He could see the handwriting on the wall from a mile away.  Paul Ryan’s tenure as Speaker of the House might have ended this year anyway. So bow out before you’re blown out.  The Washington Post took the high road on Ryan’s tenure:

  • Looking back, six of the past seven speakers have served fewer than five years in the job (three voluntarily and three because their party lost the majority). Ryan committing to another two-year Congress would put him over that five-year mark, which is a very long time to be in that job even for a relatively youthful 48-year-old.
  • But Trump has already turned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) into a pariah with an imperiled majority that has already shrunk by half, thanks to the Alabama special election. And given the House looks increasingly likely to go to the Democrats, Ryan can’t be sure he would be able to stay speaker in 2019, even if he wanted to.
  • Given that, why try to stay in a job that you never really wanted and might not even exist next year?

The New York Times reports Ryan’s exit could trigger a wave of retirements.

Ryan has long been a major fundraiser for his party.  Now, who will make it rain?

Donald Trump praised the outgoing House speaker.

Others were not so kind.  While Ryan has long enjoyed much favorable press coverage, here’s the other side, as in this blistering piece from Vox:

  • “House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is announcing his retirement today, was not the most pernicious figure in American life during his era of prominence, but he was the biggest phony.
  • Ryan’s brief speakership, by contrast, did not amount to much. The dream of Social Security privatization that launched his policy relevance is dead. The Medicare privatization plan that relaunched his policy relevance is also dead.
  • His reputation as a deficit hawk has been exposed as a sham. He didn’t repeal the Affordable Care Act, and he didn’t undo the Obama administration’s financial regulations. The year isn’t over yet, but Congress has basically abandoned hope of doing anything else.
  • What he got was a tax cut, the thing that every Republican majority gets.”

New York Magazine reports that what finally killed the myth of Paul Ryan was Donald Trump.

  • In the face of something as large and obvious and grotesque as Trump, Ryan could no longer straddle the gap between his base and the national media. 
  • As House Speaker, Ryan has played an indispensable role in insulating Trump from public and legal accountability. Ryan has buried votes that would compel the release of Trump’s tax returns, and unleashed Devin Nunes to run a counter-investigation designed to discredit the Department of Justice and ultimately clear the way for Trump to halt the probe of Russian interference on his behalf.

And the final insult, this fall, Ryan’s district could turn from red to blue.  From Vox:

  • Ryan’s departure opens up a path for Democrats in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District, which Ryan has had locked down since he first won office in 1998. Now that the speaker is leaving, the district suddenly looks much more like a pickup opportunity for Democrats.

And, according to The Cook Political Report,  it won’t just be in Wisconsin…