The short answer is: no. But I don’t do short answers, so here’s the long one.
In How Dare You, I described the fact that nearly a year into Trump’s presidency, his opposition has yet to come to terms with the fact that he did actually win the election:
The larger issue here is that those who would consider themselves our cultural betters have affixed to their beliefs the status of The Truth, by fiat. What is accomplished by this is the elevation of what really are mere opinions to base maxims of the sort that are the foundation of the country, thus in theory unassailable.
And so when Trump disagrees with this or that leftist talking point, and vehemently to boot, there is a collective shock that permeates the commentariat. How dare Trump express views which aren’t in agreement with the one Truth that is Leftism in all its forms? How dare Taylor Swift not instantly condemn Trump despite having no reason to voice an opinion, and furthermore how dare Taylor Swift disagree when she is declared to be a white supremacist? How dare Sidney Crosby, a white man, turn up to the White House to accept praise from Trump?
The fact that leftism has gone without a real challenge for multiple decades, and in particular through the Obama years, has rendered the nascent Trump era to be nothing short of a hammer blow through the sensibilities of most leftists. Many still haven’t come to terms with the fact that Trump really is the president, and more fundamentally that the Leftist Truth is not held as such by a YUGE swath of America.
The recent excitement over Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury, which bills itself as an exclusive inside look at the Trump White House, is further evidence that the failure to come to terms with Trump 45 is as prevalent as ever. Indeed, it seems that Trump Derangement Syndrome has reached levels that shouldn’t be possible. In the past week, this book has been endlessly covered in the mainstream media, with Wolff himself doing interviews with basically every network and media publication to drum up the hype, bolstered by stories of how the book has been flying off the shelves in record time.
President Trump has unsurprisingly said less than favorable things about the book, and in fairness it does require the reader to suspend logic at regular intervals. For a start, it tries to advance the popular meme that Trump really didn’t want to be president. Wolff’s ‘evidence’ for this is the fact that Trump actually ran the campaign of an authentic outsider.
The Trump campaign had, perhaps less than inadvertently, replicated the scheme from Mel Brooks’s The Producers. In that classic, Brooks’s larcenous and dopey heroes, Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom, set out to sell more than 100 percent of the ownership stakes in the Broadway show they are producing. Since they will be found out only if the show is a hit, everything about the show is premised on its being a flop. Accordingly, they create a show so outlandish that it actually succeeds, thus dooming our heroes.
The Trump calculation, quite a conscious one, was different. The candidate and his top lieutenants believed they could get all the benefits of almost becoming president without having to change their behavior or their fundamental worldview one whit: we don’t have to be anything but who and what we are, because of course we won’t win.
Many candidates for president have made a virtue of being Washington outsiders; in practice, this strategy merely favors governors over senators. Every serious candidate, no matter how much he or she disses Washington, relies on Beltway insiders for counsel and support. But with Trump, hardly a person in his innermost circle had ever worked in politics at the national level—his closest advisers had not worked in politics at all. Throughout his life, Trump had few close friends of any kind, but when he began his campaign for president he had almost no friends in politics. The only two actual politicians with whom Trump was close were Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie, and both men were in their own way peculiar and isolated. And to say that he knew nothing—nothing at all—about the basic intellectual foundations of the job was a comic understatement. Early in the campaign, in a Producers-worthy scene, Sam Nunberg was sent to explain the Constitution to the candidate: “I got as far as the Fourth Amendment before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.”
Almost everybody on the Trump team came with the kind of messy conflicts bound to bite a president or his staff.
In short, Wolff is perplexed at the fact that Trump was genuine, a trait foreign to those who work in journalism and politics. According to Wolff’s logic, the measure of Trump as a ‘serious candidate’ would have been his reliance on hundreds of so-called experts, who would have run every word he was to utter in public through carefully curated focus groups so as to craft the message which had the highest possibility of winning according to BIGDATA analysis.