Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Fire And Fury

The world needs to step back from the cacophony around the book about Donald Trump's White House. I have not read the book and do not intend to (I had a free copy). This is one man's version of what other people told him and may include malicious lies, unintended inaccuracies, and just plain mistakes. That is not why I will avoid the book.

The myths and lies that have been circulated about sitting presidents would fill more than one book. Some rumors may be true, e.g. JFK's womanizing. So what? A president is elected to perform certain functions and needs to be judged on the basis of that performance. Measuring a president's performance is most likely purely political; Ds will say it is bad and Rs will say it is good. Personal conduct is a separate issue. Who cares if a president likes cheeseburgers or is in a plural marriage as long as the government is properly run?

Some points to remember

  • The informants could be lying
  • The informants could be wrong
  • The author may have gotten some facts wrong
  • Anyone inclined to disbelieve the president is predisposed to believe these stories
  • Anyone inclined to support the president will disbelieve the stories

None of the information in Fire and Fury is evidence. The special counsel cannot indict a president with this sort of information, indeed the special counsel cannot indict a president at all. The only action that can be taken against a president is by the House of Representatives and then the Senate in a process called impeachment. They supposedly need evidence too although a Republican Congress is unlikely to impeach and remove this president under any circumstances.

None of this changes my evaluation of the president's performance. It does drive book sales and shouting matches on cable news.