So it looks like Paul Ryan may finally be ready to concede to the requests of his party's establishment and take the job nobody else wants. Brian Beutler of The New Republic was among the first to report that Ryan has agreed to endure the humiliation of stepping into the role of House Speaker, the position recently vacated by John Boehner, who gave notice then left the area so quickly you could practically see little cartoon swirls shooting out of his ass.
Ryan's probably the only guy who can hold together the various factions of the dysfunctional Republican House. He's like Nick Fury if you can imagine the Avengers as a bunch of ten-year-olds gorging on paint chips. But even Ryan understands the kind of nightmare he's walking into and the potential damage that can be done by the craziest of the crazies in the house. I'm speaking specifically of the Freedom Caucus, which adopted that particular name only because "Flaming Asshole Caucus" violated congressional decorum. The Freedom tea partiers were the ones who, through obstruction and a general desire not to govern at all, made Boehner's life a living hell. Ryan knows what might be in store for him in that regard, so he's apparently agreed to run for the Speaker's gig with one big caveat.
See, Ryan wants the Freedom Caucus to relinquish its authority to depose him. Then and only then, according to various reports, will he take a crack at becoming Speaker of the House this coming Friday. Ryan wants to make sure he truly does have a consensus for his speakership, saying, "I'm willing to take arrows in the chest but not in the back." It's a smart tack when you consider that the crazy caucus has already driven out Boehner and stopped his second-in-command and heir apparent, Kevin McCarthy, from replacing him. Most intelligent people look at the Republican House, to say nothing of the party in general, and see ungovernable chaos and whether you like him or not, Ryan's a relatively intelligent guy. He knows the lay of the land on this.
Jason Chaffetz, shameless social climber and the result of a bizarre genetic experiment fusing Benicio Del Toro with an Asian beaver, has agreed to end his campaign for the top Republican job if Ryan says he wants it. And Ryan has said just that -- again, with his conditions being spelled out in an official statement through his spokesman. Ryan supposedly wants to be a "unifying figure" for the Republicans and Christ knows they need one.
It's undoubtedly amusing -- and somewhat ironic -- to watch Ryan essentially hold his party hostage until his demands are met, but as he concedes in even agreeing to take a job he never much wanted, desperate times call for desperate measures. The fact that he feels like he needs to request absolute allegiance for him to be willing to step up and take what's undeniably one of the most powerful positions in the U.S. government once again shows just what a mess the Republican party is these days. Of course that's the problem: by becoming Speaker of the House, Ryan becomes even more vital to a government the Republicans can't stand and fight bitterly to ruin at every turn.
By the way, predictably, Ryan's demands are going over like gangbusters with the Freedom people: