By Michael Jay Tucker
This is the story of a book, a pair of battling fools, and how we seem to have arrived at yet another Constitutional Crisis.
And it is all the more complicated because it started off as a comedy …only farce turned to tragedy in a matter of hours.
The comedy part: as you know, it all started when Michael Wolff wrote a new tell-all book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. It was based on some 200 interviews with White House insiders, including Steve Bannon, who (apparently) said that Trump was a bit of a buffoon and his son, Don Jr., had committed something pretty much like treason when he sought aid from Russian contacts during the election.
Trump was blindsided (it seems) by the story and went, as they say, ape-shit. He attracted his former chief advisor in Twitter and other social media.
As I say, comedy. Here we have two of the most reprehensible figures on the American political stage, and former friends, whacking each other in print as forcefully as possible:
Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
And when the Orange One then slapped Bannon with a cease and desist order, claiming that Breitbart’s boy had violated a non-disclosure agreement, it was all the better. The perfect punch line to a perfect joke…
Okay, but the giggling came to an end (at least in my corner of the world) as of early yesterday morning. Trump has now gone to the logical, inevitable, and extremely dangerous next step. To wit, he is trying to stop publication of Wolff’s book.
According to an article in The Washington Post by Josh Dawsey and Ashley, Trump lawyer seeks to block insider book on White House, “Beverly Hills-based attorney Charles J. Harder [has] demanded the publisher, Henry Holt and Co., ‘immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the book” or excerpts and summaries of its contents. The lawyers also seek a full copy of the book as part of their investigation.’”
Which means the joke just stopped being funny.
No, Trump probably won’t win this battle. Bannon, Michael Wolff, and Henry Holt & Co. will doubtlessly fight back. They, too, have lawyers and deep pockets. And, even if they didn’t, people like the ACLU and various press organizations would be eager to rush to their aid.
But, even so…
It is one thing for Bannon and Trump to trade insults. It is quite another for the President of these United States to use the power of his office to try to suppress a book for no other reason than that he finds it insulting. It is, in fact, nothing less than an attack on the Freedom of the Press, the Freedom of Expression, and the Constitution as a whole.
We are, in other words, no longer in the realm of Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Rather, we have come, once more (as we have so often with this Administration), to a moment of genuinely existential crisis…once more, we find ourselves in the midst of a life or death struggle…
With, on one side, thugs in three-piece suits, armed with law degrees and intimidating letters, all too eager to silence criticism and dissent.
And on the other: You, and your freedoms.
Let us, therefore, gird ourselves for battle. Not as characters from something willfully ridiculous. Not as the jokes that Trump and Bannon might be.
But, rather, as champions.
Of freedom, and liberty, and…all, absolutely everything…
We hold dear.