Poor, poor Paul Ryan. The speaker of the House is getting it from all sides lately. Turns out, it’s hard to lead the House Republicans (what with their substantial far-right vandal caucus), and it’s hard to try to be a media-friendly Republican leader in the age of Trump. On the presidential front, Ryan faces pressure from Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to endorse Trump:
"I think he needs to recognize, on some of these issues, Trump is where the Republicans are and if you’re going to be a Republican leader you should be supportive of that," Sessions said, referring to Ryan, on an interview with Politico's "Off Message" podcast published Tuesday morning. [...]
"My advice is to listen and accept the will of the American people, the Republican voters – the Republican Party is the Republican voters," he said.
True! But terribly inconvenient for Ryan. He’s been trying to convince the media that the Republican Party, with him as its face, was wonky and concerned for poor people. Then mean old reality intruded. Meanwhile, in the House, Ryan can’t get stuff done and he can’t improve his party’s image, given the way things are going:
"Despite Paul Ryan’s many moves to accommodate Freedom Caucus members, bringing them into the leadership fold and consulting with them regularly, they have given him the middle finger on spending bills, holding firm against any change in the sequester numbers," AEI scholar and congressional expert Norm Ornstein wrote earlier this month in the Atlantic about Ryan's problems with his conference. "To get the Freedom Caucus members to go along, Ryan will have to make concessions, which will lose other Republicans and allow Democrats to rip the bills apart with their own amendments. That means no bills with Republicans alone, and no stomach to bring up bills that will only pass with support from a passel of Democrats."
Appropriations are not the only thing Ryan's struggled to pass and Ryan's woes cannot be blamed entirely on the Democrats. The architect of the GOP's blueprint for years, Ryan has not been able to unite his conference around a (mostly symbolic) Republican budget this year as conservatives want the speaker to set lower spending caps. It's quite possible that the closest the House comes this year to pushing their agenda will be releasing a series of policy plans over the summer that Ryan himself has said aren't meant to be voted on.
We can laugh at Paul Ryan’s individual struggles. But it’s pretty horrifying that this is where one of our country’s major political parties is.