Fear and Supposed Loathing in Trumpland

In yesterday's We Resist thread, I briefly mentioned Bob Woodward's new book on the Trump administration, Fear, in which Woodward depicts a presidential administration in chaos, because Donald Trump is a Russian nesting doll of character defects.

I noted that the picture Woodward paints "is either true, which is terrifying, or it's a conjured narrative that serves Trump (because he's always exploited the idea he is a fool to gain more power), which is terrifying, or, as I suspect, it's a little of both, which is the most terrifying."

Naturally, after reports from the book were made public, at the Washington Post and elsewhere, Trump took to Twitter to push back — or ostensibly push back, since he knows better than anyone that his tweeting about something will only raise its profile exponentially.

Trump is supposedly "livid," but is "limited in his ability to fight back because most of the interviews were caught on hundreds of hours of tape."

"Caught on tape" suggests Woodward surreptitiously recorded his subjects, which is not the case. Many of the administration officials who participated did so on background (anonymously), and many went on the record. Presumably, a number of them, if not all of them, participated with Woodward in a combination of background and on the record interviews. None of them are accusing him of secretly recording them.

So. The question is: Who is served by a "tell-all" in which Trump is portrayed as inept and dangerous (but never so inept and dangerous that the people who see him up close and personal every day are calling for his removal), and his aides are portrayed as heroes who are saving us from his worst excesses?

Again, I will remind you that Trump has encouraged people to underestimate him right into the United States presidency. And I will also note that virtually all of the people quoted by Woodward who are no longer with the administration were fired; they did not offer principled resignations explicitly warning that Donald Trump is a grave threat to the nation.

Instead, they helped him achieve his agenda, until they were shown the door. And it's not an erratic or inept agenda: It's a chillingly coherent agenda of white supremacy, nativism, patriarchy, dominionism, environmental destruction, and class warfare. That is, the Republican agenda for decades.

[Content Note: Disablist language] Chief of Staff John Kelly is, as always, the exemplar for striking this perfect balance between the appearance of a patriot and the actual business of an enabler:
Kelly frequently lost his temper and told colleagues that he thought the president was "unhinged," Woodward writes. In one small group meeting, Kelly said of Trump: "He's an idiot. It's pointless to try to convince him of anything. He's gone off the rails. We're in Crazytown. I don't even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I've ever had."
He's there, they're all there, because they want to enact the vile conservative agenda that they are indeed effectively enacting. It's not a mystery.

Kelly, of course, immediately issued a denial — sort of.

His statement never gets around to saying he doesn't think the president is an idiot. It asserts he never said it, but then pivots to noting that the two of them have a good working relationship; that he's committed to the president's agenda; that all of this is a distraction from their successes.

But it serves Kelly well if you believe he secretly loathes the president for whom he endeavors in the "worst job [he's] ever had" to achieve conservative domination, no matter the cost. Better that we think of him as a hero who is standing between Trump and the rest of us, rather than a very effective foot soldier for a movement that has orchestrated an authoritarian coup with the assistance of foreign intervention from a despot.

To whatever degree Trump is truly inept and dangerous (both of which he certainly is), the people who stick around in his administration, unless and until they are fired, aren't trying to protect the country or the world from Trump. They are trying to protect the conservative agenda from being derailed by him.

Over and over, we are asked to mistake as "keeping him in check" what is in actuality keeping him on track.

These are very different things. And we can't be fooled by traitors who want us to believe they are patriots.

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