"Trump Fatigue" Was Behind Paul Ryan's Decision To Leave Congress

As anybody with even a glancing familiarity with US politics might've guessed, Paul Ryan's decision to leave Congress - not to mention his position as Speaker of the House, a job that left him third in line to the presidency - was heavily influenced by his frustration with President Trump - a man whom he once disinvited to a gathering in Ryan's Congressional district after the "grab her by the p***y" bombshell dropped.


At least, that's what Politico surmised in a long-winded profile about Ryan that examines his rise in Washington from a Capitol Hill intern to leader of the Ways and Means Committee to vice presidential candidate and then, finally, speaker. In the words of an anonymous confidant quoted in the piece, Ryan has been suffering from a severe case of "Trump fatigue."

That seems like a lifetime ago. Ryan once dreamed of defeating Trump; he has since merely hoped to contain him. The gentleman from Wisconsin has spent the bulk of his speakership babysitting a president whose intemperate instincts and deficit of fundamental policy knowledge threaten to derail the party—and potentially the government and the country—at any moment. Ryan has grown weary of keeping watch. He confided to friends that while spending more time with family was the No. 1 motivator behind his exit, Trump fatigue was a close runner-up.

Trump won’t be Ryan’s problem for much longer. Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise, the speaker’s top lieutenants, have been shadowboxing for months and officially touched gloves Wednesday morning in a private meeting aimed at facilitating unity. It won’t last. Election Day is seven long months away, and factions are already emerging as the two men jockey—among donors, lobbyists and their fellow members—for support as the next Republican leader. One thing is certain: As McCarthy and Scalise campaign to lead the House GOP, they will do so as Trump Republicans. It’s his party now, without question or caveat.

Ryan told me last fall that the fractures in the Republican Party threatened to make governing impossible. “We basically run a coalition government,” he complained, “without the efficiency of a parliamentary system.” This was the story of John Boehner’s speakership. But the truth is, those internecine breakages are not what they used to be. The GOP has largely fallen in line since Trump’s nomination and election. And that means when historians ask the obvious questions—How did the party of fiscal sanity become the party of the biggest spending increase in modern history? How did the party of family values become the party of “grab them by the pussy”? How did the party of compassionate conservatism become the party of Muslim bans?—the answers will implicate not just Trump, but Ryan and other Republicans as well.

But perhaps the most ironic thing about this is that Trump and Ryan's partnership, rooted in what Politico sanctimoniously described as a "Faustian Bargain" has been amazingly successful. It allowed Ryan to accomplish two of his most long-sought goals: Passing tax reform and trashing Obamacare.

This was “Paul’s deal with the devil,” a phrase used by several of the speaker’s confidants in the days following Trump’s shocking triumph. Reince Priebus, his old friend and the chairman of the Republican National Committee, had told Ryan on Election Day that Hillary Clinton would win the presidency, and Ryan was prepared to give a speech soon afterward divorcing himself—and the party—from Trump once and for all. Instead, the speaker found himself staring down a Faustian bargain. Republicans had seized total control of Washington. And he might, over the next two years, have a chance to pursue the legislation of his dreams: repealing Obamacare, rewriting the tax code, reforming entitlement programs and rebuilding the military. But it would be possible only if he partnered with the very man whose offenses were so manifest that Ryan disinvited him from his own Wisconsin congressional district a month before the election.

Their alliance turned out to be stronger than anyone in either camp could have anticipated. Ryan carefully avoided criticizing the president while offering frequent elementary tutoring sessions on policy and process behind closed doors, grumbling only to a handful of close friends about the task; Trump reciprocated the speaker’s restraint and spared him of the sort of public shaming doled out to other Republicans, including Senate leader Mitch McConnell. By this metric—and considering the two major triumphs of his tenure, tax reform and boosted military funding—some allies will argue that Ryan’s shotgun marriage with Trump, and his speakership on the whole, was a success. “Paul will go down in history as having achieved more in a shorter period of time than any speaker of the House,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the speaker’s longtime friend, told me.

In the piece, Politico recalls how Ryan was perhaps the most reluctant Speaker of the House in recent memory, and that his political allies dragged him "kicking and screaming" into filling the post following John Boehner's decision to walk away.

From the moment he arrived in Washington—first as a college intern from the University of Miami-Ohio, and later as a waiter, think-tanker, Hill staffer and, ultimately, a member of Congress—Ryan had his sights on the House Ways and Means Committee. He had finally became chairman in early 2015, and it cannot be overstated just how sincerely Ryan loathed the idea of leaving that perch to become speaker of the House. Never in the modern era, and perhaps not in American history, has someone been dragged kicking and screaming into the most powerful position in Congress. It took weeks of frantic phone calls—from McCarthy, Priebus, Boehner, Mitt Romney, even Cardinal Timothy Dolan—to talk him into it, and even then he was reluctant. “Paul really didn’t want this job, although he accepted the fact that he had to do it. At the time, there was exactly one person in the Congress who could get 218 votes,” Boehner told me Wednesday morning. “And while I think he accepted the difficulty of being speaker, I’m not sure that he really enjoyed the job all that much.”

Still, while Politico makes the case that Ryan has no interest in a White House bid, we imagine that assessment might be premature: After all, he did agree to be Mitt Romney's running mate back in 2012. And seeming unwilling to take a job that nearly every member of the Republican establishment believes he'd be perfect for has worked out for Ryan in the past.

