Michael Wolff did Trump a big favor

Michael Wolff did Trump a big favor, by Christopher Buskirk.

You wouldn’t know it from the media coverage, but President Trump is emerging from the furor over Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” as the winner. For all the seemingly damaging headlines coming out of Stephen K. Bannon’s disclosures to Wolff, the book represents a political victory for Trump, one that could improve his party’s prospects heading into the midterm elections.

The reasoning underlying this counterintuitive conclusion is simple: Trump’s disavowal of Bannon, his former campaign chief executive and White House strategist, and Bannon’s ensuing contrition, reminds fractious Republicans that this is Trump’s party now. Political leaders must be either feared or loved. Trump showed that he should be feared by his rivals. This demonstration will help hold together the nascent congressional consensus that formed around the Trump agenda late last year after months of grumbling and inaction. …

For Bannon, receiving a public excoriation at the hands of the president he once served must be excruciating. But for the president, it is liberating and politically beneficial. …

Accusations that Trump is being manipulated by his advisers — always wrong but nonetheless repeated so often as to take on the appearance of truth — must now cease. And so must the rhetorical conflation of Trump and Bannon. Trump must be seen as his own man and judged by his own words. Advisers, including Cabinet secretaries and their staffs, who have gossiped and leaked are on notice: Respect the man and the office or seek other employment. …

Despite the media circus surrounding the salacious but questionable allegations in Wolff’s book, most Trump supporters don’t care. Nor do they care much about the very public row between the president and Bannon. They care about what the president and his administration can do for them. They support Trump because he articulated and, increasingly, is enacting an agenda they believe will improve their lives and secure the future peace and prosperity of the country. It’s that simple.