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Horowitz: Trump Gives Dems Winning Hand Unless They Overplay It

Tuesday, January 09, 2018


Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff’s new book about the Trump White House, paints a now all too familiar portrait of a president whose temperament, ignorance, impulsiveness and all-consuming narcissism make him unfit to hold the office, siall-consuming of meeting the awesome responsibilities of the job we elected him to do. What makes Wolff’s book particularly devastating, however, is that this disturbing view of President Trump is not provided by his political opponents nor by anonymous sources; it is supplied by the actual words and thoughts of those who have worked closely with him in his first year as president.

Michael Wolff, who was granted extensive access to the White House and the people that work there, asserts that all the senior people who work or have worked for Trump in the White House believe he is unfit for the job, with the predominant view being that dealing with the president is like dealing with a child. The author drives home his points about one of Donald Trump’s problematic qualities-his practically non-existent attention span, by quoting former campaign aide, Sam Nunberg, When briefing the candidate on the Constitution, Nunberg told Wolff, that he got only as far as the Fourth Amendment "before (Trump’s) his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head."  In interviews since the book was published, Nunberg has confirmed the anecdote.

President Trump’s over-the-top and strategically unwise responses to the book not only call more attention to it, ensuring that it will be a runaway bestseller; they also reinforce and confirm the basic character traits Wolff hammers home. Trump’s tweets on the topic are far better suited to a high school playground or as replies by a comic to a disruptive audience member than to the role of President of the United States. For example, in one of a series of tweets attacking both Wolff and his former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who told the author many unflattering and damaging things about both Trump and members of his family, Trump writes, “Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book. He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!” And in a subsequent tweet Trump calls himself a “stable genius.”  To put it mildly, we are a pretty long way from Lincoln’s second inaugural speech.

The Wolff book is kicking-up the level of discussion of Trump’s mental health and cognitive capacities as well as giving more ammunition to advocates of impeachment.  As we look towards the mid-term, these are politically dangerous roads that Democratic candidates should not go down.  If psychiatrists and other mental health professionals want to speculate about the President’s mental health as some do in a new book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President, that is one thing, but for politicians to attempt to weaponize the argument will be viewed by too many swing voters as overreach.

Similarly, to call for impeachment as some Democratic members of Congress are, is at best premature. Any consideration of that step needs to await the results of the Mueller Investigation as well as the investigations by Congressional Committees. Persuadable voters will want to make sure we get the facts first before taking such a drastic step and removing a duly elected President.

Most American voters do believe Donald Trump is unfit to be President and is making our nation less safe.The straightforward argument that we need more Democrats to provide a check on his actions is a strong winning one.  This is the firm ground upon which voters will choose Democrats. Going any further risks turning a winning hand into a losing one.

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.


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