Skip to Content

Why Paul Ryan Voted for Trump

Leaders in every field should pay close attention to Paul Ryan in weeks and months ahead. America’s highest ranking Republican as House speaker, he’s in an impossible situation facing irreconcilable conflicts between his duty, on the one hand, and his clear loathing for Donald Trump, plus his own ambitions, on the other. In my opinion – though definitely not in everyone’s – he has done an admirable job managing the conflicts so far. He’s worth watching because no matter who wins on Tuesday, those conflicts will only grow more troublesome.

His conflict of the moment was on painful display yesterday when he told a TV interviewer that he had already voted “for our nominee,” refusing to speak Trump’s name. As speaker and as America’s most popular Republican, Ryan has a duty to help other Republicans win their House and Senate races, so he can’t denounce Trump (as Mitt Romney did) and risk turning Trump’s millions of supporters against down-ballot candidates. As speaker, Ryan also has a duty to endorse his party’s nominee, which he has done through tortured rhetoric that combines endorsing with refusing to defend or campaign for Trump.

Now, having voted for Trump, Ryan has done his duty. Doing so conflicts not just with his own views and values but also with his ambition, and this conflict will play out in many ways after the election. Ryan would apparently like to be president. With that as a goal, continuing to serve as speaker offers nothing but trouble. If Hillary Clinton is president, Ryan might well be able to negotiate a bill that she and enough Congressional Democrats would support on an issue of great importance to him, immigration reform. But cooperating with the Dems on such a hot-button issue could brand him as a hopeless traitor to those Republicans most likely to vote in presidential primaries. Ryan’s situation is no easier under a President Trump, whose seat-of-the-pants positions on immigration, entitlements, trade, and tax policy are virtually the opposite of Ryan’s. So he’d be in the position of continually fighting his own party’s president – not a promising path to the nomination. That’s why some commentators have advised Ryan to get out of the speaker’s job fast.

But that’s another conflict with duty. Ryan reluctantly accepted the job a year ago after House Republicans forced John Boehner out and it became clear that Ryan was the only person around whom the party could unite. At the time, he suggested that he would want out as soon as the next Congress convened, in January 2017. But now his colleagues overwhelmingly want him to continue. Would he refuse, throwing his party into chaos in order to further his own ambition? Plenty of politicians would do so in an eyeblink, and voters might not care; they’re used to it. But Ryan has not operated that way in the past.

Duty vs. values, duty vs. ambition – these are conflicts that every leader faces. Ryan faces them in particularly dramatic circumstances on an unusually public stage. He is also an intellectual who tries to remain principled, the kind of leader many others would like to emulate. How he navigates his future, for better or worse, will be a leadership case study worth following.

You can share Power Sheet with friends and followers here.

What We’re Reading Today

Gannett ends its pursuit of Tronc
The publisher of USA Today and other titles said a deal would no longer make financial sense. Tronc said the problem was that Gannett couldn’t line up financing. Gannett CEO Robert Dickey had spent months pursuing a merger with Justin Dearborn‘s Tronc in order to create America’s largest newspaper publisher. The two sides had agreed on a price in September. USA Today

Chipotle shareholders consider proposing independent chairman
Founder and co-CEO Steve Ells is also chairman, but some shareholders fault his handling of last year’s E. Coli outbreak. Two union-affiliated shareholders said they will offer a resolution requiring an independent chair. Other investors have supported the proposal, though activist Bill Ackman, whose hedge fund owns 9.9% of the company, has yet to comment. A vote wouldn’t take place until next year’s annual meeting. Fortune

Herbalife CEO to step down
Michael Johnson says he will step down in June, becoming executive chairman. His 13-year reign has been marked by a multi-year battle with Ackman over accusations that the business is a Ponzi scheme. Now that Herbalife and regulators have settled such claims, Johnson will hand over the CEO job to COO Richard Goudis WSJ

Worth Considering

Tesla continues push for SolarCity deal
In a blog post Tuesday, Tesla argued that merging with SolarCity would add over $500 million in cash to the carmaker’s balance sheet over the next three years. On a call with analysts, CEO Elon Musk, who is also SolarCity’s chairman, likened the deal’s critics to Tesla’s early doubters. Bloomberg

Instagram will let you click to buy
Next week, Instagram will begin letting some retail advertisers add links to images; clicking brings up a detailed description of the item, and another click buys it. A number of social media companies are adding e-commerce features, but users have been hesitant to use them.  Wired

The link between Donald Trump and the Russian bank
Computer experts found a link between a Trump campaign computer and Russia’s Alfa Bank, and while critics see a possible covert link between Trump and Russian leaders, the connection could be less than it seems. Alfa Bank would make for an odd go-between. Alfa Bank’s Mikhail Fridman has cut most of his ties with Russia and is seeking permanent residency in the U.K. The bank is doing well in Russia’s enemy, Ukraine, while Kremlin-controlled VTB struggles there.  Fortune

 

 

Up or Out

Fintech startup Ripple has named Brad Garlinghouse CEO, starting Jan. 1. Founder Chris Larsen will become chairman. Fortune

Fortune Reads and Videos

IBM and Athenahealth debate the future of AI in hospitals
While IBM Watson Health general manager Deborah DiSanzo sees AI potentially working alongside doctors, Athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush sees it replacing more rudimentary medical tasks. Fortune

Volvo’s new model includes a refrigerator
It replaces the passenger seat in the S90 sedan, which is meant to appeal to upper middle class Chinese owners, who often employ drivers. Fortune

Apple can’t seem to hook Chinese users on the iPhone
Retention rates for all Apple products among Chinese customers fell from 82% last year to 75% in September; demand for the iPhone 7 has also dropped. Fortune

It turns out an appendectomy…
…isn’t usually the best way to treat appendicitis. In a study, 70% of patients in Europe were cured with antibiotics. Fortune

Happy Birthday

Blackrock founder and CEO Laurence Fink turns 64 today.  CrunchBase

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker turns 49.  Biography

Share Today’s Power Sheet: 
http://fortune.com/newsletter/powersheet/

Produced by Ryan Derousseau
@ryanderous
powersheet@newsletters.fortune.com