I know, I know … I need to move on to other, more serious topics, like Jeff Sessions’ decision to prosecute growers/sellers/users of marijuana in states where it is legal. And Trump’s truly terrible decision to open all U.S. waters to offshore oil & gas drilling. And Paul Manafort’s lawsuit against Robert Mueller. And … well, the list goes on, for in the Era of Trump, there is never a shortage of jaw-dropping moments about which to write. And I should be writing about those more serious topics, but I simply cannot seem to leave this ongoing saga of Michael Wolff’s new book, on shelves today, titled Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.
A brief recap up to yesterday (Thursday), in case any of you just returned from Borneo and hadn’t heard …
Journalist Michael Wolff wrote the aforementioned book, which is basically an exposé of the past 18 months with Donald Trump, his family, minions and others. One small section in the book had Steve Bannon, former White House Strategist and campaign manager, saying some things about Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and son Don Jr., regarding the June 2016 meeting between these players and Russian agents. Bannon called the meeting ‘treasonous’ and ‘unpatriotic’. Trump immediately fired back and said that when Bannon got fired, he “not only lost his job, he lost his mind”. That was on Wednesday.
And on Thursday, I awakened to this Washington Post headline:
Trump Lawyer Seeks to Block Insider Book on White House
Beverly Hills-based attorney Charles J. Harder, acting on behalf of Trump, sent both Steve Bannon and the book’s publisher Henry Holt & Co., ‘cease and desist’ letters, trying to halt publication of the book, which was scheduled for next Tuesday, January 9th. But it quickly became obvious that the letter did not constitute any legal obligation on the part of Henry Holt & Co. to halt or delay publication. In fact, it had the opposite effect, and yesterday afternoon, the publisher announced that Harder’s demand for Holt to “immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the book,” would not only be ignored, but the publication date was being moved forward to Friday (today), January 5th! Harder’s letter also demanded an apology from the publisher to Trump … what do you think the odds are there? And, they demanded a full copy of the book. Well, I guess they can go stand in line at Barnes & Noble and buy a copy like everyone else! Miss Goose informs me that based on pre-orders, the book has already become a best seller on both Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
Now, whose side did the right-wing, conservative media take? Trump’s, of course. Bannon may well end up regretting his words to Wolff. From Politico …
“From Fox News to the Drudge Report, all the way down the spectrum to far-right conspiracy sites like The Gateway Pundit and InfoWars, headlines Wednesday afternoon painted former presidential adviser Steve Bannon as unstable and self-interested, and President Donald Trump as a forceful defender of his family and administration.”
The Daily Caller declared, “Trump Puts Bannon In A Body Bag.” Even some of Bannon’s own cohorts seemed poised to desert a sinking ship. Breitbart commenters weighed in on the side of Trump, leading to a gleeful InfoWars story declaring, “Breitbart.com readers have overwhelmingly sided with Donald Trump over his war of words with former White House senior counselor Steve Bannon.”
But that isn’t the only price Bannon is paying. Rebekah Mercer, daughter of billionaire Robert Mercer of the notorious Cambridge Analytica, pulled her funding on Wednesday. It is, as yet, unclear what the response will be from other financial backers such as: Sheldon G. Adelson, Las Vegas casino magnate; Todd Ricketts, a Chicago Cubs owner; and Bernard Marcus, a Home Depot founder.
For the moment, it seems that Bannon is the biggest loser in the saga of Wolff’s book, but I do not think we have seen the end, for the book has much, much more than Bannon’s comments to give Trump grief.
For example, it is reported that Kellyanne Conway maligns Trump in private, though she is among his staunchest defenders in public. “She seemed to regard Trump as a figure of exhausting exaggeration or even absurdity…. She illustrated her opinion of her boss with a whole series of facial expressions: eyes rolling, mouth agape, head snapping back.”
Numerous other players in the game are named as having mocked Trump, including his own daughter, Ivanka, who described how he does whatever it is he does with that ‘thing’ on his head. And there are enough ‘leaks’ about meetings and strategies to keep Trump speculating and seeking revenge for months to com. Will he even seek revenge against his own daughter? It wouldn’t surprise me.
Since I said I should be writing something meaningful and serious, but I keep being drawn back to this story, partly for its humour value, I will present two serious questions, in light of the Wolff book:
- We all recognize that the revelations in this book are likely to drive Trump on a tear of vengeance and rhetoric spewing for weeks to come. Can he effectively be president if his time is being spent chasing perceived enemies? He will be leaving no stone unturned to find those who may have spoken against him. Can he do anything useful, anything that is expected of him for the salary we pay him? I doubt it, but then I would also say that if his attention is directed elsewhere, perhaps the government can actually run more smoothly, for he is hardly doing a stellar job.
- What does this mean for the November mid-term elections? My initial, out-of-the-gate reaction was that it would be bad for the GOP, good for the Democrats, as the Trump-Bannon feud is likely to splinter the party to some extent. I still lean in that direction, but I think it would be a huge mistake to operate under the assumption, for as we have seen in the past two-and-a-half years, much can go awry.
- I know I said two questions, but I had to add this one: How are people, the 37%-38% that are still saying Trump is great and wonderful and doing such a fine job … how are they seeing all this and still thinking there is anything of value in the White House???
I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming, while I go try to sink my teeth into something more … relevant and substantial.