ret­ary and drug czar who has grown in­to something of a polit­ic­al fath­er fig­ure to Ryan. “That’s the first ques­tion the doc­tor asks: ‘How old was your fath­er when he died? How old was your grand­fath­er?’"
I lost my father at a young age, but I haven't spent my adult life playing the dead-dad card for sympathy, so I don't want to hear it from Ryan, nor do I want to hear about how devoted he is to his family.

But this stuff works. It works on mainstream-media journalists, at least. It's the kind of thing that used to work on the public, at least before voters in one of our major political parties decided they prefer candidates who are rage monsters rather than (real or ersatz) Boy Scouts with heart-tugging backstories.

I bring this up because I worry that Axios's Jonathan Swan and Mike Allen are right:
Ryan, 48, ... has long harbored presidential ambitions. Friends say he could make another run in the future.
Which is why I hope he cashes in in a major way. I hope the fat cats he's helped to enrich in his political career enable him to make so much money for so little work once he's out of Congress that he can't imagine giving it up to run for office again.

But I worry. I worry that, just to keep his name before the public, he'll combine his cash grab with sober-minded appearances on Sunday talk shows and Morning Joe and op-ed pages. (I don't think we'll see him on the New York Times op-ed page or at The Atlantic -- the editors there are looking for "edgy," and he's anything but. I'm guessing The Washington Post, next to Gerson, Thiessen, and Ed Rogers, or The Wall Street Journal, alongside Karl Rove.) I worry that he'll also be seen engaging in some earnest-seeming, Catholic-flavored charitable enterprise that will make him appear soulful and empathetic.

If that's what we see him doing (in a very public way), watch out: he's running. Remember, he'll still be in his fifties in 2024 and 2028. If he ever wants to run for president, he has years to consider it. And who could possibly have more plutocrat backing?

That's why I hope the money is so great that he seizes it with both fists and never looks back.

No comments: