It’s beginning to look as though Michelle Obama does not like Donald Trump. In her new memoir, Becoming, she explains why. Her beef with Trump centers on his embrace of the birther controversy about her husband, who was supposedly born in Indonesia or some other far off country — anywhere but America: ‘The whole thing was crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed. But it was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks. What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this I’d never forgive him.’
Questioned about Obama’s statement this morning, Trump flew off the handle. Trump, who is headed to Paris for the weekend, where he will pal around with French president Emmanuel Macron, not to mention Russian president Vladimir Putin, resorted to his beloved tu quoque maneuver. He suggested that Obama’s statement wasn’t about family values, but simply inserted into her book to generate controversy. He also accused her husband of deliberately neglecting the US military: ‘Well, I’ll give you a little controversy back…I’ll never forgive him for what he did to our United States military. I’ll never forgive him for what he did in many other ways, which I’ll talk to you about in the future.’ What the vague formulation ‘in many other ways’ really means is that Trump can’t specify Obama’s derelictions right now because he needs more time to invent them. Don’t worry: if necessary, he will.
Trump has been pretending that he’s riding high after the midterm elections, but he faces numerous impediments. For one thing, the estimable historian Geoffrey Kabaservice notes that the demise of the moderate Republican may have been exaggerated. He observes, ‘the picture looks considerably more favorable for moderates below the level of national politics. Two of the most popular politicians in the country right now are Maryland’s Larry Hogan and Massachusetts’s Charlie Baker, Republican governors of heavily Democratic states who easily won reelection Tuesday. And even in deep-red states, such as Kansas and Oklahoma, there are indications that moderation may be the political wave of the future.’ In an interview with Politico, Sen. Jeff Flake suggests that he might mount a primary challenge in 2020 in the Republican primary against Trump.
Trump’s own family values, or rather the lack of them, are also a recurring source of vexation for him. Specifically, his dalliance with Stormy Daniels, whom the president likes to refer to in his tweets as ‘horseface.’ The matter of his hush money payments reared up today in a Wall Street Journal exposé. It seems that Trump was involved every step of the way in doling out payments to her. It began, the Journal reports, when Trump met in Trump Tower with American Media executive David Pecker. Trump asked Pecker what he could do to buoy his campaign. Pecker apparently responded that he could, the Journal writes, ‘buy the silence of women if they tried to publicize sexual encounters with Mr Trump.’ Michael Cohen, who once proclaimed that he would take a bullet for Trump, has apparently been divulging the details of the operation to New York prosecutors and the Mueller investigative team. Whether or not the payments amount to a violation of federal campaign finance laws — and they likely do — they represent another embarrassing case of Trump’s serial prevarications about his sexual past.
Trump likes to claim amnesia about all of this. Another case of it popped up today when he repeatedly declared on Friday morning ‘I don’t know Matt Whitaker,’ the goon that he installed to replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general and to quash, or at least crimp, the Mueller investigation. As always with Trump, it’s safest to infer the opposite about a statement that he emits when being questioned about his conduct. It seems that Whitaker has made over a dozen visits to the Oval Office and a month ago on Fox News Trump said, ‘I know Matt Whitaker.’ Oh, yes.