erik lundegaard

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Tuesday September 11, 2018

His Own Asshole

I‘ve said if often: Trump supporters think Donald Trump is their asshole—the guy who will tear down the opposition—but he’s not. He's his own asshole. It's always been about him; the rest of us are merely flunkies. Bob Woodward's book, “Fear,” which I began last night, is confirmation. As if we needed it.

Here's an excerpt. It's not anything that anyone's written about really. It's not “orange jumpsuit” or “fucking moron” or any of that. It's something no one's denied. 

Fear by Bob WoodwardIt takes place the weekend after the Access Hollywood story broke in early October 2016, when all of the Donald's political cover began to run from him. Everybody. There was talk of dropping him fromthe ticket and running Pence with Condoleezza Rice as his running mate. Pence/Rice 2016. 

There was also internal debate about what to how to respond to the tape. Most wanted an apology tour. Kellyanne Conway arranged for ABC News to do an interview. But Trump, buoyed by Steve Bannon—who is an obvious source for Woodward—went on the attack. He talked “locker room talk” and “Bill Clinton actually did worse things.” He trotted all that out in the first debate. But before then, there were the Sunday morning news shows. Who would go on to defend Trump? Nobody. Priebus, Christie, and Conway had all been scheduled; they all canceled. Only one guy agreed to do it: Rudy Giuliani. And not just one news show—he went on all five, completing, Woodward writes, “what is called a full Ginsburg—a term in honor of William H. Ginsburg, the attorney for Monica Lewinsky, who appeared on all five network Sunday programs on February 1, 1998.” 

I'm reading this, and some part of me is thinking, “Well, no wonder Giuliani is where he currently is. Trump is rewarding his loyalty.”

Not even:

Giuliani was exhausted, practically bled out, but he had proved his devotion and friendship. He had pulled out every stop, leaning frequently and heavily on his Catholicism: “You confess your sins and you make a firm resolution not to commit that sin again. And then, the priest gives you absolution and then, hopefully you‘re a changed person. I mean, we believe the people in this country can change.”

Giuliani, seeming punch-drunk, made it to the plane for the departure to the St. Louis debate. He took a seat next to Trump, who was at his table in his reading glasses. He peered over at the former mayor.

“Rudy, you’re a baby!” Trump said loudly. “I‘ve never seen a worse defense of me in my life. They took your diaper off right there. You’re like a little baby that needed to be changed. When are you going to be a man?” Trump turned to the others, particularly Bannon. “Why did you put him on? He can't defend me. I need somebody to defend me. Where are my people?”

“What are you talking about?” Bannon asked. “This guy's the only guy that went on.”

“I don't want to hear it,” Trump replied. “It was a mistake. He shouldn't have gone on. He's weak. You‘re weak, Rudy. You’ve lost it.”

To be continued.  

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Posted at 08:19 AM on Sep 11, 2018 in category Books   |   Permalink  
Monday September 10, 2018

Stingy for Bernie

David Denby's recent New Yorker piece, “A Great Writer at the 1968 Democratic Disaster,” about how Norman Mailer's “Miami and the Siege of Chicago” contains lessons for our time, sent me back to the book to read it, or skim it, again. Miami and the Siege of ChicagoIt's great writing. Unbelievably so. Norman, with just his memory, notes and a typewriter, created this document, which is complex, existential, political; then went on talk shows to talk aobut it. People listened. Enough people. That was the world we lived in back then.

Of course, that world still elected Richard Nixon president, and then again in a landslide four years later. 

One thing Denby doesn't call out? Mailer's description of the “Clean for Gene” students who backed McCarthy for the Democratic ticket in 1968 over more establishment candidates. Who does it remind you of?

No, like all crusaders, their stinginess could be found in a ferocious lack of tolerance or liaison to their left or right—the search for Grail seems invariably to lead in a straight line. 

It's the Bernie Bros. And they‘re still out there, Daniel. I’d underlined the sentence back in the '90s when I first read it. Not sure why. But it packs a whallop in 2018.

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Posted at 08:15 AM on Sep 10, 2018 in category Books   |   Permalink  
Friday September 07, 2018

The Enemy Within

“The right will always invoke an enemy within. They will insist on a distinction between real Americans and those who say they are but aren‘t. This latter group is your basic nativist amalgam of people of the wrong color, recent immigration, or incorrect religious persuasion. At the beginning of the cold war, ”fellow travelers“ and ”pinkos“ were added to the list. (Communists being historically beyond the pale.) Mr. Nixon contributed ”effete intellectuals“; Mr. Reagan’s secretary of the interior, James Watt, threw ”cripples“ into the pot with Jews and blacks, and this president [H.W. Bush] and his men have consigned to perdition single parents, gays and lesbians, and a ”cultural elite,“ by which they mean not only the college-educated, cosmopolitan (Jewish and their fellow-traveling) residents of both coasts who write or work in publishing, films, or television but really any person in any region of the country who is articulate enough to compose a sentence telling them what a disgrace they are.”

— E.L. Doctorow, “The Character of Presidents,” 1992

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Posted at 09:50 AM on Sep 07, 2018 in category Books   |   Permalink  
Thursday August 23, 2018

Petty Grievance

Reading Marty Appel's new book, “Casey Stengel: Baseball's Greatest Character” and it's not the greatest. Appel's “Pinstripe Empire” is a must-read for baseball fans and Yankees haters (and their fans), but this one feels cobbled-together. It feels like Appel did a little research, stuck in liberal use of Casey's quotes, and sent to the publisher, who sent it on to us without a glance. 

I keep running into “probably,” a red flag for any editor. “Charlie was probably named after...” “Casey and his dad probably saw more than that one game at...” “Casey probably had his tobacco card.” Know or don't know; there is no “probably.” 

I really rolled my eyes at this graf:

Jennie Jordan, Casey's mom, was born in 1861, when Abraham Lincoln became president and the Civil War broke out.

It's like a kid trying to stretch out a book report.

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Posted at 11:35 AM on Aug 23, 2018 in category Books   |   Permalink  
Saturday August 11, 2018

Literary Quote of the Day

“Talking to Francis gave me the sensation of settling slowly to the bottom of the ocean. He was the most boring child I ever met.”

— Scout talking about her cousin in “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. What a great, original metaphor. It's so good I'm shocked it's not more widespread.

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Posted at 12:30 PM on Aug 11, 2018 in category Books   |   Permalink  
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