Most of the media's attention on journalist Michael Wolff's "explosive" new book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House has focused on the disclosure that Trump's former political strategist Steve Bannon used the words "treasonous" and "unpatriotic" to describe Donald Trump, Jr. and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner's infamous June 2016 meeting with Russians claiming to possess damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
Talking media heads are also agog over Bannon's assertions that the Donald, Jr. certainly introduced his father to the Russians and that Trump is vulnerable on Russian money laundering through Deutsche Bank.
What really leaped out at me from The New York Times' write-up on Wolff's book, however, is the total contempt that Boss Tweet's own associates and advisers have for him:
"The book presents Mr. Trump as an ill-informed and thoroughly unserious candidate and president, engaged mainly in satisfying his own ego and presiding over a dysfunctional White House. It reports that early in the 2016 campaign, one aide, Sam Nunberg, was sent to explain the Constitution to the candidate. 'I got as far as the Fourth Amendment,' it quotes Mr. Nunberg as saying, 'before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.'
"The book ... quotes an email from an unnamed White House aide offering a harsh assessm ent of Mr. Trump's operation: 'It's worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won't read anything -- not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored.'
"The book also asserts that Mr. Trump's advisers and associates deride him in private, calling him an 'idiot,' a 'dope' or 'dumb' as dirt. Thomas J. Barrack, a friend and adviser to Mr. Trump, was quoted telling a friend that the president is 'not only crazy, he's stupid.'" (emphasis added).
"Stupid" may be putting it mildly. Recall the description of Trump that his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson refused to disavow: "f*cking moron."
The disclosures come as the Insane Clown President has just taken his childish and reckless Twitter war with his opposite number Kim Jong-un to a new low by saying "my nuclear button is bigger than his -- and it works."
Nobody should be surprised by the "revelation" that Trump is a malignantly narcissistic "dotard" (Kim's entertaining description) and dysfunctional "idiot." That's been clear to anyone who isn't themselves a hopeless moron since the beginning of Trump's political career, festooned with the ridiculous and racist charge that Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States.
The real question is how an "idiot surrounded by clowns" got into the White House. The Democratic Party establishment wants people to think that Russia did it -- a charge as moronic as Trump's claim to have won the popular vote but for millions of illegal immigrant ballots.
The neo-McCarthyite Russiagate gambit is calculated to distract attention from the dismal, demobilizing, and dollar-drenched Democrats' own responsibility for putting Trump in office by (a) making policy (under both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama) in cringing accord with the regressive, state-capitalist and corporate-globalist commands of Wall Street; (b) crushing progressive, social-democratic forces in their own party; and (c) mounting a horrific presidential campaign (Hillary 2016) that made numerous unforced errors, like failing to visit Wisconsin after the Democratic National Convention and calling (however accurately) half of Trump's backers "deplorables."
This is not to say that Trump deserves no credit for his victory. Even the "f*cking moron" and his clown team had the basic smarts to keep the evangelical Ted Cruz wing of the Republican electorate on board by granting significant influence and position (including the Vice Presidency) to the theocratic right. The p*ssy-grabbing reality-television real estate magnate from godless New York City would not have prevailed in the general election without that deft move.
At the same time, Trump won because of underlying historical and structural factors that are part and parcel of the onset of the long neoliberal era. Even an "idiot" like Trump was able to exploit the onset of corporate globalization, automation, increased international competition, austerity, extreme (New Gilded Age) wealth concentration, and accelerated plutocracy to promise economically squeezed voters a restoration of the vanished middle-class American Dream. His call to "Make America Great Again" resonated with mass white nostalgia for the long lost Golden Age (1945-1973) of unmatched U.S. economic prosperity.
The "dope" Trump benefitted from the depth and degree of the 2008-2009 financial collapse and recession and the weak, low-wage recovery that followed while Wall Street and corporate profits soared to obscene new heights with help from the Bush-Obama bailouts. The severe economic hit helped de-legitimize establishment candidates like Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio last year. It made the real presidential contest a race between a "populist" and "outsider" of "the left," fueled by small donors -- the progressive neo-New Dealer Bernie Sanders -- and Trump, a self- and Mercer-financed billionaire "populist" and "outsider" of the right.
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