The president’s response to Robert Wolff’s new political tell-all, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” is an obscene gesture made to a nation which reveres a free and independent press and diversity of opinion.
Yes, “Fire and Fury” paints a damning portrait of profound dysfunction within the Trump White House and a president with crippling insecurities, diminished mental capacity, and deep paranoia, but books and articles like Wolff’s are nothing new.
How else would we have learned that those satanic twins Bill and Hillary Clinton had murdered Vince Foster (“The Strange Death of Vincent Foster” by Christopher Ruddy)? Or about all the scandals swirling around the Clinton Foundation (“Clinton Cash” by Peter Schweizer)?
And thank goodness someone blew the lid off Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s dastardly plot to destroy our nation’s entire security infrastructure (“Trust Betrayed” by Scott Taylor), and another in which a mother falsified her newborn’s Kenyan birth records, ferreted him into the U.S., made him the 44th president, and completely destroyed our nation in the process (“Where’s the Birth Certificate?” by Jerome Corsi.)
Of course, George W. Bush had his 911 Truthers (“The Big Bamboozle: 9/11 and the War on Terror” by Philip Marshall) and even going way back to Ronald Reagan’s administration there was Kitty Kelly’s 1991 bombshell, “Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized Biography.”
And those are just the very tip of a very large iceberg. There have been literally hundreds of such books. Throughout history the response to all of these usually ridiculous — but always constitutionally protected — screeds has been the same: rebut, then ignore. Shake it off and get back to the people’s work.
For starters, Trump’s lawyers issued a demand that the book’s author and publisher (Henry Holt & Co.) “cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination” of the book. That threat was immediately followed by a Trump tweet calling “Fire and Fury” a “phony book” and – wait for it – “fake news.”
Trump’s lawyers even sent a cease-and-desist letter to Steve Bannon — just one of dozens of people quoted in the book — claiming that Bannon had made “disparaging” and “outright defamatory” statements about Trump and Trump’s family. Bannon has apologized for his comments but, interestingly, has not denied making them (again, likely because he too knows there are recordings.)
Largely pointless gestures since, according to experts like Robert S. Bennett, a former federal prosecutor and Washington attorney, it’s very difficult for a public figure like Trump to win a libel suit, further noting that threatening to block publication of the book is “very ill-advised,” makes Trump look weak, and makes the public wonder what he might be trying to hide.
So, what IS Trump trying to hide?
According to Politico, a bipartisan group of lawmakers “concerned about President Donald Trump’s mental state summoned Yale University psychiatry professor Dr. Bandy X. Lee to Capitol Hill last month for two days of briefings about his recent behavior. Lee briefed lawmakers. … Her professional warning to Capitol Hill: ‘He’s going to unravel, and we are seeing the signs.’
“In an interview, she pointed to Trump going back to conspiracy theories and denying things he has admitted before … Lee warned, ‘We feel that the rush of tweeting is an indication of his falling apart under stress. Trump is going to get worse and will become uncontainable with the pressures of the presidency.’ ”
There WILL be a moment when this man blows up spectacularly — hopefully not tragically.
At a recent CPAC convention, conservative firebrand Grover Norquist quipped, “We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go.” He held up three fingers before continuing. “Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen.”
Very cute, but Norquist and the entire supine Republican party might better observe that it requires only TWO working digits to light the match which will start a political maelstrom that will burn the memory of Trump’s enablers — craven, greedy, and lusting for power — into the minds of American voters for literally generations to come.
And that’s if they’re — we’re —- lucky. Because it takes only ONE working digit for the president to push that big red button sitting on his desk.
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Multiple award-winning author Charles Carr has written thousands of columns and articles for many of So Cal’s most noted publications. Thousands have attended his original theater productions. Contact him at charlescarr.com.