We imagine Ryan won't be sitting idle in Janesville for long. After all, if Democrats take back the White House in 2020, the opportunity to clinch the nomination to be the next Republican president would only be eight years away.


FireBrander Insurrector Fri, 04/13/2018 - 16:10 Permalink

WARNING: Sarcasm ahead; please look it up if you don't understand it's meaning.

I'll miss Ryan:(


Ryan once dreamed of defeating Trump; he has since merely hoped to contain him.

WTF! Who gave you that job Ryan you egotistical piece of shit? FU! Trump won in a landslide! It is not your prerogative, ESPECIALLY AS A FUCKING REPUBLICAN, to "defeat" or "Contain" Trump...FU!...Geesh!

Yes, I just blew a head gasket.

In reply to by Insurrector

DownWithYogaPants Lanka Fri, 04/13/2018 - 16:51 Permalink

ROFLMAO = so the 70 year old guy out worked the 48 year old guy.  Could be.

Ryan should try Trump's Px 180 work out.  It's twice as hard.

Or this could be an excuse.   

Oh I think Eddie Munster thinks a lot of himself.  Somebody needs to ring him up and tell him he will never be president.  He is much too squeeky / nasally for anyone to vote for. Sorry but you have to get past the presentation level to be president.  Of course there is the part about him obviously being a pathetic globalist puppet to get past too.  

In reply to by Lanka

TrustbutVerify ParkAveFlasher Fri, 04/13/2018 - 16:27 Permalink

I think Ryan during this period received a rude awakening as to what a "cluster" Congress is.  He might end up talking a good game but to get anything done in the "Deep State" of Washington, DC and in the face of astounding deficits, debt and many multiples of the size of the debt in entitlement promises that will eventually fall into the already astounding debt column there he will need a higher level of energy and ability to communicate. 

We have problems coming at us that the broader public has no concept of.  

In reply to by ParkAveFlasher

Endgame Napoleon gatorengineer Fri, 04/13/2018 - 18:06 Permalink

He thinks the country is to the left of Trump on the issues that caused Trump to win, primarily immigration. If voters are to the left of Trump, it is only because cross-over voters look at immigration as a wage-cutting issue. A labor-left Democratic Party would see it that way. We do not have one. We have a Tammany Hall II Democratic Party.

Any truly pro-labor person has to see the folly in offshoring over 2 million jobs to countries with low-cost labor. On that issue, Trump, the candidate, was to the left of the Democratic Party except Sanders, albeit welfare is Sanders’ focus. 

If there is any issue where most [likely voters]—whether they are born-and-raised hardcore Republicans or cross-over voters—are definitely to the left of the Republican Party, it is SS.

It is not ideological in many cases. They must embrace it due to having zero choice and zero retirement savings after working for beans all of their lives.

After 40 years of being undercut by welfare-aided illegal aliens here in the USA and 30-cent-per-hour labor in Asia, Americans than never been more dependent on Social Security and Medicare. It is a lose/lose/lose/lose issue to run against.

It is the contributory programs that Ryan aims to cut, namely Social Security & Medicare, even though citizens pay into those programs at either 7.65 or 15.3% of every paltry dime they ever earn.

Ryan and the RINOs are left wingers on the sex-out-of-wedlock programs, like the 100% free monthly welfare programs that citizens and noncitizens do not contribute one penny to.

Those programs cover every household bill from groceries to rent for citizens in single-earner households who reproduce out-of-wedlock and for legal / illegal immigrants in single-earner households with male breadwinners.

RINOs love the refundable EITC child tax credit of up $6,431 that pays single moms and illegal / legal immigrants to have sex and reproduce through the progressive tax code. Now, that is liberal or, really, libertine. 

RINOs in Congress are paid so much that they think everyone in this country has the luxury to worrry primarily about issues like fake racism—50 years after the civil rights bill—and the even more ridiculous fake sexism.

Areas like racism and sexism — artificially resurrected issues — are where the RINOs think they have broader appeal. They could not be more off the mark.


In reply to by gatorengineer

wisehiney Insurrector Fri, 04/13/2018 - 16:12 Permalink

We’re going to win. We’re going to win so much. We’re going to win at trade, we’re going to win at the border. We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning, you’re going to come to me and go ‘Please, please, we can’t win anymore.’  You’ll say ‘Please, Mr. President, we beg you sir, we don’t want to win anymore. It’s too much. It’s not fair to everybody else.’” Trump said. “And I’m going to say ‘I’m sorry, but we’re going to keep winning, winning, winning, We’re going to make America great again.”

In reply to by Insurrector

ChanceIs cossack55 Fri, 04/13/2018 - 16:15 Permalink

I call it Boner-Ryan fatigue.

It goes back to when the Pubs took the House in 20112.

Ryan is such a boy.  I hear everyone say that he is such a gentleman.  Who whines while leaving a job that they didn't ask for it!?!?!  The immediate question is....how many things did he do which he shouldn't have done, and how many things did he not do which he should have done.  IOW, how many landmines are there for his successor.  Hey!!!!  I never wanted the job.  Don't blame me that the banks are imploding again and the economy is a complete failure from incessant money printing.

Ryan could have stopped ObamaCare by never funding it.  He gave Obama everything he wanted.

The truth is that he was a puppet of the FIRE industries.  (Finance, Insurance Real Estate) I hope that the $150 or $200 K they slipped him under the table over the last three years made it worthwhile for him.  He could have made more than that waiting on tables.

In reply to by cossack55