The Slatest

Trump Apocalypse Watch: Is Paul Ryan a White Knight or a Horseman?

House Speaker Paul Ryan speaks to the media during his weekly briefing at the U.S. Capitol on March 3 in Washington, D.C.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Trump Apocalypse Watch is a subjective daily estimate, using a scale of one to four horsemen, of how likely it is that Donald Trump will be elected president, thus triggering an apocalypse in which we all die.

My fellow watchmen, I fear, have been asleep at their posts. It’s not the end of days that are upon us but the end of Trump, they have whispered in soothing tones as they slowly turn down the alarm from a reasonable two horseman to a measly fraction of a horseman. I will sit quietly no more! (Or, at least, not until the original watchman, Ben Mathis-Lilley, logs on in the morning and expels me from the tower upon seeing what I’ve done.)

I shared my epistemological dread about the coming Trump Apocalypse even before we started counting horsemen, but today’s news cycle gave me a whole new reason to stock my bunker with an eternity’s supply of canned food and bottled water. Take it away, Politico:

On the eve of the Wisconsin primaries, top Republicans are becoming increasingly vocal about their long-held belief that Speaker Paul Ryan will wind up as the nominee, perhaps on the fourth ballot at a chaotic Cleveland convention. …

Ryan, who’s more calculating and ambitious than he lets on, is running the same playbook he did to become speaker: saying he doesn’t want it, that it won’t happen. In both cases, the maximum leverage is to not want it — and to be begged to do it. He and his staff are trying to be as Shermanesque as it gets. … Of course in this environment, saying you don’t want the job is the only way to get it. If he was seen to be angling for it, he’d be stained and disqualified by the current mess.

Trump just went through one of his worst weeks of the campaign and here is the Republican establishment giving establishment-wary voters a reason to rally behind him. It’s even possible that if all this talk of a party savior increases, as it almost surely will, some Ted Cruz supporters will be convinced that the only way they’ll see a so-called outsider as the GOP nominee will be if that person locks up the nomination before the convention. And there’s only one candidate who can do that. And it’s not Ted Cruz.

Trump-fearing Republicans are trying to cast Paul Ryan as a white knight—but all I see on the horizon is a new horseman.

Today’s rating: one and a half horsemen.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images, Wikimedia Commons