Like the Tea Party, both Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan proved to be Congressional failures, if not frauds:
In the aftermath of the Democratic waves in 2008, Ryan, McCarthy, and Eric Cantor presented themselves to Republican voters as The Young Guns – a new generation of conservatives largely untainted by the poor decisions of the Bush Administration, ready to lead in a time when Republicans were downtrodden and Democrats ebullient about the possibilities of the Obama years. Of the three, only Ryan had something particularly interesting to say: he was a blue-eyed salesman for the cod liver oil of entitlement reform. And he achieved something truly amazing: he got Republicans, at least for a time, to grasp that third rail. They voted for his reform plans reluctantly at first, but once they discovered the “throw granny off a cliff” ads had little power, their cowardice gradually dissipated.
Ryan was the most important Republican in Washington from 2009 to 2016. He now seems like a throwback from a bygone era, when voters expected their politicians to be straight-laced, honest, and sincere. He was serious, and dedicated himself to trying to tell stories to the American people about the fiscal direction of the country – stories which voters mostly ignored because they always seemed to involve hard news and histograms. Wisconsin nice and a truly decent person, Ryan’s approach was doomed in an era that values none of those things. It values the ferocity, the abandon of confrontational politics, not grand bargains and compromise.
We’ll see if the same proves to be true of Kevin McCarthy or not. Ryan seemed to start off well enough, but he rapidly disappeared into the weeds of cuckservatism and rendered himself irrelevant even before he became an ineffectual candidate for Vice-President. He proved to be timid and feckless non-leader in a time of intensifying cultural war.
And while I always thought it was unattractive, doesn’t the ticket of Romney-Ryan look even more ludicrous in hindsight than it did at the time? Even if Ryan is not being retired at the God-Emperor’s behest due to a Dennis Hastert-style problem.