Here is Ezra Klein, also not understanding the situation:
"Ryan should hope he doesn't get the job."No, Ryan hoped that he would get the job. He hoped that he would bridge enough of the divides in the House GOP caucus. It was important (to him) that the various factions would look like they can unite and actually accomplish something. It presents a horrible picture when people within the same party can't decide on a leader. Why should such people be entrusted with any more power, like, say, the presidency?
This was the grim picture facing Republicans. Most Republicans knew it. They knew that their chances of winning the presidential election were dropping if the House GOP continued to joust and wound one another.
Of course some House Republicans are so blinded by their principles that they don't acknowledge that shutdowns and default threats hurt their standing. You can't make the willfully blind see, and no one can convince some of these hardliners to stop the tactics. (Well, unless their money dries up.) But enough of the hardliners saw that, and accepted Ryan. And of course, Ryan would want the GOP to have good chances for the 2016 election, so of course he wanted this infighting to end. So it wasn't that hard to predict it would happen.
Blind to the signs
... or maybe it's harder than I thought. The hardliners were strong enough to oust Boehner and nix McCarthy. Was it predictable that they would accept Ryan? The conservative press was pushing against Ryan with stories about him being for bailouts, and especially amnesty--that most heinous of sins in the hard-conservative world.
Maybe I could see the signs that, despite the barrage, Ryan was on track. Others couldn't see those signs. They were fixated on the idea that this hard rump of the caucus wanted to run things, or that no sane GOP rep would take the thankless task. They didn't see any hardliners as seeing or being wary of the major negative consequences of the GOP House not being able to choose a leader.
Also ignored were signs that hardliners were moving to Ryan. Jason Chaffetz dropped his candidacy and endorsed Ryan. The Freedom Caucus was split. While pressure was put on those to stay strong and keep the fight, the number declared against Ryan was conspicuously low, only 9 or 10 out of a purported 40 members on the day I checked, which was 10/21. I could read this as a likely victory for Paul Ryan, but most commenters (or pundits) couldn't. Why so blind? I don't know. Of course, I was tipped off by Harry Reid, so I had that advantage.
Extras. I didn't survey much of the huge liberal blogosphere to see who else was wrong, but I checked two favorites. In these three posts from Washington Monthly, no one mentions the threat to GOP presidential chances, ignoring this huge motivation to settle the issue. Jonathan Chait has a very good take on the situation. The GOP needs the presidency, and Ryan knows this. It's just a question of whether enough of the Freedom Caucus can see that Ryan is the best chance they have.
Of course, none of this is a guarantee that the wingnut factions of the GOP won't do something to ruin or greatly lessen the GOP's chances in 2016. I wouldn't ever rule that out.