There has been a lot of speculation on Paul Ryan's political future in the Wisconsin media, on the blogs, and even nationally. Many have said he'd make a great VP candidate in 2012, others want him to run on the top of the ticket, and still others expect him to run for Senate in 2012.
I'm sorry, but none of that is going to happen. Paul Ryan may someday sit in the oval office, but it won't be this decade. No, if the Republicans manage to pull off the improbable - and it's looking better everyday - and take back the House, Paul Ryan will be the next Speaker.
Yes, guys like Mike Pence and Eric Cantor get more love from beltway insiders and CPAC attendees, but if the GOP does win in November it won't be their doing. It will be Paul's. And it's because he's the one offering ideas and solutions. He's the one with a vision and a plan.
I honestly believe that if left on their own, the current House GOP leadership would be content to oppose the Democrats agenda just say no. Paul Ryan is pushing alternatives. Eric Cantor, the man who previously held the title of "rising star" went to the health care summit with the entire 2,000+ page bill but didn't land a punch. Paul went armed with statistics and CBO scores and knocked most of the Democrats silly. Don't take my word for it, take the Wall Street Journal's.
Fortune magazine has a great piece up on CNN.com about Paul's "Roadmap." Yes, it's controversial and won't be easy to pass, but he's the only person in either party who is seriously addressing the crisis of entitlement reform. No one else is willing to touch it. Paul Ryan is willing to talk about it to anyone who will listen. Most Republicans play it safe with the media and appear on FOX News, Paul is a regular on just about every MSNBC and CNBC program. He isn't just preaching to the choir, he's trying to convince everyone we need to make hard choices.
If the GOP is going to win back the House, it needs to harness the energy of the Tea Party movement. The movement started as a response to insane amounts of spending and government intervention in the economy and Paul's plan addresses that. He doesn't to pander to populist rage, but he does to tap into the anger over irresponsible spending.
When it's all over, if the GOP doesn't shoot themselves in the foot, they will have the House back and they'll owe it to Paul Ryan for leading when others want to play it safe. For that, I'm betting - and hoping - he'll be the next Speaker of the House. It places him in the best position to lead a conservative revolution of ideas and solutions. It gives him a chance to go toe-to-toe with the administration on spending and deficits and I think he has the guts to fight back. Other Republicans, I think, would end up caving and compromising on too much. I think Paul would be willing to push for real reform.
Playing it safe and a failure to lead got Republicans kicked to the curb in '06 and '08. If they listen to Paul Ryan, they won't make that mistake again.