When it comes to the Freedom Caucus, what control did he ever have? Was there ever a time that his dulcet tones over the phone held sway over Reps. Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, or Justin Amash? That’s not the game the Freedom Caucus plays. They find leverage points and use them to negotiate the advancement of right-wing policy. In this case, the moderates’ move to force an immigration debate—which would likely produce a more generous DACA bill as the official position of the House—set off alarms with the Freedom Caucus, and its members took the nearest hostage. The tactic is well within the realm of “how they roll,” whether Ryan is planning to stay for six months or six decades. Ryan, like his predecessor John Boehner, has never had control of the Freedom Caucus, and it’s why the speaker’s job is a pain in the ass for whichever warm body has the misfortune of occupying it.
The moderates also have reasons for trying to force immigration votes that have little to do with the end of Ryan’s political career—namely, the continuation of their own. Two of the most visible ringleaders behind the push for the discharge petition, Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo and California Rep. Jeff Denham, are running in absolutely dire conditions; they would be more vulnerable had they not tried to spark some movement on dormant Dreamers legislation.
Believing that a lame-duck Speaker Ryan is the source of this recent House Republican disarray also means believing that installing Speaker McCarthy, or Speaker Scalise, or Speaker [ ¯_(ツ)_/¯ ] this summer would fix these problems.