Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Fire and Fury, Signifying Nothing

I want to preface this by saying the following: I'm a registered Independent that hates both of the two parties with a heat of a thousand fiery suns. I didn't vote for the current President- he is most definitely not my cup of tea. But the latest political hot button issue of the week (that is, until Oprah stole the show at the Golden Globes on Sunday) finds me in the uncomfortable position of wondering if those opposed to this current administration might have finally gone too far.

Michael Woolf's allegedly explosive book Fire and Fury on the Trump White House has been flying off the shelves. It's the new Fifty Shades of Grey and everyone is dying to read it. There seemed to be a groundswell of feeling this past week that by God, if we can't pin Russia on him, we'll just say he's crazy. That'll do it for sure.

Never mind the fact that President Mike Pence wouldn't exactly be an improvement on the current occupant of the White House. Never mind the fact that there are far more effective and more important reasons to oppose the policies of this administration- reasons that, could, for instance, lead to actual policies, that real life candidates could, you know, run on. No, let's write a book saying he's crazy. Because that's what our political discourse has come too in this country. If you miss the dunk on a winnable election, then it's got to be someone's else fault.

But that's not the worst of it: the damn thing may not even true. The author himself has admitted as much. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has called the parts of the book he's involved in 'complete invention.' Vogue Editor Anna Wintour called the claim she asked President Trump to be ambassador to the UK, 'laughably preposterous.' Perhaps the craziest part of all is that Mr. Woolf is convinced that this is going to be the thing that brings down President Trump. This book which parts of may or may not even be true. That's going to do it. This piece of dubiously sourced fan fiction is going to do the trick- it will in the words of the author, 'lift the veil from our eyes' about this President.

Well, it's lifting a veil from my eyes all right. Just not the one that Mr. Woolf was aiming for, I think. While the President is rightly being condemned for his calls for tighter libel laws and his reaction to the book was about what you'd expect from this President, this book risks the one thing I expect his opponents are hoping won't happen. It risks proving him right.

It's very easy to roll your eyes at the constant screaming about Fake News. But here we have a dubiously sourced book, parts of which might not even be true, whose sole purpose is to try and convince us that the President is crazy and unfit for his office. I loathe the fact that I have to say this, but if this piece of fan fiction isn't the definition of Fake News the President keeps ranting about I don't know what is.

And here's the stupidest part of all: reporting on all the ephemera (like every Tweet the President sends, this book, and increasingly, the Russia investigation) obscures the fact that the Democratic Party is both in dire straits and not that far away from flipping the script on this Presidency in short order.

Think about it: if the Democrats can hold all the states they won in 2016 (which isn't a given in the current climate, but just go with me on this) then all they need is to win Florida and flip Ohio, Michigan or Pennsylvania and President Trump is a one term President. That's it.

Do they have work to do on the state level? Absolutely. Is winning anything in 2018 or 2020 guaranteed? No. But if you find a message that can win in all 50 states, all this could go away very quickly- but if people are more concerned about the latest gossip that sells books instead of your message, it could be a long six years ahead.

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