What employer would hire someone who tells him that he doesn’t want the job but if he takes it, he can’t be fired — ever?
That’s exactly what House Republicans may be about to do for Rep. Paul Ryan, D-Wisc., who announced his “conditional” run for speaker to Tuesday evening.
“This is not a job I’ve ever wanted — have ever sought,” Ryan told reporters late Tuesday. “I came to the conclusion that this is a very dire moment, not just for Congress, not just for the Republican Party, but for our country.”
Actually, Ryan’s noblesse oblige comes with a stiff price. Before he will formally start running for speaker, Ryan wants an oath of allegiance from each of the conservative caucuses, including the rebellious House Freedom Caucus, whose threats not to back Speaker John Boehner led to Boehner’s decision to bail.
Worse, Ryan wants the Freedom Caucus and others to agree to abandon the very tool they used to topple Boehner — a motion to “Vacate the Chair” that would require a simple majority vote of the House to depose the speaker.
This means that with Ryan, who echoes Boehner in his support for massive trade pacts, “comprehensive” immigration reform, and making deals with President Obama, Republicans would be getting something similar to what they had — only without the leverage they previously possessed.
That is, they’d be trading in their old car for a newer model, but one with the same engine problems and, which this time, they couldn’t trade in for something else.
They have until Friday to comply.
Conservatives who agree to his terms will betray voters who put them in office to stand for principle and act independently — not rubber stamp the rule of a reluctant new overlord backed by the GOP establishment and chambers of commerce.
Democrats are thrilled with Ryan’s possible ascension to power.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he’s a “Paul Ryan fan,” and it’s no surprise. They will be facing off against someone who would rather be wonking it up as chairman of the tax writing Ways and Means Committee, Ryan’s current post, and who is only going to have half his head in the job.
“I cannot and will not give up my family time,” Ryan said, a declaration seemingly designed to safeguard his precious Wisconsin weekends.
He reportedly will refuse to vigorously perform one of the most basic jobs of speaker — raise money for colleagues — a vital role that not only would help preserve the GOP majority, but give him the leverage over members he needs to do his job.
Meantime, someone who is laying down conditions even before ascending to the post can be counted upon to have even less patience with the demands of conservatives than the amiable Boehner.
Ryan’s grumbling self-absorption is remarkable for someone on the cusp of gaining the perhaps second most powerful position in the country.
Unlike service members who dutifully troop to Afghanistan to fight venomous Islamist serpents, unlike Founding Fathers like George Washington and John Adams who departed their beloved homes and families to establish our nation, and unlike millions of Americans who grind through their jobs and put in weekends to make ends meet, Ryan won’t make a sacrifice unless his foot stomping is appeased.
Such lack of dedication should tell Republicans something about the supposed effectiveness of the man who may soon lead them.
And conservatives surely will find that the demands from Ryan will only begin the multiply once he has power and is unaccountable to them.