Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury, will not set the Trump administration on fire. Best to look at this new release as fresh kerosene, rather than a flame-thrower. Unless Wolff is able to lead Special Counsel Robert Mueller to where bodies are charred and buried (and thus far the book has not) after the smoke clears, the revelations as to the inner sanctum of the White House promises to have no substantive impact other than gossip. The GOP knows it, loves it and sleeps well at night because of it. In short, Mr. Trump remains the person to support.
Over the past year, America has lived in a dystopian future where not only does President Trump act with impunity, but where he is aptly enabled by his own party. Republicans as a whole allow him free reign over America…and why not?
The GOP is fully aware that Trump entered the office having lost the popular vote by 2.9 million ballots. Within months his approval rating began to falter resulting in Trump’s dubious distinction of having the lowest approval rating of any new president in modern times. The GOP’s reaction to this seems to be two words. So what?
If Trump’s poll numbers are low, it’s because they’ve always been that way. While Trump has not gained any new followers, neither has he lost any. This suggests that he is free to continue being “Trump”, tossing tweets like lightning bolts into the crowd and the likes of Kim Jong Un, while simultaneously continuing his assault on the “fake news” media. Should Trump choose to lend his political support to alleged child molester Roy Moore, Trump can do that too. If apathy were the new flu bug, this winter it seems to have spread among the GOP who continue to enable Trump’s aberrant and often counter-productive behaviour.
Yet, the GOP may be happy enough with Trump, especially as they celebrate their first legislative “victory” in regard to the recent tax bill that was ostensibly “rammed” through the House.
Trump’s saving grace thus far has been the economy. As long as the economy continues to flourish, and thus far it has, both the GOP and Trump’s base seem content to give Mr. Trump a pass. Trump, fully aware of this fact, continues to de-regulate any industry whose economic growth might be stymied by Obama legislation—hence the numerous executive orders in regard to off shore drilling, coal mining, and the lifting of a slew of environmental protections. Trump is keenly aware that only economic wealth will maintain his reign, regardless of the price paid by the environment or the American people.
The GOP is willing to “aid and abet” as Trump continues to push his agenda, as well as theirs in a manner in which no other democratic leader could. Having adopted Trump’s “America First” doctrine, public perception, and foreign relations are simply considered collateral damage to Trump and his party. America lives in uncertain times when an embassy can be easily moved, and non-binding resolutions easily passed against the United States by the United Nations. Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N, can threaten to discontinue aid to allies who oppose U.S. foreign policy, and to throw a party for those who do. No harm, no foul. Thus far no political or economic price to pay.
The real genius at work is the fact that the GOP can make it stop quickly, suddenly and at any time they choose. While the Republican Party continues to ignore Mr. Trump, they no doubt continue to monitor the impact of his behaviour on the party at large. If and when Mr. Trump reaches the point of critical mass, such as indictment, or a “Blue Wave”, the GOP may “pull the plug” on this reign of terror either by beginning the impeachment proceedings or evoking the 25th Amendment. In other words, the GOP has a fail-safe device for Donald Trump, far more powerful than Trump or Kim Jun Un. In short, whether Mr. Trump knows it or not, he is expendable, a cog to be used until such time as it wears out or breaks down. Based on his recent tweets and behaviour including his “shithole countries” remark, the machinery may already be breaking down.
If Mr. Trump is removed from office, the Republican Party with minimal spin can blame any malfeasance on Mr. Trump and do so with plausible deniability. The GOP will take credit for having removed Mr. Trump for the good of the American people. The Republican Party will re-brand, no different than re-opening a business under new management. Regardless of Mr. Trump, Russian and the GOP, there remains one indisputable fact: the mid-term elections will be held this fall. Until voters decides to voice their discontent through votes, the Trump train will continue, with or without Democratic passengers.
k.g. Sambrano is a Canadian writer known for his works of literary fiction and poetry, and is an occasional freelance political writer.