Paul Ryan Wants to Be with His Kids, and People Are Going Nuts
Media have been in overdrive ever since House speaker and father of three announced his intention to retire at end of the year
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.
Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to LifeZette.