The book on President Trump by journalist and author Michael Wolff has provided critics of the president, including the national news media, the indictment special prosecutor Robert Mueller has so far been unable to deliver. It is rich in detail and like many indictments, once all the known facts are assembled in one place and according to a timeline, it paints a clearer picture.
Like other controversies of the Trump presidency, this one has consumed the administration for several days. Once again, the work of the American people has been put on hold while the White House staff and top members of the administration rally to save the president from himself.
According to Wolff, that has been their full time job since a few hours after the president was sworn in on January of 20th of last year. The first public signal that something was wrong may have been when former press secretary Sean Spicer was forced out to the briefing room to claim Trump’s inauguration crowd was larger than it seemed. Why would the most powerful man in the world spend any time on such a trivial issue if he were of sound mind?
This week at the White House, Spicer’s successor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, continued the charade, attacking Wolff and former presidential advisor Steve Bannon, who she had praised and protected from the same podium only a few months ago.
The White House counter attack against Wolff is flawed in many respects. To begin with it is too strong. If Wolff is a writer who lacks credibility, if the story he is telling is baseless, then the best way for the White House to deal with it would be to dismiss it, ignore questions about it and refuse to engage. Instead, President Trump’s team has over-argued its case from the moment the story began to break and as usual resorted to lying as a core strategy. Guess what fools, Wolff has it all on tape.
The most damaging material in the book comes straight from Bannon so the president has distanced himself for his former chief strategist, downplayed his role in the 2016 campaign, labeled him crazy and threatened legal action against him. Which leads us to wonder; if the Wolff book is full of lies, why punish Bannon? Is he not the victim of a reckless writer?
In one of her news conferences this week Sanders said it was “laughable” to question the president’s mental health. Is it? This is the same man who last year woke up on a Saturday morning and accused President Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower. Later he admitted his claim was not true. This is the president who claimed he won the popular vote in 2016 if millions of illegal votes were discounted. When he took office, in an effort to support this lie, he abused his power by appointing a commission to study voting irregularities. This week, he quietly disbanded that commission when it found nothing.
President Trump thinks if foreign leaders treat him well personally it means our nation has a successful foreign policy. He seems unaware of the fact that he is the leader of a government he constantly disparages. In the midst of a sexual harassment awakening, he has sexually harassed a sitting U.S. senator. He spends hours each day watching television and talking back to those he sees on TV through his Twitter account. He is playing chicken with nuclear weapons with the only man in the world who appears more unstable than he is. His own secretary of state has been forced to state on the record that he does not consider the president a moron and has never questioned his mental health.
These are all statements of fact that have been on the record long before the Wolff book if anyone cared to look. They show it is not laughable at all to question the president’s mental health — it is absolutely necessary.
Is it time yet? Is it time yet for Republicans in Congress to begin asking tough questions about President Trump’s stability and fitness for office, or do we need more proof that we have entrusted our country to an incompetent poser? Is it time for White House staffers to come forward and explain the dysfunction of this White House, or do we need catastrophe beyond what we have already seen?
While we wait for investigator Mueller to weigh in on the ultimate question of campaign collusion with the Russians it is clear another kind of collusion is putting the safety of the nation and the world at risk. Any Republican, who for partisan reasons continues to protect this president, any member of the administration who fails to stand up to the president for the sake of his or her own career, is in collusion with this president by extending the duration of his time in office and they should be held accountable when things come crashing down. They could have intervened before now and for the most part they have failed. They have failed us.
The conclusions of the Wolff book may be self-evident, but the details make the big picture impossible to ignore any longer. Something must be done to restore basic competency to the White House.