On Wednesday afternoon, following an extraordinary month of disarray that began when John Boehner announced his shocking resignation as speaker, House Republicans finally nominated a successor, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. But in the GOP's internal vote, which was conducted by a secret ballot, Ryan won only 200 votes, while Florida Rep. Daniel Webster, the choice of the nihilist Freedom Caucus, got 43. (Rep. Marsha Blackburn also earned a single vote, as, quite hilariously, did Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Boehner's disastrous hand-picked replacement.)
While getting 200 stampeding elephants to agree on a single thing might seem like quite an achievement, this is actually a problem for Ryan. That's because when the entire House votes for a new speaker on Thursday, 218 votes are needed to secure the job. That means Ryan will need 18 members of the most rambunctious part of his caucus to switch sides and actually support him on the House floor. And since this roll call is not secret, it means some Freedom Caucus types will have to publicly cast a ballot for Ryan, something they are no doubt loathe to do.
Presumably Ryan figures he has this one in the bag, otherwise he wouldn't have agreed to run for speaker in the first place. But he lost 45 fellow Republicans on a vote that should have been less prone to grandstanding precisely because it was taken in private. Thursday's vote is the real opportunity for the hardest-core dystopians to openly showcase their disgust for the GOP establishment. Given all that's gone on with this band of maniacs, how sure does Ryan feel about getting to 218?
Alternately, he could ask for Democratic votes to elect him speaker. Oh wait, just kidding! Not only would Democrats never do that in a billion years—no less a figure than Steny Hoyer is on record saying the Republicans are on their own—any GOP speaker who'd need Democrats to usher him into office would be simply asking for it from members of his own party. Then again, by accepting the worst job in DC, Paul Ryan's asking for it no matter what.