Why Did I Read *That* Book?
Published in ChicagoNow, January 30, 2018 at 10:02 am
You know the one I mean. Fire and Fury. After hearing the author, Michael Wolff, say on Bill Maher’s show that the woman Trump was having an affair with was hinted at near the end of the book, I forced myself to finish what had become a boring read. Nikki Haley? OMG!
Do I believe this or any other juicy tidbits in Fire and Fury? Who knows? Does it even matter? The Access Hollywood tape didn’t matter. The parade of women who claimed Trump had sexually harassed them didn’t matter. The Stormy Daniels affair apparently doesn’t matter. So, if Nikki Haley had an affair with Trump to advance her career because she’s a very ambitious lady/politician, why would that matter?
You probably think I cribbed this from the Saturday Night Live skit in which contestants play a mock game show called What Even Matters Anymore? Well, I didn’t. I wrote the first part of this after watching Bill Maher’s show before the infamous skit.
Of course, I am not as funny or talented as Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, Kenan Thompson, Jessica Chastain, and the SNL writers. And I think they make my point much more effectively in their satirical treatment of this phenomenon. But I still have to ask myself why I set aside a wonderful book, Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward, to read this (pardon my Yiddish) dreck.
I think those of us who decided to read this book (and judging from it being #1 on every list of bestsellers, that’s a lot of folks) were looking for something to confirm our feeling that the Trump presidency was at best not normal and at worst a threat to our country’s democracy. But rather than enjoying the salacious gossip in Wolff’s book, I found it depressing because it seemed totally plausible.
As I write this on the morning before Trump’s State of the Union address, which I refuse to watch, lots of bad stuff has gone down. FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, a target of Trump’s ire, announced his early retirement. The Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, under the leadership of “recused” chair Devin Nunes, voted to release a memo he wrote that could give Trump the pretext to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the man who oversees Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. So many bodies have already fallen since Trump took office in an attempt to, in my opinion, stop the Russia probe.
All of this feels like something out of the Cold War era, except now our government seems to be playing with the Russians. If you are old enough to have read Mad Magazine in the 60s, you probably remember Spy vs Spy, one dressed in white and the other in black. And you also remember the spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show of the same era.
Or maybe *That* Book took you back to the Nixon era and Watergate. I remember the fear that gripped our nation until Richard Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974. He was facing almost certain impeachment and removal from office, so he cut a deal with Vice President Gerald Ford, who pardoned him. It was the cover-up of the crime and obstruction of justice that did him in. It took three years from the publication of The Pentagon Papers in 1971 to the Watergate break-in in 1972 to the conviction of many of Nixon’s aides to the infamous Saturday Night Massacre in October of 1973 in which Nixon fired Archibald Cox and abolished the office of the special prosecutor. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus resigned as a result, but somehow the investigation continued.
In all, 40 government officials from the Nixon administration were indicted or jailed, and Nixon left office is disgrace. History, not *That* Book, is what gives me hope that in the end, justice will prevail.