Last year, the Al Smith charity dinner in New York City was graced by President Trump, who used his speaking time (usually reserved for light-hearted ribbing, for it is a charity event) to lay into Hillary Clinton while repeatedly attacking her character and qualifications for the presidency. The event was far less combative this year, returning to its traditional roots as a roast, but did feature something notable: Rep. Paul Ryan served as the keynote speaker at the latest iteration of the Catholic charity event and made jokes at the expense of the President as well as Democrats.
The Speaker of the House began by telling the clapping audience, “Please, enough. You sound like the Cabinet when Donald Trump walks into the room.”
Ryan kept the ball rolling, taking a jab at President Trump’s tweets that Ryan frequently is requested to comment upon. “Every morning, I wake up in my office and scroll Twitter to see which tweets I will have to pretend that I didn’t see later.”
Another joke was even more pointed in its criticism of the President: “I know last year at this dinner Donald Trump offended some people with his comments, which critics said went too far. Some said it was unbecoming of a public figure and that his comments were offensive. … Well, thank God he’s learned his lesson.”
He also managed to rib Trump as well as the media: “Everyone will report what happened here tonight differently,” Ryan said. “Breitbart will lead with ‘Ryan slams the president amongst liberal elites.’ The New York Times will report ‘Ryan defends the President in a state Hillary won.’ And the president will tweet, ‘300,000 at Al Smith dinner cheer mention of my name.'”
Continuing the pattern of lumping Trump with another target, Ryan flambéed Chuck Schumer, too. “I know why Chuck [Schumer] has been so hard on President Trump,” he said. “It’s not ideological. Chuck is just mad he lost his top donor.”
However, like a good roaster, Ryan saved the best barb for himself.
“Every afternoon, former Speaker John Boehner calls me up. Not to give advice. Just to laugh,” Ryan said.
Shakespeare wrote, “In jest, there is truth.” Shakespeare was mostly right.