As House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) preemptively wraps up his tenure, he has opened up slightly about his personal befuddlement and frustration under the Trump administration, all undergirded by his conviction that without his presence, things would be much worse.
According to a Tuesday New York Times Magazine feature, Ryan has been shocked from the beginning about the bombastic billionaire who upended his party and threw his beloved institutions into a day-by-day maelstrom of tweets and insults.
“It was shocking to me,” Ryan said of Trump’s upset victory. “I didn’t see it coming. It threw me off.”
Since then, he’s walked a line, to the ire of Trump’s base, who are wary of his establishment chops, and to moderates and Democrats, who feel that he has sold the country down the river in his reluctance to rein in the President.
Ryan reportedly sees himself as successfully balancing an impossible situation.
“I’m very comfortable with the decisions I’ve made,” he told the New York Times Magazine. “I would make them again, do it again the same way.”
“It boomerangs,” Ryan continued, characterizing Trump’s mood when criticized. “He goes in the other direction, so that’s not effective. The pissing match doesn’t work.”
Not only does Ryan see himself as adeptly avoiding poking the bear, he also credits himself with quieting some of Trump’s worst demons.
“I can look myself in the mirror at the end of the day and say I avoided that tragedy, I avoided that tragedy, I avoided that tragedy,” Ryan said. “I advanced this goal, I advanced this goal, I advanced this goal.”
Despite the back patting, the last frantic year and a half seems to have taken a toll on the speaker’s psyche.
“I deal with conflict constantly,” he said. “I have, strangely, developed a great new respect for temperament,” adding that he “personally liked” President Barack Obama and appreciated his calm, stoic demeanor.
And sometimes, the cracks show in Ryan’s armor.
“I haven’t seen today’s — what did he do now?” he asked when told about the day’s newest Trump tweet.
Read the whole feature here.