Paul Ryan really doesn’t want to be Speaker of the House. I get that. It’s a very, very shitty job right now. John Boehner did want to be Speaker of the House, badly, and it took the nihilist branch of his own party less than five years to retirement seem preferable to another day on the job.
Hell, if House Republicans asked me to be Speaker of the House, I’d have to give it some long thought, and I’m about to the point where I’ll clean the microwaves at Taco Bell (or whatever appliances they use to decongeal the stuff they serve to people) if it offers steady pay. Who wants to ruin their life by putting themselves at the mercy of the House
Demolition Freedom Caucus, the only politicians in the country who truly believe that defaulting on America’s debts makes for sound economic policy?
I’d still do it, but you get what I mean.
Anyway, my complaint isn’t with Ryan’s unwillingness to take the Horrible Job. It’s with the media covering his decision-making process, which has added a new wrinkle to its normally-fawning hagiographical manner of covering all things Ryan. As we wait anxiously to see if this Great Man of Our Age will accept the Heavy Burden of History and become Speaker in the Hour of His Nation’s Greatest Need, or whatever, we’re being repeatedly told that, if he does become Speaker, Paul Ryan would be forced to leave his “dream job” — Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. CBS let “someone with knowledge of [Ryan’s] deliberations” — it’s Ryan himself, right? — peddle this line today:
They say Ryan hasn’t ruled out meeting with the House Freedom Caucus if asked, but “he’s not going to go to the Freedom Caucus and say, ‘I’ll do this and this’…otherwise you’ve sold yourself to them from the very beginning, and set yourself up for failure” said someone with knowledge of his deliberations.’ “He still really, really does not want to do this. He has his dream job. If he’s Speaker, his whole career path changes. He’s not going to make concessions to get a job he didn’t want in the first place.”
Here’s The Hill, from last week:
The personal and political downsides are plentiful as well: Time away from his young family, having to relinquish his dream job as Ways and Means Committee chairman, and dealing with the same group of hardcore conservative agitators that drove out Boehner and dashed his close friend McCarthy’s dreams of becoming Speaker.
The Chicago Tribune, also last week:
But why would Ryan take the job? He nixed the idea as soon as Boehner announced his departure, and though he is said to be reconsidering, he’s taking his time. It would mean giving up his dream job, his current post as chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. It would also deprive him of time with his school-age children.
And the AP, two weeks ago:
The Wisconsin Republican who chairs the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee — his dream job, he’s repeatedly declared — refused comment again and again as reporters chased him around the Capitol a day after Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy shocked his colleagues by withdrawing from the speaker’s race moments before the vote.
The mother lode of this stream of bullshit was penned by ABC’s Ali Weinberg on October 12, under the can’t-miss-this-point headline: “Paul Ryan Already Has His Dream Job”:
There are lots of reasons Rep. Paul Ryan doesn’t want to run for House Speaker, including the fact that he already has his dream job.
He presides over the House Ways and Means Committee, the top tax-writing committee in the U.S. House – a perfect fit for the policy wonk who is just at home talking about repatriated tax breaks as he is his beloved Green Bay Packers.
“I feel like, at 45-years old, as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee with a 10, 12 and 13-year-old at home, I can make a huge difference for the country. These issues, trade, tax, poverty fighting, health care reform, entitlement reform, all go to the Ways and Means Committee… And I can be home on weekends and be the kind of husband and dad I want to be. And so, it’s just that simple,” he said.
It is just that simple, that’s for sure.
Look, I don’t want to burst any reporters’ bubbles here, but Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee is not Paul Ryan’s “dream” job. When he’s alone, maybe in his study, and starts to daydream, he’s not imagining how cool it will be to bring the head of the IRS in for a hearing on tax reform one of these days. Chair of Ways and Means may be the job Ryan wants right now, because it’s the best/most important one he thinks he can get without opening himself up to a lot of unpleasantness that he just doesn’t want in his life. That’s understandable. He may be comfortable staying in that job for the foreseeable future. But when you let Ryan and his people peddle you this “dream job” crap, you’re doing Paul Ryan’s PR work for him (oh, he’s so wonky and humble! he likes his family, and football also too! what a regular guy he is!), and, believe me, you’re not getting paid well enough to do Paul Ryan’s PR.
I know that Ways and Means Chair is not, in fact, Paul Ryan’s “dream” job for two reasons. First, I find it exceedingly unlikely that any American child has ever, in all of America’s 229-plus years of existence, looked up at the stars one warm summer evening, maybe around the age of 10 or so, and thought, “Gosh, one day I sure do hope I grow up to become Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.” I’m sure it’s a fine committee, don’t get me wrong, but let’s be realistic here. Second, Paul Ryan is already on record, and maybe you’ve heard something about this, as having been very interested in becoming Vice President. The Vice Presidency is not, and please bear with me here, a stepping stone to becoming Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. However, it is often seen as a stepping stone to becoming President of the United States, which is the job that Paul Ryan actually wants and is, therefore, his “dream” job. Thanks for listening.
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