Paul Ryan and Donald Trump jostle to be king of Capitol Hill
Maureen Dowd: After House speaker's rebuff, the two sit down to hash it out
Donald Trump. Photograph: Travis Dove/The New York Times
House Speaker Paul Ryan. Photograph: Zach Gibson/The New York Times
“Welcome to Washington, Donald,” Ryan says, shaking hands with the presumptuous nominee. “Reince says you’re far more gracious in private than in public and I sure hope that’s true.”
Trump smirks and pulls out his bottle of industrial-strength sanitiser, squirting a prodigious amount on his hands. Trying to thaw the chill, the House speaker displays his best ingratiating Irish undertaker air. “Hey,” he says, “thanks for not calling me Lyin’ Ryan.”
“I never use the same adjective twice,” Trump replies coolly. “As you know, I do have killer instincts. That’s how I knocked out 16 losers. So let’s try a few names for kicks. Pious Paul? Pompous Paul? Phony Paul? Back-Stabbing, Blindsiding Paul who hung me out to dry to protect his own presidential ambitions for 2020?”
Ryan blanches, protesting: “No, no, I just want us to come together with a positive vision.”
“I am positive,” Trump says, manspreading as party aides cower in the corners. “I’m positive that what you did was terrible. You’re just giving cover to more traitors, like that reject Lindsey Graham, who I beat like a toy drum. Now Nasty Lindsey’s on TV spewing hate and saying my convention should be held in Area 51. The only number he needs to remember is zero – the number of votes he got.”
Ryan puts on his best altar-boy demeanour, which annoys Trump.
“Look at that face!” the billionaire mocks. “Or should I say two? Two-Faced Paul. You’re just mad because you and Mitt wanted to lead white male America and instead I’m going to. Romney choked. And what about that time you lied about how fast you ran a marathon? Cheatin’ Ryan. A choker and a cheater.”
“Now Donald, be reasonable,” Ryan says. “I’m just trying to figure out how to endorse you and not put my own majority at risk. We can’t be a bigoted, angry party. You just make our problem with Hispanics worse when you tweet a picture of yourself eating a taco bowl on Cinco de Mayo.”
Ryan rolls his eyes. “Thousands of those retweets were by people you offended,” he says. “You can’t judge everything by numbers. We have to maintain American values. Banning Muslims is not what we stand for. Try to be more like Reagan.”
“Fine,” Trump shoots back. “I’ll start my campaign in Mississippi Klan territory like Reagan. You establishment guys are such phonies. You wanna use race as a wedge issue but be subtle about it. I AM NOT SUBTLE. I have brought millions of people into the party and you have been unbelievably unfair to me. I am the greatest political phenomenon in history.”
“Donald, you need to rein it in,” Ryan persists. “Your volatility scares people. Everyone is shuddering at the thought that you are about to get classified intelligence briefings and at your bromance with Putin. No one believes that you’re a genuine conservative. You support Planned Parenthood, raising the minimum wage and some higher taxes on the wealthy, our people. You’re Bernie Sanders with even weirder hair.”
“Well, Two-Face,” Trump retorts, “if you’re such a big-deal conservative, why did you push for that budget increasing spending by billions, funding Obama’s executive amnesty programme, relocation of terrorist refugees and sanctuaries cities – but somehow no money for the border fence? You’re a white Obama. Bad! Sad!! The nuns said your budgets were so mean and un-Christian they wanted to beat erasers around your head.”
Trump harrumphs. “Well, I have Four-Eyes Rick Perry doing a grovelling about-face to support me. Who wants the Bushes, that pathetic dynasty? Sour grapes because I called out W on his horrible war and Jeb on his terrible campaign. No low energy in Cleveland! My convention is going to rock with celebrities and hot women. We’re going to have Mike Tyson and that tiger. We’re going to have Bobby Knight and Miss Aruba MC-ing. We might even have a beauty pageant with Gary Busey judging. Carly won’t be in it. But your wife . . .”
“Women love me!” Trump objects. “Didn’t you see that famous New York Post headline quoting Marla, my second wife, saying, ‘Best Sex I’ve Ever Had’? I love the women who vote for me – even the poorly educated, flat-chested ones.”
Ryan, beaten down and late for his P90X workout in the House gym, gives it one last shot. “Donald, you need to stop quoting the National Enquirer and do some homework,” he pleads.
“You can’t suggest we are going to slough off our debt, even though that’s what you did with your creditors when you kept going bankrupt. And you should remember that I’m the senior elected Republican in the country.”
“For now,” Trump murmurs, taking out his hair spray for a spritz before he walks past the press octopus. “What I will remember is that you sabotaged me when I should have been savouring my success.
“And you should remember the No 1 rule from The Art of the Deal: There can be only one No 1, Two-Face.”
–(New York Times)