If you want to know what a great guy Rep. Paul Ryan is, here’s the proof: despite a groundswell of support, he has declined to run for president. Ryan appears to be lacking in that tragedy-producing quality known as “overweening ambition” that would have turned the heads of lesser men (and women). 

Ryan’s reasons for not running include his belief that he can do more to frame the debate from his current position in the House. Imagine-a politician who cares more about participating in the debate than having a motorcade! As Robert Costa observes, Ryan’s goal is moving his party in the right direction on fiscal issues, not personal glory:

He did not want to discredit the cause. One of Ryan’s chief concerns all along was whether an unsuccessful presidential campaign would undermine the GOP’s fiscal hawks. After the bruising spring budget battle, he felt that he had finally convinced the party to start moving in the right direction. Ryan is young, and he could recover from a failed race, but he worried that his fiscal agenda might end up politically discredited should a Ryan 2012 campaign come to an inglorious end in the snows of New Hampshire or the hills of South Carolina. “As far as I am concerned, my answer has not changed,” he told NRO this summer. “I feel like I am in a good place where I am right now. I have a young family, and I can balance that and the cause, and make a big difference where I am.”

Ryan is 41-years-old so his presidential hopes (mostly on the part of others) aren’t dashed. If he runs later, he will bring more experience to the task. I love it that he didn’t get the big head and do something he intuitively knew was not right for him at this time. But it does show why he was a beautiful dream for so many Republicans.