Is it really so hard to believe that a young, successful, and politically driven man would put his family first?
On Wednesday morning, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced he will be retiring at the end of his term to spend more time with his family. He and his wife, Janna, have three teenage children: Elizabeth “Liza” Ryan, 16; Charles, 15; and Samuel Ryan, 13.
“If I am here for one more term,” said Ryan at a press conference, “my kids will only have ever known me as a weekend dad. I just can’t let that happen. So I will be setting new priorities in my life.”
Predictably, the mediasphere went into immediate hyperdrive. Speculation about the impact of the move and the plausibility of the rationale the 48-year-old father of three provided dominated the airwaves and both print and digital news outlets.
By Wednesday night, an interesting pattern emerged on social media, one you might not expect. The knee-jerk reaction of many on the Left — and even some prominent figures on the Right — was disbelief. Not disbelief that the young-but-seasoned politician is truly walking away at the end of his term, but disbelief that the reason driving the decision concerned his role as a father.
The attacks were as vicious as they were hypocritical. Feminists, politicians, physicians, media figures — they all weighed in on the implausibility of a man giving up career for family. Many went on to posit that it wasn’t family Paul was concerned with at all. Rather, it had to be something else — something politically driven.
Abortion rights groups, for example, were quick to offer backhanded compliments about Ryan’s announcement. Ryan, of course, was instrumental in (failed) efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, both of which rendered him a target of their disdain. NARAL Pro-Choice America tweeted on Wednesday that it was “the first positive thing for women Paul Ryan has done in his 19 years in office.”
If Ryan were female, would the vitriol across social media have been as intense? If he were the mother of three — and not the father — who walked away from a high-powered career to focus on raising children, would the reaction have been one of support rather than instant suspicion?
In 2018, shouldn’t we be cheering such a move rather than shaming it?
Clearly, the only person who knows exactly why Paul Ryan will be vacating the speakership is Paul Ryan himself. It is entirely possible the unusual move is based, in full or in part, on the current political climate.
But is also possible and quite plausible that the man truly does want to spend more time with his kids.
And in 2018, shouldn’t we be cheering such a move rather than shaming it?
Tell us: Is Ryan a heroic example of a family man, a cowardly politician who doesn’t want to face possible defeat in the midterms — or is his decision based on something else entirely? Let us know what you think in the comments section below this article.
https://twitter.com/chgrimaldi/status/984072777085931522 From “Journalist and writer known for roasting chickens and the patriarchy”
when you see this bs about paul ryan wanting to spend more time with his family, think about the poor families on and below the poverty line he has targeted for his entire political career.
then, don't give a shit about paul ryan's butt-covering.
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) April 11, 2018
it's chilling to watch Ryan use his kids as props.
i.e. if Jeb Bush were president and Ryan was Speaker, there's 0% chance Ryan would quit to spend time w/ his family. https://t.co/yq0muEalGs
— Eric Boehlert (@EricBoehlert) April 12, 2018
Paul Ryan is retiring because he “accomplished” the #GOPTaxScam.?
— Dr. Dena Grayson (@DrDenaGrayson) April 11, 2018
Paul Ryan is gone to spend more time with his tax cut.
I mean family.
No, I mean tax cut.
Anybody want to bet Dana Rohrabacher (R-Moscow) is next to quit?
Dana HAS to know he's gonna get his pasty traitor butt kicked five ways to Sunday.
No way he runs.#PaulRyanIsOverParty#CA48
— Steve Marmel (@Marmel) April 12, 2018
Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to LifeZette.