House Ways and Means Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) hasn’t yet agreed to take the speaker’s gavel, and some conservative activists want to keep it that way.
ForAmerica’s Brent Bozell issued a preemptive denunciation of Ryan on Monday. “How can someone with an ‘F’ conservative rating (Conservative Review) be acceptable to conservatives?” he said in a statement to National Review. “Paul Ryan came to Washington with such promise and has been a huge disappointment. At every turn he has done the bidding of John Boehner. He hasn’t taken a principled stand on a single thing of importance. He is just more of the same, sadly.”
Ryan’s decline in the eyes of such conservative activists forms part of his rationale for turning down a run for speaker, according to a lawmaker who has spoken to him in the last few days. Ryan has passed on making bids for leadership repeatedly before, but he has signaled a willingness to consider running for speaker in the wake of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s withdrawal — if he was a true consensus choice. Otherwise, he’d prefer to stay in his current job and develop entitlement-reform legislation that a prospective Republican president could sign into law in 2017 — perhaps returning him to his all-star status among the grassroots in the process.
“He’s getting enormous pressure to ‘take one for the team’ and I’m afraid today that there’s no taking one,” says the House Republican. “It’s the [political] equivalent of having B-52s come overhead, about to drop bombs, and you dive on the grenade. . . . You didn’t save any lives; the problem out-scoped your capacity to protect.”
— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.
Editor’s Note: This piece has been updated since its original publication.