Have you ever seen the establishment pull so hard for a candidate for House Speaker like they did for Paul Ryan? I haven’t, at least not in recent memory. OK, that's the opener.
Like many folks watching the last GOP debate, I did not see the next president of the United States standing up on that stage. Not at all, and judging by the post debate media buzz, no candidate moved the needle enough to stand out in the field.
In fact, the issue bubbling to the top soon after the debate was whether Donald Trump would really stick to his pledge of not running as an independent. That's very telling since the pledge would not even be on the radar if say, the front runner was Chris Christie, Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. There is no need to worry about a pledge if Trump is their guy. The point is, he's not their guy.
By now, I think the Republican party also know they literally have no one in their current nominee field who will catch fire with the American public and they should be looking elsewhere for their nominee for the most important office in the United States. If they're serious.
And what of Trump? He's a negotiator first and with heavy political capital on the table, he'll re-negotiate the pledge with the GOP. If, and if is a very big word here, if Trump remains the frontrunner and doesn't get what he wants, he'll run as an independent. But if they sign a deal clearing the threat from a Trump third party run, I think the republican party will turn to Paul Ryan and nominate him at the convention.
Here's why. Paul Ryan knows what to expect after being Mitt Romney's running mate. They think it's his time. They consider him fully vetted and already the party's defacto leader. The republican AND democratic wings of the establishment party pull for him like no other member of the GOP. Wall Street loves him. Insurance companies love him. Big Oil loves him. The Koch brothers consider him among a handful of model legislators in congress. The House Freedom Caucus buckled at his request. He'll already have more than six months under his belt as House Speaker building a consensus, albeit a delicate mirage, of politicos that find him to be less divisive than anticipated and more willing to compromise. And for the first time, a movement to primary Speaker Paul Ryan out of Congress is picking up steam. That alone could nudge him to look at the nomination. Of course plenty could happen between now and the convention.
I also think the prestige of the House Speaker’s office drapery has made Ryan even hungrier for the presidency and my instinct tells me that if Paul Ryan is anything, he is an opportunist first. I could go on.
A couple months ago, I wrongly predicted that Ryan would not accept the house speaker role because I failed to follow my first instinct. Instead, I was listening to the standard pundits and conventional wisdom explaining how the office of House Speaker will ruin Ryan's chances for a future run at the White House.
There's also strong evidence that he loathes the speaker job, but ...
With Ryan, it's time to throw both conventional wisdom and the convention out the window because as an opportunist first, he is working the speaker's office not for the good of the country, but as a stepping stone to the presidency. Being House Speaker is no longer an obstacle for Ryan. It's a feature.
For this to happen, things have to fall perfectly in place of course. As long as Trump continues to freeze the field AND if an acceptable binding deal is inked with Trump, I think Ryan is the wild card favorite to win the coronation in a brokered convention. If not him - then who? Under those circumstances - will he accept? Absolutely.
Please don't take this as a promotional review for Paul Ryan - take it as a warning.