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Those Words You Hear From Paul Ryan Don’t Herald the Arrival Of a Knight in Shining Armor

A Commentary By Charles Hurt

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Here in Washington, nothing ever goes “bump” by itself. Which leads us to the question, “What is Paul Ryan up to?”

Just back from touring the Middle East and in the midst of waging what The New York Times calls a “policy campaign,” Mr. Ryan scheduled a press conference to make a major political announcement.

“Let me be clear: I do not want nor will I accept the nomination of our party,” Mr. Ryan said Tuesday in remarks at the Republican National Committee.

This comes as Republican insiders prepare for the nastiest convention floor fight in over 40 years. Probably longer.

Republican establishment operatives are terrified that real estate tycoon and media/marketing maestro Donald J. Trump is leveraging a hostile takeover of their beloved country-club party.

Their only “white knight in shining armor” capable of taking out Mr. Trump within the confines of the rules of the convention is Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who has launched so many failed filibusters on the Senate floor that Republicans just might rather give in to the hostile takeover.

“Count me out,” Mr. Ryan said, responding to the constant din of chatter that he would be a much safer “white knight in shining armor” to save the Republican convention from decades of disastrous political malpractice by — well, Republicans.

Of course, Mr. Ryan said this, too, about becoming speaker of the House. Just weeks before becoming speaker of the House.

Oh, that is totally different, he said Tuesday.

“Apples and oranges,” he said.

Last year, he was already a member of the House when he refused to consider becoming speaker of the House, Mr. Ryan explained. So becoming speaker after refusing all entreaties was only natural.

This time, he is serious.

“I made a really clear choice not to run for president. Therefore, I will not be nominated. I will not allow my name to be placed in nomination, and it will not be me,” he said. “I just want to be really crystal clear.”

Like last time. When he refused efforts to make him speaker.

Now, there is plenty to like about House Speaker Paul Ryan. He has always operated in a studious, straightforward and honest manner.

But does he seriously expect voters to believe he would not accept his party’s nomination to be president if it were offered to him? Especially with his track record for swooning into the arms of “Draft Ryan” campaigns?

More important, does he really think his little press conference convinced Republican bigwigs and convention delegates that he is not interested?

He also seriously muddied the waters when he said during the press conference that only people who had run for president should be considered for the nomination.

You mean like Paul Ryan himself did four years ago on a ticket with Mitt Romney?

Or wait. Was Mr. Ryan signaling that the GOP convention — of which he is the chairman — should place into consideration Mitt Romney?

The problem with both of these scenarios — and the Republican Party itself — is that while such schemes might make sense to GOP operatives cloistered behind closed doors, they cannot survive the laugh test in daylight. In 2012, both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan failed to win even their own home states in a race against a weak incumbent in a terrible economy.

Paul Ryan may be the best ideas man in the Republican Party today, but if he cannot win elections with those ideas, he needs to stay off the big field.

Charles Hurt can be reached at charleshurt@live.com. Follow him on Twitter via @charleshurt.

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