The Morning Jolt

Why Are We Dragging Paul Ryan, Kicking and Screaming, into the Speaker’s Chair?

Why can’t we let Paul Ryan just enjoy working in his dream job?

From the reporting of our Rich, Joel Gehrke, and Alexis Levinson last night . . . maybe Paul Ryan isn’t quite so adamant as he seemed Thursday afternoon.

The only Republican who does not want Paul Ryan to become the next House speaker, it seems, is Paul Ryan. But the former vice-presidential nominee and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee may be changing his mind.

After issuing a statement immediately following House majority leader Kevin McCarthy’s withdrawal from the race reiterating that he will not seek the job, multiple sources tell National Review that Ryan is, at the very least, considering a change of heart.

“I’m told he’ll sleep on it,” says a source close to Ryan.

Two additional Republican sources say Ryan has in fact already made up his mind to jump in the race.

Still, if you’re trying to recruit a guy for a job, how well can it work out if the guy really doesn’t want the job? Sure, Paul Ryan might be the best consensus candidate — perhaps the only plausible consensus candidate! — but how good a speaker will he be if he’s pressed into this role? At what point does he start to resent the job for taking him away from what he wants to do professionally — overhauling the tax code on the Ways and Means Committee — and personally — spending weekends back in Wisconsin with his family? (NR’s editors make the case for a Ryan run this morning.)

Kevin McCarthy shocked the political world Thursday, announcing that he no longer felt he could win the post of Speaker — and indeed, the House Freedom Caucus appeared unified against him. (One wonders whether that was intractable opposition or negotiable opposition if McCarthy made the right promises or the right majority leader or majority whip were working with him.) This Huffington Post article strongly implies that a major factor was that long-rumored but never-confirmed allegation of an affair with a colleague.

The newspaper headlines and television chryons this morning scream “CHAOS!” But it’s not that chaotic; there’s still a Speaker in place. Nobody died. In a terrific example of how you should be careful what you wish for, the current plan is for Boehner to stay until there’s a candidate who can get 218 votes. And that probably ought to be a lesson for the conservatives who were so irate with Boehner’s leadership.

The horse has to come before the cart. If you want to get rid of a Speaker, who do you want to replace him with? It is easier to beat somebody with somebody than to beat somebody with nobody. A genuine leader can rally people to his side and provide a contrast with the status quo. Yes, I know, anybody who indicated they might challenge Boehner someday was targeted for punishment. But if you want to be a leader — particularly of a movement with an oft-stated “stand and fight!” philosophy! — you have to be willing to stand out from the crowd and accept the consequences.

Conservatives would be fools to assume that a chaotic situation will just automatically generate a Speaker who gives them more power, or who represents their viewpoint better, than John Boehner.

Is Daniel Webster the guy? If everybody is on board, fine.

The Freedom Caucus’ choice for House speaker is Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida, who isn’t even a caucus member. Webster, who represents part of the Orlando area, has been a state and federal lawmaker since 1980 and served a stint as speaker of the Florida House.

Our Happy Warrior columnist, David Harsanyi, concurs with Ramesh that however chaotic things may seem like now, it’s not likely to have much of a long-term consequence: “Not one person in America is changing their mind about anything because Kevin McCarthy can’t be speaker.”

Is Joe Biden Running? Here’s One Little Indicator . . .

Ryan Lizza, writing in The New Yorker:

Joe Biden has taken another step toward entering the Presidential race.

Representatives of the Vice-President held a meeting this week with Democratic National Committee staffers. They briefed Biden’s aides on arcane but crucial rules that the Vice-President would need to understand if he decides to run, according to a D.N.C. official.

It was the most significant sign the source had seen to indicate Biden’s intentions. “I think it means he’s running,” the source said.

The D.N.C. has held similar meetings for representatives from the five declared Democratic candidates: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, Martin O’Malley, and Lincoln Chafee. The D.N.C. offered the meeting to Biden earlier this year, and the party committee was scheduled to brief his aides back in June, but that meeting was cancelled.

By the way, that web video from Draft Biden about the family’s tragic 1972 car accident? It won’t run. Turns out our gut instinct was right — it was too emotionally manipulative . . . for Biden:

“The vice president appreciates that they are trying to help,” the person close to the vice president said. “But he has seen the ad and thinks the ad treads on sacred ground and hopes they don’t run it.”

The vice president’s office declined to comment.

In a statement, the super PAC said it would “honor his wishes” and pull the ad.

“Nobody has more respect for the Vice President and his family than we do,” senior advisor Josh Alcorn said in a statement.

Somebody’s Mixing Up The Martian with Apollo 13

Now I want to see a poll question on this. How many Americans believe that NASA has sent astronauts to Mars?

It’s said to be the closest any Hollywood space movie has come to being scientifically accurate.

But it appears that The Martian, starring Matt Damon, is being taken a little too seriously by some, with scores of people believing the sci-fi flick was based on a true story.

Tweets from people who watched the Ridley Scott film, which came out on Friday, reveal that a surprisingly large number of people are unaware that humankind has never set foot on Mars.

I suppose we should be thankful that they weren’t asking how Ridley Scott managed to film on location on Mars.

Maybe they’re just taking their cues from Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas:

In 1997, while on a trip to the Mars Pathfinder operations center in California, Jackson Lee asked if the Pathfinder had succeeded in taking a picture of the flag planted on Mars by Neil Armstrong in 1969. Needless to say, Jackson Lee, then a member of the House Science Committee, had confused Mars with the Moon.

Stephen Kruiser observes, “This is how Obama happens twice.”

ADDENDA: Thank you to all of the Morning Jolt readers who helped Heavy Lifting become the No. 1 new release in Amazon’s Fatherhood section!

. . . On this week’s pop culture podcast: pumpkin-spice mania, the flavors of fall, and hipster foods that should never be seen again; a strange, almost indefensible list of the 25 most iconic pop-culture moments of the last quarter century; Halloween and horror television programming and the war over kids’ behavior in public places.

In other pop culture news, R.I.P. Catherine Coulson, known to Twin Peaks fans as “the Log Lady.” In other Twin Peaks news, Michael Ontkean’s not returning to the new, Showtime-produced season. Still, like the poster on Fox Mulder’s wall, I want to believe. 

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