Media say Paul Ryan's job in jeopardy as Republican warfare rages

No wonder Paul Ryan decided to bail.

Here he is in his final stretch as House speaker, hoping to go out in a spirit of unity, and the press is filled with stories about whether his party will dump him prematurely.

Managing the Republican caucus increasingly looks like Mission Impossible. It was the constant in-fighting between warring factions that prompted John Boehner to quit in 2015, and Ryan was drafted despite the fact that he didn't really want the job. Two and a half years later, he announced that he'd had enough.

And the Wisconsin congressman is still getting grief.

The Washington Post says Ryan "is losing his grip on the feuding House Republican conference just months before pivotal midterm elections, caught between dueling factions vying for power inside the party and facing scattered calls for his departure ahead of a planned year-end retirement."

The New York Times says that "with Republicans in revolt on both his right and his left, Mr. Ryan is increasingly facing questions about whether he can manage to stumble across the finish line."

And Politico says Ryan is embattled "as his Republican Conference spirals into an all-out war that could put his speakership on the line."

Doesn't sound like a whole lotta fun.

The first flashing neon light came when House Republicans couldn't even pass a farm bill, which ought to be a piece of cake. The legislation was derailed by a battle over immigration.

And immigration reared its head when a group of Republican moderates signed a discharge petition to force a floor vote on DACA and related border matters. They don't have the votes yet, but are acting in open defiance of the speaker, who once favored an immigration compromise but has no interest in a bloody battle in a midterm election year. House conservatives want Ryan to pressure the moderates into backing down.

Ryan's backing seemed to be eroding when the Weekly Standard reported that White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney said he'd privately talked to Kevin McCarthy about orchestrating a leadership vote to force Democrats in dicey districts to support Nancy Pelosi. Mulvaney quickly backed away from the idea. McCarthy, as House majority leader, is Ryan's presumed successor but has made no move to try to take over this year.

There was grumbling after Ryan's retirement announcement in April that the GOP couldn't go eight months with a lame-duck speaker and with Democrats a credible threat to take over the House.

Ryan, who's had his difficulties with President Trump, has had a frustrating tenure, with the big tax cut bill his only major accomplishment. He and the Republicans fell short on immigration and repealing ObamaCare, among other things. And the cupboard is pretty bare, as everyone knows Congress doesn't get much done in the second half of an election year.

As the Post says from talking to Hill sources, "there is not a viable alternative to Ryan who can win enough support within the GOP for a clean transition before November — and there is little stomach at the moment for the messy battle that would ensue when Ryan departs."

So for all the negative stories, the great likelihood is that Ryan, who says he's not going anywhere, probably can't be forced out. But given the heartburn level right now, he probably can't wait to get back to his home town of Janesville.

Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m.). He is the author "Media Madness: Donald Trump, The Press and the War Over the Truth." Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.