January 7, 2018

Sunday School, 1/7/18

Ready for this one? I mean, are you really ready for this one?  OK, here goes.

Michael Wolff was a guest on NBC's Meet the Press, with Chuck Todd behind the microphone. Here are few of the author's comments.

On how the whole thing came to be:
You know, I literally kind of knocked on the door and said, "Can I come in?" and they said "Okay." And I came in. I sat on the couch and that's the point of view that I've written this book from... 
On how Wolff's book seems to take the one-sided, anti-Trump approach he accused the media as a whole of taking:
...You know, I went into this, a decent part of the country went into this, his entire staff went into this thinking that maybe this can work. It's different, even peculiar, but who knows what can happen here? And that was exactly my, my frame of reference. I would have been delighted to have written a contrarian account here, Donald Trump this unexpected president, is actually going to succeed. OK, that's not the story. He is not. 
And finally, when will this hit the wall? 2020, or before?
Um, I think -- I don't know when the train is going to finally hit the wall... And the thing that keeps everybody's attention absolutely riveted - this global attention - is that the train keeps going, but the wall is still there. I mean one of the things, I think, about this book and why it's hit such a chord and become this cultural moment is it's given everybody this focused opportunity to say, "Holy crap."
Moving on to Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace had CIA chief (and possible Secretary of State if  Rex Tillerson gets the boot) Mike Pompeo defending the president's fitness.
When we talk about some of the most serious matters facing America and the world, complex issues, the president is engaged, he understands the complexity, he asks really difficult questions of our team at the CIA so that we can provide him the information he needs to make good informed policy decisions. 
And I watched him do that. I watched him take the information that the intelligence community delivers and translate that into policies that are of enormous benefit to America. Statements like the one Mr. Wolff made about how we all think about the president are just ridiculous on their face. They are frankly beneath the conversation this morning, Chris. 
When Wallace pointed out that it's in part a conversation today because Trump can't help himself and responds to what Wolff says, Pompeo did answer the fitness question.
Completely fit. I mean, I paused only because it's just a ludicrous question, right? These are from people who just have not yet accepted the fact that President Trump is the United States President. And I'm sorry for them in that.
Before turning to other more boring stuff, like the protests in Iran, Wallace asked one last question.
By raising questions about the president's fitness, in a sense -- and the president became part of it, making this the big topic this week - has this book weakened our country? Weakened our standing around the world?
Pompeo's answer was swift, and sure.
No. 
On ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, the roundtable gang talked about fire and fury of The Fire and Fury, too. The group was batting around that the president made it worse for himself by getting involved, kind of like Richard Nixon's "I am not a crook" comment messed things up for him. One panelist, Roland Martin, offered some insight.
This book changes nothing. I read 250 of the 350 pages last night. Bottom line is simple. Everything that he laid out we already knew, in terms of the kind of people (Trump) chose, the fact that you don't have principles, you don't have morals, you don't have ethics.And what you have here thought is a Republican party where you have different pieces. They get exactly what they want from Donald Trump.
You have white evangelicals. They don't care about  how he has treated women because all they want are federal judges who will get rid of same-sex marriage and abortion. You have folks on the business side, you get the tax reform. You have the folks who are all about the social issues, they get what they -- everybody gets exactly what they want.
This comes down to power. The Republican Party, they want -- all those folks, they want power. Donald Trump provides that. And so as long as he's there, and they can get what they want, it doesn't matter. This book will not change a thing. 
Stephanopoulos moved on from there.
It raised a question of power but...it does also raise these questions of the president's fitness. I mean, a lot of the anecdotes in there, let's say 50% of them are true... it raises serious questions about his mental capacity, his ability to process information, his impulse control.
Sara Fagen, an ABC News contributor, offered that the agreed the 50% figure George mentioned was about right (although Martin thought it might be 90%), and then talked about Trump.
It does. But it doesn't really matter. And it's not going to matter until and unless something very catastrophic happens as a result of a tweet or a provocation to another national - international leader. 
That, I think, is probably a true statement. 

See you around campus.