What's Next for Paul Ryan?

El Dorado News-Times - - Viewpoint - PETER ROFF

House Speaker Paul Ryan didn't quite yell" aban­don ship" Wed­nes­day when he an­nounced he would not be seek­ing re-elec­tion, but he came close. His de­par­ture, which won't come un­til Jan­uary of next year, is too lit­tle, too late to save the Repub­li­can ma­jor­ity in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

In mak­ing his an­nounce­ment, re­mind­ing us all he did not want the job but rather took it out of a sense of obli­ga­tion, he said he'd ac­com­plished what he wanted to do. Yes, the Congress passed tax re­form and the pres­i­dent signed it, but he's lit­tle else to show for his three years in charge.

Per­haps he should have lis­tened to his gut when it told him to re­main chair­man of the Com­mit­tee on Ways and Means a job, frankly, for which he was much bet­ter suited. He's a pol­icy wonk who can de­ci­pher a spread­sheet with the best of them but he's also a crea­ture of Wash­ing­ton which makes him the wrong man at this mo­ment in his­tory.

Ryan never seemed to grasp that the peo­ple who voted for Don­ald Trump did so out of a de­sire to see Wash­ing­ton stood on its head. Tem­per­a­men­tally he's was a much bet­ter fit for the likes of Mitt Rom­ney, who chose him as his run­ning mate in 2012 and the other mem­bers of the Wash­ing­ton es­tab­lish­ment than he is for the peo­ple who have joined the cru­sade to save the city by, if nec­es­sary, first burn­ing it to the ground.

What­ever gifts he may have for pol­icy mat­ters and for fundrais­ing, which he did prodi­giously, Ryan's ear for pol­i­tics was made of tin. His lead­er­ship was less than in­spir­ing when the ideas in­volved were out­side his wheel­house.

His fi­nal ac­com­plish­ment, if you can call it that, was a bunker buster of an om­nibus bill that blew the hard-won spend­ing caps es­tab­lished by Obama and his im­me­di­ate pre­de­ces­sor as speaker, Ohio's John Boehner, into the next uni­verse. There's sim­ply no ex­cuse for a Repub­li­can-con­trolled Congress, even one with a ma­jor­ity as pre­car­i­ous as it now is in the U.S. Sen­ate to have passed a bill as reck­less as what Ryan and Sen­ate Repub­li­can Leader Mitch McCon­nell sent to the pres­i­dent. Bet­ter a weeks' long gov­ern­ment shut down than that mon­stros­ity.

It's pos­si­ble Ryan can redeem him­self from that par­tic­u­lar sin by get­ting be­hind a move­ment that's be­gun to have Pres­i­dent Trump send to Congress a pro­posal to undo some of the new spend­ing just ap­proved. If he did it would pro­vide a much-needed shot in the arm to vot­ers con­cerned about tax and spend is­sues who are now in a funk over the om­nibus and are hav­ing trou­ble re­mem­ber­ing why hav­ing Ryan as speaker is prefer­able to Cal­i­for­nia's Nancy Pelosi.

An­nounc­ing his de­ci­sion now a re­mark­ably un-glo­ri­ous even self­ish move. He's waved the white flag, get­ting out while the get­ting's good no mat­ter what hap­pens in the next elec­tion. He may want it to ap­pear he's still en­gaged but he's made it clear it's ev­ery man and woman for them­selves come Novem­ber. That's not lead­er­ship.

Roff is a for­mer se­nior po­lit­i­cal writer for UPI and a well-known com­men­ta­tor based in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. Email him at peter.Roff@Ver­i­zon.net.

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