The winter bomb cyclone that hit the White House last week in the form of Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury,” offered a scathing portrayal of a White House in chronic disarray and portrayed Donald Trump as mentally unfit and intellectually unprepared and uninterested in being president.
President Trump, his aides and his Republican defenders are in crisis management mode trying to mitigate lasting fallout from that bomb.
Much has been said since the Wolff book exploded onto the scene, including that some of the details are not true and that they are par for the course for a bombastic and controversial writer like Wolff.
But there does seem to be wide consensus from real journalists — not partisans — who have covered Trump on the campaign and in the White House that agree that the overall portrayal of Trump in the book — that he is ill-prepared, shows little interest in the details of policies, that folks around him are concerned that he is not up to the task of being president — are accurate.
This is the most damning aspect that can be derived from this book. It’s not that the overall picture is anything we haven’t seen before or that any of it shows us anything new about Trump himself. What is damning is the notion that even those closest to the president do not believe he is fit to carry out the duties of the office.
Trump’s own response demanding that he is a “very stable genius” proves he is anything but that. This should be concerning to every American as it is to all of our allies and global partners around the world.
While the portrait Wolff paints of Trump is nothing new to those who always understood how unfit Trump was to serve as commander in chief, Trump apologists will stop at nothing to destroy the credibility of the writer and to push back on every aspect of the book, no matter how clear and obvious the signs are to the contrary.
A few things are working against the credibility of Trump and those who are coming to his defense:
First, Trump’s staff allowed Wolff unfettered access to the West Wing. That Trump and his allies are now going after Wolff belies just how naïve and completely inexperienced they all were in thinking a reporter could be trusted without any journalistic guidelines in place.
It also proves Wolff played them all like a fiddle. He wrote nice pieces about Trump early on and made sure to criticize the mainstream media for being too hard on Trump in their coverage. He ingratiated himself in the most blatant and transparent manner possible — he catered to Trump’s ego.
Second, this book proves that Trump played his supporters and those who voted for him. He promised them that once elected, he would “be so presidential” we would all be bored. Well that day of Donald Trump acting presidential still has not come, nor will it.
Many people voted for him believing he would pivot and focus on governing and actually representing those “forgotten” voices he spoke so often about during the campaign. Trump not only played them for fools, he has wholeheartedly betrayed them, putting his own ego, image, financial worth and press coverage above all else. Nothing matters to him more than how he is portrayed in the media and to the public.
This was not what many of his voters signed up for. They wanted a disruptor to be sure, and Trump has been that. But they wanted one that would work for them, not just focus on himself, his image and the image of his family.
Trump’s dismally low approval numbers suggest those voters may be on to him as he has been losing support from the very people who got him elected — white men without a college education.
Third, many people say Trump is furious at this book because of Stephen Bannon’s quotes about his children. If that is the case, he only has himself to blame. These are not innocent, underage children who are looking for a normal upbringing in the fishbowl of the White House.
These are grown adults who have chosen to accept patronage jobs in the administration. Trump has put them in positions of scrutiny. That is what democracy is about.
That, when all is said and done, is what Trump is most infuriated by: that this is a democracy. He’s angry that he and his staff will be held accountable; that he cannot dictate what he does and how he does it; and that there are checks and balances he must adhere to, even as he tries to deteriorate them and denigrate them.
It is no wonder he acts out in a manner portraying tremendous unfitness for office. He let someone in and gave them a glimpse of who he really is, how he feels and how his staff feels about him. It painted an ugly picture, but one many of us had already seen a long time ago.
Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.
Story Originally posted on the Hill