Fire and Fury: A Tragedy

Immediately upon beginning Michael Wolff’s political tell-all, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, I was reminded of the books Barnes & Noble once placed near the checkout line, the amusing books about courtly scandals and the ridiculous hijinx of prominent historical figures. Some of them had silly titles, like Napoleon’s Privates. Some of them offered soap opera-worthy drama about royal family intrigue, exposing the private lives of long-dead nobility as entertainment for a 21st-century audience. No matter the book, no matter the subject, these revealing and sometimes ridiculing accounts always left the reader with the simple thought, These people are idiots.

Fire and Fury is no exception.

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Thoughts on the Trump Divide

A year into his presidency, American conservatives remain divided about Donald Trump. Their disagreement may shrink over time, as it has begun to. But it won't, and shouldn't, disappear. Uncompromising hostility toward him on the right is justified only if conservatives, contrary to common sense, think they have no stake in his success as president. Yet the fear for the right's future among Never Trumpers, which partly underlies their anger toward him, cannot be cured by Trump enthusiasts' fantasizing about a populist revolution for which there is little evidence. The undeniably negative perceptions of the right among the nation's elites, naturally exacerbated by Trump's nomination and election in 2016, are too important to be dismissed by claiming that only “the people” ultimately count in a democracy. For one thing, this claim is simply false. For another, the people elected Barack Obama twice, and more of them voted for Hillary Clinton than for Trump. Such facts don't prove the existence of a left-of-center majority. But they're enough to disprove a conservative or coherently populist one. And Trump's persistently low poll numbers are another massive inconvenience for those who think he is the answer to the Right's accumulated shortcomings and weaknesses.

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