But now there's a groundswell ... or at least a second pundit weighing in on Ryan's behalf. Quin Hillyer, writing in The American Spectator, a conservative monthly famous for Clinton-bashing, notes that Ryan is only 38, "but what a resume already! A brainy, attractive, principled conservative, he worked for Sens. Bob Kasten and Sam Brownback, and also for conservative idea leaders Jack Kemp and William Bennett. He's already been in Congress for 10 years, but he has yet to be subsumed in the bad old ways and the conventional wisdom; instead, he has been a font of ideas, and a devotee of conservative ideals."
So, of course, we had to ask Ryan whether all this attention is going to his head; whether, in fact, he agrees with the suggestion and might do something to advance his cause. Here's the response we got:
"It is nice to have my name mentioned, but my sole focus is doing the best job I can working for my employers – the residents of the First Congressional District of Wisconsin. There is so much work to do in Congress right now – saving Social Security and Medicare, restoring fiscal responsibility and revamping our health care system. Finding solutions to these problems is my priority."Careful parsers -- even superficial ones! -- will note that Ryan did not use the words "no" or "not interested" or anything like the Shermanesque clarity we have come to demand from politicians saying "No, no, a thousand times no."
Like William Tecumseh Sherman himself, when he forcefully rejected any attempt to nominate him as the Republican candidate for president in 1884: "If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve."
Or Lyndon Johnson's rejection of a second full-term nomination in 1968: "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president."
Or even Rep. Mo Udall's 1984 classic: "If nominated, I shall run to Mexico. If elected, I shall fight extradition."
Contrast those firm statements with Ryan's pusillanimous: "There is so much work to do ..."
Oh, yeah; he's interested!