I spent the other night roaming the aisles of a grocery store with a congressman who says nice things about President Trump on television while really not liking him. I have heard from a good many people who have had similar experiences. Green rooms in Washington are full of Republicans who cheer him on publicly and root against him privately. Decency and honesty seem hard to come by.
Decency and honesty will be a bit harder to come by with Paul Ryan's departure. Liberals hate him as the man who shoved granny off the cliff and many conservatives hate him as a tool or leader of the establishment. The reality is Paul Ryan is a profoundly decent and kind person who led a herd of cats as best he could. He has always been far more at home hunting or working through policy papers. But he rose to the Speaker's chair because he was the only man trusted enough by the various Republican factions to keep them together.
Ryan was and is trusted not because he is the most conservative, though he is far more so than people give him credit. Ryan is trusted because he's a nice guy. In Washington, nice guys who are successful are harder to find. More and more people think you have to be a braying jackass to be successful. Paul Ryan never did think that and never behaved like that.
We live in an age where if you don't like someone's politics then you don't like that person. It is really easy to not like people these days. It is harder to be decent and to try to like. I think Paul Ryan tried very hard to be decent and kind. I very much like him, even though we often disagreed on policy. And, to be honest, I often got the impression Paul Ryan was far more conservative on issues than he let on publicly, but knew he could only go so far right without losing Republicans in the other direction. His biggest struggle was finding the balance without his Republican coalition collapsing.
I am going to miss him on Capitol Hill, but I am happy for his family to have him home. Paul Ryan is now older than his dad was when his dad died. He's going to be able to experience a level of relationship and friendship with his kids that he never got to have with his own dad. Not being distracted by the pettiness of small things in Washington will be a positive for his family in that regard. So God speed to him and to his family.