As we near the two-year mark since Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election، it's clear that some aspects of politics have changed. One feature that has not changed is the opposition's desire to damage the man and his administration by divulging insider information.
In January، author Michael Wolff published Fire and Fury، an explosive look at the dysfunction in the Trump White House. Once released، questions regarding accuracy surfaced and Wolff was required to defend his work. On MSNBC، during a segment with Katy Tur، the author even said، "If it makes sense to you، if it strikes a cord، if it rings true، it is true." Such flippancy and emotionally-guided thinking raise serious concerns about the book and the motivations behind it.
In August، former presidential aide and reality show veteran، Omarosa Manigault Newman، released Unhinged، a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the behavior of the commander-in-chief from a former employee's perspective. Throughout the book، Newman insists the president is "scattered، self-absorbed، misogynistic and insecure." She says Trump “loved conflict، chaos and confusion; he loved seeing people argue or fight.” On top of that، the former member of the Trump faithful possesses tapes of private conversations that are meant to disrupt an already on-edge White House.
Last Wednesday، the New York Times published an anonymous op-ed from a senior White House official. In it، the still employed individual states that the president، "...is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making." They also list his disinterest in conservative principles and penchant for veering off topic، among other things.
On Tuesday، Bob Woodward's book،Fear: Trump in the White House، was released. Unsurprisingly، it contains much of what we've previously seen، heard، and read. As Dave Ignatius wrote in his review at the Washington Post، "Only a man who is deeply worried about his own strength would talk as much as Donald Trump does about the danger of appearing weak. That’s my biggest takeaway from reading 'Fear،' Bob Woodward’s new book about the Trump presidency. The scoops were mostly revealed last week. What’s fresh is Trump’s repeated، obsessive talk about weakness during his first year in office."
Ignatius goes on to say:
"Woodward’s recounting of Trump’s conversations is a study in character، or lack of it. The president’s vanity، pettiness and meanness of spirit were evident already in his tweets and public statements. But here is the annotated version، as told to Woodward by Trump’s aides، replete with enough F-bombs to stock an arsenal of profanity."
There is a seemingly never-ending stream of "bombshell" revelations about this president. But each supposedly shocking morsel is anything but that. As Trump's first term continues، additional insider information will be leaked. It is almost certain that more books، revealing interviews، or clandestine articles will surface. Going by what has already been uncovered، though، there will be little that genuinely surprises us.
Aside from any criminal factors that may or may not arise (i.e.، the Mueller investigation)، anything of relative significance of the non-criminal variety does little more than confirm suspicions about the president's behavior. After all، voters have always known the character of the man who holds the highest office in the land. It was more than apparent on the campaign trail and in fact، the self-assertive، "we'll get it done" nature is what prompted many in the GOP to vote for him in the first place، despite any misgivings. This is not to say that everything contained within the books، articles، and in interviews with ousted employees is entirely factual. Though President Trump's claims of "fake news" are almost constant، he is not wholly incorrect. It's no stretch to say that a portion of these reports may be false or at the very least، bend the truth to fit an ongoing narrative.
But what if every word written by Wolff، Newman، Woodward، or even the anonymous official is true? What if nothing contained in their writings is an exaggeration? What does that mean for the presidency and the people who support it or don't?
The target audience for these publications is none other than those of like-mind. Anyone with a longstanding concern for Trump will continue to be outraged at a man who never impressed them in the first place. They will shake their heads in disbelief at his lack of morality، urgency، and knowledge of the office he holds. There will be little room for astonishment. On the other hand، his ardent supporters will remain entirely unmoved by any scandalous revelations. Not only were they fully aware of Donald Trump when voting for him، it's likely that they would dismiss any new questionable content that may arise. The economy is doing well، they view Trump as a strong leader on the world's stage، and frankly، they enjoy the petty (and not so petty) fights between the president the members of the media.
Unless these and future، revealing works about the current administration contain something unheard of andor downright criminal، their releases will have little impact on the electorate. If authors want to shift voters' perception of a controversial commander-in-chief، it will require more than what is already known.