Paul Ryan Admits He Didn’t Realize Trump Was Insulting Him to His Face

Don’t count the House speaker’s humiliation as one of the “tragedies” he’s avoided in the Trump administration.

Alex Edelman/ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

It’s safe to assume that referring to a 48-year-old man as “boy scout” within a professional context is a less-than-subtle insult, particularly if it’s said by one’s superior.

But that seemingly obvious premise appears to have been lost on House Speaker Paul Ryan, whose boss, President Donald Trump, made a habit of calling him “boy scout” to his face. “I thought it was a compliment,” the Wisconsin Republican recently admitted to Mark Leibovich for a New York Times Magazine profile.

It only became apparent to Ryan that Trump was using the nickname disparagingly when the president announced that as a reward for Ryan’s leadership over the first several successful passages of Republican-led bills last year, he would no longer refer to him that way. 

“So I guess he meant it as an insult all along,” he told Leibovich. “I didn’t realize.”

Ryan went on to assert that he’s helped avoid unspecified “tragedies” in the Trump administration. It’s clear from the “boy scout” anecdote, however, that his own humiliation by the president isn’t one of them.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate