Of the many conservative Republicans who are getting their equal share of the public spotlight, Wisconsin’s incumbent congressman Paul Ryan was getting very little, that is until House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy stepped away from his nomination for speaker of the U.S. House Of Representatives.
We’re public servants. I have always put this Conference and Country ahead of myself. We need to unite behind one leader and get to work.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) October 8, 2015
In the confusion, the mainstream media and the more moderate conservatives scrambled to find a replacement they could get behind and decided that Paul Ryan would be the best pick from the tree, but to a fringe minority, Paul Ryan would appear to be low hanging fruit.
A Washington Post blog post details very accurately how Paul Ryan is now under fire from the House’s Tea Party conservatives for being too moderate and not conservative enough to be the House Speaker.
In reality, that group of forty-two representatives — who call themselves the Freedom Caucus — had already picked their man in Representative Daniel Webster, who explains in an article by the New York Times how he would lead the House.
“I think we have a power-driven system now. I have seen it at every legislative level all over the country, where a few people at the top of the pyramid of power make all the decisions. All I want to do, is push down that pyramid of power, spread out the base so every member has an opportunity, at least an opportunity to be successful. That’s it.”
While the Freedom Caucus has made it very clear that Paul Ryan isn’t conservative enough, they have also stated that Daniel Webster isn’t either but that he has already proven he can make the changes they need to give them equal opportunity to propose legislation, as he did when he was House Speaker for Florida’s own House Of Representatives.
If anything, John Boehner’s resignation as the House Speaker is evident proof of the pressure placed on the leadership from the insurgency. Forcing him to do so has, for a while, been at the top of a list of priorities from the Freedom Caucus since they banded together in support of the tea party.
Boehner has also been public about the problems in the House since that group of conservatives effectively shut down the government in 2013, and again after he announced his resignation, in particular, making it clear just how unreasonable some of them are.
But John Boehner’s statements have action to support them where he has stripped some conservatives of their powers and even made an effort, with other moderates, to block them. In order to try and legislate without them, moderate conservatives have made attempts to reach across the aisle to Democrats, to the disgust of the Freedom Caucus.
One such blocking effort was made late September when Mitch McConnell thwarted control back from Senator Ted Cruz, who made another attempt to defund Planned Parenthood and wrangle the trade agreement as reported by Politico.
And it is these moderate conservatives who are attempting to somehow, if not desperately, entice Paul Ryan to seek the nomination, as he is reportedly not making the effort himself.
At the very least Paul Ryan has acknowledged the pressure where he himself has said that unless the infighting stops, he would not seek the nomination for House Speaker.
But the conflict is not only reserved to stay within the House chambers as the public has also observed the climate of the fringe block, through the nominees they support.
For instance, MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow provided some insight into how inarticulate Kevin McCarthy is when he speaks and is, therefore, not the man for the job.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert even followed suite, using her video for an impersonation of McCarthy using his “bird like language.”
In a overly simplistic opinion post on CNN, Trey Radel explains why Paul Ryan should or shouldn’t run as the House Speaker. Paul Ryan has been public about how it would take away from the time he spends with family but also aside from the conflict within the party, Paul Ryan’s position as the House Speaker is already cast in a bad light.
In another piece by the same media source, the focus is over how Paul Ryan is taking the advice of his colleagues to lay low for a bit to consider the opportunity. The question here becomes, just how much of a problem would the extreme right wing of the House be if Paul Ryan were to take the job?
That would hinge on figuring out just what that faction decides they want to do because their motives have been clear for the constituents they represent, but the opportunity to contrast their position against their opposition has never presented itself until the Paul Ryan climate was created.
A clearer indication of what John Boehner has had to deal with and what Paul Ryan is likely to confront has been on public display such as it was on the October 12 edition of WAMU’s The Diane Rehm Show.
In an episode called “A Divided Republican Party And The Race For House Speaker,” Adam Brandon, the president and CEO for the conservative activist group Freedom Works, explains how they were responsible for putting that group together in the House and what their goals are in the process.
“Paul Ryan, to this point, has kind of failed to win over the House Freedom Caucus members, and I’m gonna stay in close consultation with those folks. But one other thing we just started talking about, I think, is so critical to this issue, is philosophically, Freedom Caucus members, myself included, we are so philosophically opposed to the greater centralization of power. Whether that is centralization into the Speaker or centralization of power into the imperial Presidencies we’ve seen develop under both parties.”
Another interview with Brandon on CNN puts him on the spot when asked about compromise.
It is worth noting that while the focus in the press has been on the future of the House, at this time, if the moderate conservatives were to lift up their party discipline tactics against the hard right, it would provide Democrats with equal footing, giving the original party opposition more leverage.
The storm in Washington is certainly more defined and obvious today, which is something everyone can now acknowledge. While a divided House attempts to lobby up their support for their own potential nominees, there is an opportunity to continue to legislate with a more moderate advantage while John Boehner is there, who has said will remain until someone is picked to take his place.
And very much like Boehner — who, at the end of the video presented earlier, said he did yoga — Paul Ryan could also do yoga and meditate on that fact that during this storm, he is very much like a leaf on the wind.
[Featured Image By Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images]