Thursday, January 11, 2018

Trump Has Moved a Step Closer to Implosion

Amazon emailed me to confirm that I will receive my copy of "Fire & Fury" tomorrow, just in time for take it to Richmond as the husband and I head to Richmond for the inauguration of the Democrat slate that won in November and symbolize the rejection of Donald Trump and Trumpism by a majority of Virginians. As a political junkie and blogger, I may find fewer surprises in the book than some, but nonetheless, it should make for some entertaining reading provided that one can put aside the frightening reality that, in my opinion, a madman inhabits the White House. As a piece in New York Magazine notes, the book may not trigger Trump's downfall, but the expose it comprises has heightened the realization of more Americans that he is unfit for office even as he attacks the free press and libel laws that make public figures open to being the target of editorials and the like unless demonstrably factually false (if Trump doesn't want to be the target of many in the media, he should ceased his self-promotion years ago and never run for public office).  Most importantly, the book may push Trump towards thinking twice before a 2020 run.  Here are highlights:
Is there a chance in hell that this book will at long last be the catalyst for Trump’s demise? After all the other turning points that failed to fell Trump, from his ridicule of John McCain’s war record to the Access Hollywood tape to his pat on the head for neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, it would be foolhardy to say it will. But it may be a not-insignificant step on this president’s path to implosion.
First, it’s important to know what Fire and Fury will not accomplish.
It is not going to shake the loyalty of a single member of the Trump base, which, like it or not, accounts for roughly a third of Americans and the overwhelming majority of one of the nation’s two major political parties. Nor is it going to spur a revolt among Republicans in Congress. . . . It remains a liberal wet dream that a GOP-controlled Congress would impeach Trump, or that members of his Cabinet would invoke the 25th Amendment to yank him out of the White House. (The notion of Ben Carson standing in judgment on anyone’s mental health may be clinically insane in its own right.)
The only way Trump leaves office absent a Democratic sweep in the 2018 midterms is if he does so of his own volition: poisoning himself with his binges of Big Macs and Diet Coke; making a deal to head off pending indictments of himself, his son, or son-in-law; or breaking down mentally to the point where he is so unhappy, angry, and unmoored that he’d rather declare victory and take his marbles home to Mar-a-Lago. Fire and Fury has moved the latter process along. . . . it suggests that Wolff has quite successfully gaslighted him.
Let me add one other point I never thought I’d make: a modest defense of Michael Wolff. I am one of many journalists who have been the target of insults and scurrilous speculation in a Wolff piece at some point or another. It’s entirely consistent with his career that he’s gotten some things wrong in this book. But not that many things wrong, and not the big things; the book confirms what many others have reported about this White House . . .
Wolff’s re-creations of scenes are no more or less plausible than Woodward’s, and Wolff should not be faulted for favoring direct editorialization over Woodward’s technique of encoding his judgments in subtext. People are reading and buying Fire and Fury because the story rings true. It would also be highly entertaining, as pure and utter farce, if only the fate of America and perhaps the world were not at stake.
The sudden fall of Steve Bannon has been entertaining in its own way, but in terms of the political equation in America right now it will have zero effect. Bannon didn’t create the angry Trump base and its signature cause of white nationalism. It grew out of Sarah Palin’s incendiary campaign on the 2008 GOP ticket and the tea-party insurrection, violent reactions to the prospect and then the reality of America’s first African-American president.
No sooner had Bannon stepped down, after all, than Joe Arpaio, as grotesque a representative of Trumpism as Roy Moore, announced his candidacy for the Senate seat being vacated by the retiring anti-Trump conservative Jeff Flake, in Arizona. Arpaio and his followers could care less about Bannon or who is running Breitbart.
If anything, Bannon’s absence may leave Trump more vulnerable to the rages of his base. As long as the two were seemingly in touch — as they continued to be after Bannon was ousted from the White House — the crazies could assume they were being heard in the Oval Office. No more. . . . . Be assured the base’s abuse of the White House’s so-called “liberal Dems” (an interesting way to categorize a list of names transparently scapegoated for their Jewishness, not their liberalism) has only just begun.
 One can only hope that the circular firing squad in the White House intensifies.

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