Watching Paul Ryan deliver his high-minded, optimistic call to a better politics on Wednesday, I kept thinking of Marco Rubio. How long ago was it that Rubio, like Ryan, was a bright young conservative talent with nothing but smooth road ahead?
Rubio the Florida senator, was at one time the nation's first Hispanic president-in-waiting, the legislative craftsman who fashioned comprehensive immigration reform before everything went south. Running for president, Rubio confronted the night furies and daylight delusions of Republican madness, and they devoured him. By the time his political corpse was discovered by the roadside, he had been reduced to "Little Marco," a sweaty, small-time operator from Miami trafficking in crude jokes.
Ryan may be shrewder than Rubio, which should help, and more principled, which almost certainly won't. Both loyally represent the donor wing, but Ryan appears to have a firmer foundation in the party. Indeed, since the dawn of the Obama era, Ryan's foundation has been a pedestal, upon which he has towered over party regulars.