Rumors are swirling yet again that House Speaker Paul Ryan is set to resign and be replaced by Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). While aides to both Ryan and Scalise have denied the rumors, there is ample reason to believe that Ryan wants out and is looking to find the right time to bow out of the shit show that has become American politics under Donald Trump.
And that is why Ryan is likely looking for a way out -- his life has become a never ending series of public humiliations as he tries to hold together the hugely dysfunctional relationship between his party and the president. As House Speaker, Ryan eats shit for a living, and no sane human could withstand it for extended periods of time. Ryan has clearly endured enough and wants to jump ship before Trump brings down not only his presidency, but the entire Republican Party.
The Blue Wave sweeping across America has not gone unnoticed by the GOP, and the party bosses are panicking like never before. Robert Reich wrote this about a conversation he had with an anonymous retired GOP friend in October of last year:
He [Republican friend]: Look, all I can tell you is many of the people I talk with are getting freaked out. It’s not as if there’s any careful strategizing going on. Not like, well, do we balance the tax bill against nuclear war? No, no. They’re worried as hell. They’re also worried about Trump crazies, all the ignoramuses he’s stirred up. I mean, Roy Moore? How many more of them do you need to destroy the party?
Me [Reich]: So what’s gonna happen?
He: You got me. I’m just glad I’m not there anymore. Trump’s not just a moron. He’s a despicable human being. And he’s getting crazier. Paranoid. Unhinged. Everyone knows it. I mean, we’re in shit up to our eyeballs with this guy.
That was 5 months ago, and things haven't exactly gotten better. The Mueller probe is getting closer and closer to Trump's inner circle, he has a full scale scandal unfolding in public that involves a porn star and campaign finance corruption, the GOP is getting beat in previously unthinkable districts, and Trump's entire legal defense team is falling apart at the seams. Paul Ryan is a savvy political operator and he sees the writing on the wall: this will not end well, and he doesn't want to be around for the aftermath.
The thing is, Ryan, like other prominent Republicans, could have done something to stop Trump's rise to power. At any point during the election campaign, Ryan could have denounced Trump and refused to work with him. Rather than support a sexual predator who likes to grab women "by the pussy" and incite racial hatred to win votes, Ryan could have done the right thing and resigned rather than work with Trump. But he didn't. Ryan stayed, and thus normalized Trump's behavior and enabled him to rule unchallenged.
Ryan wants out because he is a coward -- a spineless, gutless shadow of a man who sold his soul for some perceived short term political gain and now realizes the show is about to end. He disgraced himself, his family, his party, and his country, and history will judge him ruthlessly. Resigning at the peak of the party's misfortune is a fitting end to Ryan's career. He leaves the party in far worse shape than when he joined it and will have to live with his pivotal role in making that happen.