Friday February 09, 2018
“Back when he was president, Barack Obama told me that only two people treated any interaction with him as a zero-sum game. One was Vladimir Putin, the other congressional Republicans. Both behaved as if there was no such thing as a win-win situation: Any gain for Obama was a loss for them, and any gain for them must also entail a loss for Obama. The moment that the Russian president or congressional Republicans saw he wanted something, they went to work trying to keep him from getting it even if it was something they might otherwise have approved of.”
Michael Lewis, “Has Anyone Seen the President?,” Bloomberg News
I‘ve long loved Lewis, and much of the piece is Lewis, George Plimpton-like, or maybe Joan Didion-like (“Insider Baseball”), giving the unvarnished, vaguely absurd details of the process from within the process: a White House Press briefing; a late night, cursory press conference after Trump returns from Davos, from which Lewis gets off a great line, playing off one of Trump’s idiot lines: “I try and fail to imagine anyone in Davos saying to Trump 'I want to bring my money to your country.'”
But much of the piece is about the when and where of Steve Bannon. He's still in D.C. Is he on a lone island now? He's got a Man Friday anyway. He's also got acolytes, and thoughts and ideas; he sees where the country is heading. “Anger and fear is what gets people to the polls,” he says, and maybe his fear is that the anger is now on the other side, particularly with the #MeToo movement. He says as much. But nowhere does Lewis mention the Mercers, who bankrolled Bannon's 11th-hour triumph, and who, after the release of Michael Wolff's book, have supposedly cut him off. How is he doing all this without them? How is he living in Georgetown, with his Man Friday, on his island of Regnery books, without them? Not a word.
But the lede above is killer: a good distillatiion of where we are. Putin and Republicans: together again.