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Books Donald Trump Paul Wood US Politics

‘President Pussy Grabber’ has his way with the GOP

A new book argues that Trump could destroy the Republican Party.

12 July 2018

3:17 PM

12 July 2018

3:17 PM

As I write this, the Trump reality show is about to touch down in Britain. President Trump will meet the Queen at Windsor, visit the Prime Minister’s country home, Chequers, and go to a black tie dinner in Blenheim Palace, where he will be welcomed with military pageantry by the combined bands of the Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards. There will also be two days’ golfing in Scotland. If Rick Wilson had his way, none of this would be happening, apart from the golf. Wilson is a founder member of the Republican Never Trump movement. After The Donald announced his candidacy, in 2015, Wilson wrote to big Republican donors he knew and warned them: “We can spend a few million now to stop Trump, tens of millions if we wait until the Fall of 2015 or hundreds of millions in the Spring of 2016 . . . or just wait until he destroys the GOP and we have to spend several billion to rebuild our party.”

No one listened. In Everything Trump Touches Dies, Wilson describes his further efforts to stop Trump becoming the party’s nominee. In the spring of 2016, he was part of a small delegation of influential Republicans who met secretly with James Mattis, the former commandant of the Marine Corps, to try to persuade him to run. This was “a last, desperate bid to find someone—anyone—with the stones and the record to leap into the presidential race, pull an Eisenhower, and save the country from Trump.” Had they succeeded Trump might still be hawking rubbery steaks or condos in Panama and pretending to fire people on TV. Instead, he is The President and Mattis is merely “the most vital stabilizing force” in his spinning top administration.

Wilson was a field director for George H. W. Bush, an aide to Dick Cheney (as defence secretary), and a strategist on Rudy Giuliani’s doomed Senate campaign – over a long career as a political consultant, he ran ads for Republicans in 38 states. He is a political hit man who wrote one of the most notorious negative ads in modern US electoral history. This was the 30-second TV spot that knocked Max Cleland out of the Georgia Senate race in 2002 by questioning his “courage to lead”— Cleland had lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam. “I am the guy you call when it’s time to run the ads that end the campaign,” Wilson says. “I am the guy you call when you’re in the back of the police car outside the shady massage parlor and you have to be on the floor of Congress to vote in 24 hours.”


Another marker: Wilson loves guns. Visitors to his Florida ranch are invited to shoot one of this three AR-15 semi-automatic rifles. I once saw him in Washington DC wearing a paracord bracelet. He explained (jokingly) that he wasn’t allowed to have a pistol because of the District’s strict concealed carry laws but at least he could garrotte any muggers. So, Wilson is no handwringing, liberal pantywaist. Everything Trump Touches Dies is a howl of rage and pain from an authentic red-in-tooth-and-claw conservative. It is also an enjoyable romp, packed with Wilson’s trademark sass and snark, a cogently and eloquently argued polemic from an expert in how to do politics in America.

He is very disappointed in his fellow Republicans. What victories they think they have won after joining the Trump Train are “transitory and ephemeral and come at the cost of their principles and, probably, their immortal souls.” Many realise that their party has been the subject of a hostile take over. “Every week at least a couple members of Congress call me as their father confessor to admit their sins and avow their hatred of Trump.” But, Wilson writes, they don’t have the courage to speak out. They are terrified of a Trump tweet rage storm and the ensuing primary challenge. The result, he argues, is the daily aberration of the Trump presidency.

In this book, Trump is President Pussy Grabber, a self-admitted sexual harasser, a serial adulterer who engaged in a string of risible, sleazy affairs to meet a desperate need to have his manhood validated, a man with a lemur wig and a twelve-pound bolus of chin-wattle who thinks he’s irresistible to women, a faux billionaire up to his ample ass in debt, a man who has boasted about his own dishonesty in life, marriage, and business, a TV talk show character who slithered into the Oval Office on a tide of Russian influence and now thinks he won on his merits, a president without a shred of dignity, an international laughing stock, a man of spectacular vulgarity, vanity, and gimcrack gold-leaf aesthetic, a shallow, lazy, ignoramus with the attention span of a gnat on meth and a grasp of history derived solely from the movies, an absurd lout, a ludicrous clown, a verbally incontinent, psychologically unbalanced stain on the presidency, the living, shitty embodiment of a culture that’s more Real Housewives and less Shining City on a Hill, a presidential chimpanzee throwing his feces, and – most worryingly for Wilson – America’s first modern president with genuinely authoritarian inclinations.

He writes: “Republicans are failing the test of our time, and slipping into the warm bath of totalitarian language, practice, and politics.” He pleads for Americans to keep Reagan’s words in mind: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” Is this a real prospect? Trump’s friend and advisor, Roger Stone, has warned that if the President is impeached there will be “a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you’ve never seen.” It could even lead to civil war. “Both sides are heavily armed…there would be violence on both sides.” It is, though, hard to imagine Trump’s downtrodden followers getting up from the couch, snapping off the TV and leaving the trailer park to march on Washington. The ones I met at Trump rallies were more tired than angry.

And the rule of law – the thing that America stands for above all – is surviving. The investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia continues. Trump has argued that he cannot, by definition, be guilty of obstructing justice: since he is at the top of the federal government that would be to obstruct himself. He has also stated his belief that he can pardon himself. But so far, he has not fired Mueller. He seems more likely to retreat to his golf courses and his luxury hotels than abolish the constitution and appoint himself president-for-life. The Republic will (probably) survive Trump. Whether the Republican Party can is – as Wilson argues – another matter.

Paul Wood is a BBC correspondent


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