Michael Wolff and the end of denial
Last week alone, in the midst of the swirl around Wolff's book, Trump opened nearly all of our offshore waters to drilling even as the Department of Housing and Urban Development suspended an Obama-era rule requiring communities to address residential segregation. And the Justice Department, undercutting conservative states' rights rhetoric, renewed enforcement of federal marijuana laws despite state legalization statutes.
In response to what is little more than a traditional right-wing agenda, there has been a marked erosion of loyalty to Trump among voters who thought they were casting ballots for a populist and are getting ideological and plutocratic policies instead. A Pew survey last month found Trump losing ground particularly among whites without college degrees and white evangelicals. Trump cannot afford further deterioration of his standing among Americans whose sympathy he thought he could count on.
On the other hand, the more Trump proves his populism to be phony and behaves like a traditional Republican, the more the congressional GOP will want to prop him up. And Trump's break with Steve Bannon, the nemesis of the Capitol Hill crowd, will only bring the president and the elected conservative establishment closer.
What might be called the Wolff Effect will thus be paradoxical. It could strengthen the bonds between Republican politicians and Trump at the very moment when everyone else is coming to terms with how dangerous it is to have a president who is so uninformed and unstable. In the meantime, more traditional journalists will carry on their painstaking work, piling up evidence that Trump did all he could to block a legal accounting for the methods that helped get him to the White House in the first place.
We should have gotten here sooner. But far better late than never.
E.J. Dionne's email address is email@example.com. Twitter: @EJDionne.
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