Sep 10, 2017

Being House Speaker is a miserable job

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

Palantir CEO reflects on work with ICE

Palantir CEO Alex Karp told "Axios on HBO" that there have "absolutely" been moments he wished the company hadn't taken a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

  • "Did I suffer? ... I've had some of my favorite employees leave," Karp told "Axios on HBO."

Michigan governor won't apologize for coronavirus lockdown

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer defended the strictness of her state's coronavirus lockdown in an interview with "Axios on HBO," saying it was necessary — despite the protests that have drawn national attention — because of how quickly the state's cases were rising.

The big picture: Whitmer, who has been a frequent target of President Trump, insisted that she had to act in the face of a lack of federal leadership — and that thousands more people in her state would have died without the lockdown.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has only one novel coronavirus patient in hospital and just 22 active cases in the country, top health official Ashley Bloomfield confirmed at a briefing. He's "confident we have broken the chain of domestic transmission," with no new cases reported for most of May, he added.

By the numbers: Brazil on Monday recorded for the first time more deaths from the novel coronavirus in a single day than the United States, Reuters notes. Brazil reported 807 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, compared to 620 in the U.S. for the same period.