Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Tuesday, May 22, 2012. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

The Washington Post reported Thursday that "several influential House conservatives" are plotting to challenge Speaker Paul Ryan's leadership this fall. Truth is, it's not a job many want or can keep anymore.

Sound smart: Ryan — like John Boehner before him — has found being Speaker sounds more powerful than it actually is. Lawmakers no longer need party leaders for money and exposure, because the power has swung to the grassroots. And without the ability to hand out legislative goodies such as earmarks (money for projects in districts), the modern Speaker is simply playing a weaker hand.

Sound smarter: Ignore episodic stories about Ryan's demise. There are no Republicans with the clout or support to take him on. They know the job is impossible in this environment.

That's why there has been a recent run of weak and troubled speakerships.

John Boehner, party problems

John Boehner resigned as a result of a fractioned Republican Party. He said he resigned to save his colleagues from "prolonged leadership turmoil." But Boehner will tell anyone who asks the job was a drag, especially dealing with Tea Party members who loved to flick off leadership.

Nancy Pelosi, unpopularity

After Republicans took the House in 2010, Nancy Pelosi handed off the speakership to John Boehner. She lost popularity among both Republicans and Democrats; Democrats attempted to distance themselves from her during the 2010 elections because she became a symbolism of ineffectual leadership and liberalism.

Jim Wright & Newt Gingrich, ethics violations

Jim Wright was the first speaker to resign amid"allegations of ethical impropriety," but was never charged.

Newt Gingrich resigned after he became the first-ever speaker to be disciplined by the House for ethical wrongdoing.

Tom Foley, Republican overthrow

Tom Foley was unseated in the 1994 election, making him "the highest-profile casualty in the Republican 'revolution' of 1994," according to the Washington Post.

Go deeper

Ted Cruz defends GOP's expected return to prioritizing national debt

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told "Axios on HBO" on Monday that he wishes reining in the national debt was a higher priority for President Trump.

Why it matters: Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to reduce the national debt and eliminate it entirely within eight years, though he also deemed himself "the king of debt" and said there were some priorities that required spending. In the fiscal year that ended in September, the deficit reached a record $3.1 trillion.

Federal judge blocks DOJ from defending Trump in Carroll rape defamation case

E. Jean Carroll in Warwick, New York. Photo: Eva Deitch for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed the Justice Department's attempted intervention on behalf of President Trump in writer E. Jean Carroll's defamation lawsuit against him, after she accused him of raping her in a dressing room in the mid-1990s.

Catch up quick: The agency argued that Trump was "acting within the scope of his office" as president when he said in 2019 that Carroll was "lying" about her claim.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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