Candidassimo Paul Ryan is still dead.
With apologies to Chevy Chase, the longest-running non-story in politics is getting its latest death knell this afternoon when Ryan says — yet again, this time with a nod to Gen. Sherman — he will not seek nor accept the GOP nomination for president at this summer’s convention. I don’t know any political observers who actually believe otherwise, even if Ryan’s name is regularly mentioned in speculation about who could emerge from Cleveland as a surprise nominee.
I’m sure Ryan this afternoon will give his own reasons for not wanting to run for president. Here’s mine: The best role for him in the foreseeable future is wielding the speaker’s gavel as the conservative hedge to a President Trump, Clinton or Sanders.
In all but the most dire forecasts, the Republicans are expected to retain control of at least the House next year. Having a strong conservative and serious policy mind as speaker of the House will be imperative if any of that aforementioned trio ends up in the White House. Even if Ted Cruz somehow wins the presidency, the well-respected Ryan could become a broker between the Texan and the Senate leaders with whom he’s had an often frosty relationship.
Would I love to see Paul Ryan as president? Sure. But even setting aside the practical difficulty of running the House and a presidential campaign at the same time (he’d almost certainly have to resign the former, putting that chamber back in turmoil) he’s hardly the only person who could be an appealing consensus candidate in Cleveland. He’s just the only one who would have to give up a nearly-as-important job to be that candidate. He’s right to stay where he is.