“Everything Trump touches dies, and the speaker’s legacy is no exception.”
From The Daily Beast:
The news that Paul Ryan is retiring from Congress was received by grim-faced members of the GOP caucus finally realizing what they’ve done, and what’s coming. Ryan pulled the ripcord today after a 19-year career in Congress, declaring he would leave Washington at the end of his current term to spend more time with his existential angst over what he let Donald Trump do to our country.
The happy talk about holding the House is over. The spin for the press, the rubes, and the donor class just came to a shrieking halt. Nancy Pelosi is in her crone cavern, cackling with glee, knowing that the Democrats are now in play in almost 80 Congressional seats. The general of the House Republican army just announced he’s leaving the field just as the tide of political war looks most grim.
Ryan and his caucus hoped to run on the tax cut, the economy, and infrastructure. All of these messages now will be swept aside. Ryan owns his share of the blame; too often, he behaved as if he was some deferential junior VP at a Trump resort and not the leader of the House of Representative in a co-equal branch of government. The idea, popular among the House leadership, that a diet of ass-kissing and deference would make Trump into a normal President who didn’t need the political equivalent of Depends was always a strategic mistake.
Ryan is now paying the price. The rest of his caucus will pay in the Fall.
The election season will now feature a Republican leadership fight with all the reality-TV tropes we’ve come to expect in this vulgar, stupid age as it inevitably devolves into a shabby bidding war over who will be more amenable and obedient to Donald Trump. The purity tests from Fox News, the screeching teenagers in the Donnie Trump Tiger Beat Breitbart Fan Club, and Trump himself will ensure this contest — like every damn thing in America today — is All About Him.
Ryan’s unfulfilled agenda, including entitlement reform, is now a dead letter, along with the hopes so many in the conservative movement had reposed in him. The Kochs and dozens of other free-market folks were invested in Paul Ryan’s future. Those investments were squandered like Granny’s Social Security check at the Trump Taj Mahal. Regardless of who replaces Ryan, the agenda of limited-government conservatism based on fiscal probity, personal responsibility, free trade, and limited government is as dead Donald Trump’s marriage.
A top Ryan aide texted me this morning: “It’s going to be a civil war. No one knows how bad this will get. Kevin [McCarthy] is such a fucking moron he’s going to get rolled by Pelosi every day. FML.”
Another Ryan insider echoed the “civil war” sentiment, and noted that Ryan’s decision will set off still another wave of Republican retirements.