Dec. 13, 2013

Paul Ryan: The Leader of the Pack

One day my dad said, "Find someone new"/I had to tell my Jimmy, we're through/(What you mean when you say that/You better go find somebody new?)/He stood there and asked me why, all I could do was cry/I'm sorry, I hurt you, the leader of the pack
("Leader of the Pack" by Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwhich/Shadow Morton)

John Boehner has been U.S. Speaker of the House since January, 2011 and a major player in the GOP for many years before that. He has experienced many ups and downs, even losing a leadership role in 1998 and re-emerging bigger and stronger less than 10 years later.

In most circles, that would be known as a political success story. In 2013, he is presiding over the worst single House of Represntatives in the history of the Union. Boehner at one point declared "It's not how many laws we pass, but how many we repeal."

Boehner may have executed his finest moment as House Speaker on December 11 when he blasted the right wing groups who decided to grade Paul Ryan & Patty Murray's bi-partisan budget deal even before the deal was announced. Boehner shrewdly picked a battle blasting groups like Club for Growth, Heritage Action, FreedomWorks and others simply for criticizing the deal "...Even before reading it."

Boehner had been beholden to these groups since January, 2011 once he realized that these groups controlled the purse strings of many members of the Tea Party caucus.

Enter Paul Ryan. The same Paul Ryan who the Tea Party members love so dearly. He is the bridge between the establishment GOP members and the Tea Party wackos. Many right wing GOP elected members consider Ryan "Their Jesus."

Ryan was able (with Dem. Leader Pelosi's help) to sell this small budget deal to the House just before the Christmas break. Ryan is close with Boehner and Eric Cantor.

So what does this all mean in 2014?

Here is what I think.

Ryan will end up leading the Republican party when John Boehner steps down and retires. The end may be coming sooner than later for Boehner. He will try to get a few "Legacy" pieces of legislation passed in 2014 and then NOT run for re-election. This will cause a rift between Eric Cantor (the heir apparent) and Paul Ryan if the Republicans manage to hang on to the House of Representatives. That is no sure thing with this latest government shutdown putting many seats (including Ryan's) in peril.

Ryan is so popular among rand and file Republicans and Tea Party crazies, but his state of Wisconsin is Blue in some respects. Obama carried it and Governor Scott Walker is a Republican, but the social issues like women's reproductive rights and voter suppression have been damaging the Republican brand.

I believe Ryan will survive his re-election AND be elected by his peers to lead the GOP Caucus in the house. Eric Cantor will have to stick around and support Ryan and then we shall see if Ryan leverages his good fortune into a run for the White House.

There are a lot of problems brewing in Republican nation with Chris Christie embroiled in his petty retribution scandal involving the Fort Lee bridge from last September. Christie will have to answer for his suboordinate closing that bridge for 4 days to punish the Democratic Mayor of Fort Lee who would not endorse Christie for governor, despite Christie's huge lead in the polls at the time.

Paul Ryan may come out of this episode smelling the best. He can shift enough to the center after the primaries in 2016, BECAUSE he already has conservative credentials AND he has now showed a willingness to govern and compromise.

Paul Ryan is 'THE LEADER OF THE PACK" in GOP-Land. That is not saying much, but it is something.