There’s been a target on Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s back ever since he assumed the role from his predecessor, John Boehner. That target wasn’t painted there by Democrats or leftist media, though they haven’t exactly been supportive. The target was painted on his back by Breitbart and other alt-right “conservative” media sites who view Ryan and all of his cohorts as “RINOs” that need to be abolished.
I have no affection for Ryan. He’s more moderate on most issues than I would like, but that’s to be expected. What’s worse is that he’s been ineffective as Speaker, unable to push through significant legislation since President Trump took office.
Should Ryan fear Steve Bannon who has pledged to attack the “Establishment” with primary battles and bad press? Yes, though it’s unlikely that he would lose a primary as a result of Bannon’s attacks. The real thing Ryan and every Republican should fear is that damage Bannon and Breitbart can do in the general election. Will they pave the way to Democrat majorities in both the House and Senate?
Sadly, the answer is probably, “yes.” It’s not as if Congressional Republicans have done enough to be worthy of keeping a majority even without attacks from Bannon. They’ve been impotent at best and counterproductive at worst. They’ve forced the President to resort to executive orders to attack Obamacare and force immigration reform onto Congress. Bannon’s attacks will only make them more vulnerable. Even if they’re able to defeat the primary opponents he puts up (and most if not all of them will with the exception of Jeff Flake), they’ll still be weakened both financially and with the Trump base going into the general elections.
In other words, they’re going to lose seats if they can’t figure out a way to pass real legislation soon. Tax reform will go a long way towards helping them, but they need to pass some sort of Obamacare repeal before election day in 2018 if they realistically hope to hold the House and Senate.
For Ryan’s part, he’s playing it cool. Is it a show? Is it ignorance? Does he know something we don’t? While he probably wouldn’t lose a primary nor the general election directly, he may end up losing his seat as Speaker of the House if the GOP can’t figure out how to keep their majority.