consulting the oracles

With John Boehner’s sudden resignation Friday, the early line is “far right of Republican majority ascendant, will have even more power over the next little while, chaos and gridlock ahead.”

There’s also a counter-story that goes “now that far right has ousted Boehner, the crazy conservative fever will break and Washington will gradually return to something like normal.”

Who’s correct? For that, we turn to the mythical smart money, which often isn’t, in hopes of gaining insight. The New York Times reported that Wall Street doesn’t like this development – the money there thinks it could mean problems with the federal budget and the debt ceiling (even though Boehner is now supposedly “free” to deal with such things) and the Export-Import Bank renewal.

But given how wrong finance guys are about, well, everything, I want a source closer to the center of things. Fortunately, we have one: Paul Ryan. In Ryan, we have a man of deep ambition and credentials that up until recently qualified him as a darling of the far right. But asked if he wants to be speaker, his response is a polite excuse – I have young children and “This is a job for an empty nester.”

There’s your smart money. Ryan, who was Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential partner, knows a losing gig when he sees one. And even more intriguing, he may understand that his version of the far right is no longer right enough. Hard to imagine, but we may be approaching the day when even the Ryans of the world say “I didn’t leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left me.”


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