Before Paul Ryan boxes up his library of P90X DVDs and paperback copies of the collected works of Ayn Rand, before he relinquishes his gavel as Speaker of the House—an item more suitable for resistance training than fighting #TheResistance—before he returns to the state of Wisconsin, with a possible layover at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and K Street in which he may convert his intelligence about how the federal government works into his own private works project, let us ask: Between the morning after Election Day (November 8, 2016) and the Thursday before Inauguration Day (January 20, 2017), where was Ryan’s plan to do anything?
Was his lack of leadership a political version of “going Galt,” where, deprived of his talents and distraught about their own poverty of talent, Republican members of Congress recognized the country could not thrive—and the White House could not survive—unless Paul Ryan was second in line for the presidency?
I ask these questions, not because of what my crystal ball reveals, but because of what I cannot see, as that ball is as gray—and as grainy—as the thickest layer of smog.
I can no more predict the outcome of the midterm elections than I can forecast the weather, but I can tell you the outlook of Paul Ryan’s legacy as Speaker of the House. About that, the picture is as clear as the pages are blank: a speakership of legislation never repealed, of bills never replaced, of promises never realized.
If Republicans maintain their majority in the House, it will be in spite of Ryan’s influence.
For two years, he was present in body but absent in mind. His absent-minded approach to governing left him unable to count votes.
He did for Democrats what Democratic voters may do from themselves: vote Republicans out of office.
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