According to the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, Tim Alberta's upcoming book, "American Carnage," features prominent Republicans going on-the-record regarding their—notably newfound—loyalty to the president. Many believe Trump's newer high-profile followers only joined the fray to protect their own self-interest, and among the many converts, one stands out from the rest: Paul Ryan. Dawsey highlights Ryan's jelly-like convictions:
Perhaps no one has had a more tortured relationship with the president than former House speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) — who went from wanting to abandon Trump after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape to working to enact his agenda after the election all while doing his best to avoid commenting on his tweets and controversial statements.
Now out of office and trading in his power suits for a blue vest, Ryan is back to critiquing Trump in unflattering terms in conversations with Alberta, who writes the former speaker could not stand the idea of another two years with the president and saw retirement as an “escape hatch,” in Alberta’s words.
By finally speaking up in Alberta's book, Ryan seals his legacy. Whether supportive of Trump's policies as a lawmaker or not, none can deny Ryan's blatant disregard for the wellbeing of the American people when it came to handling the president, whose incompetence Ryan readily identifies.
Yet Ryan defends himself and his public allegiance to Trump. According to the Post, Alberta's book features this key explanation from the former Speaker of the House:
“I told myself I gotta have a relationship with this guy to help him get his mind right,” Ryan recalls. “Because, I’m telling you, he didn’t know anything about government . . . I wanted to scold him all the time.”
Although many disagree with his method for doing so, Ryan attempted to keep what he saw as the president's dangerous tendencies in check. Dawsey continues:
“Those of us around him really helped to stop him from making bad decisions. All the time,” Ryan says. “We helped him make much better decisions, which were contrary to kind of what his knee-jerk reaction was. Now I think he’s making some of these knee-jerk reactions.”
One has to wonder what these "knee-jerk reactions"—the ones Ryan says he oh-so-gallantly halted—might have been from a White House full of ever-looming executive orders and complete disregard for the separation of powers; it's clear his efforts never stopped Trump from wreaking havoc. If Ryan truly disagreed with the president's actions, he should have said so—loudly and publicly. Failing to do so puts the rest of the country at great risk, as it is still being led by the very man Ryan attempted to thwart.
Furthermore, Ryan could not have been that afraid of what the president might do without his "help." According to Alberta, Ryan used retirement as an "escape hatch" in order to run away from a rogue leader, leaving his country and constituents behind.
For some people, Ryan's efforts to hinder the president were crucial. As Patricia Murphy writes for Roll Call:
If there’s one thing Republicans will eternally owe Paul Ryan, it’s that he never made the tumultuous last two years worse than they could have been....Not only was Ryan’s good-guy image genuine, but his down-to-Earth decency and self-restraint were also an important counterbalance to the bottomless scandals down the street in the West Wing.
According to Murphy, Ryan's legacy is not perfect, but those opposed to Trump should be thankful to any politician working counter to the president's so-called "knee-jerk" attempts to transform the country.