I Pre-Ordered Michael Lewis's New Book, And So Should You!
Michael Lewis, the best-selling author of "Moneyball" and "The Big Short," is set to drop a new book about Donald Trump and his cronies' attacks on our government, "The Fifth Risk: The Undoing of Democracy."
Lewis previewed an extract from his book in Thursday's The Guardian. It ends with former New Jersey governor and wannabe Trump toadie Chris Christie's banishment from the president-elect's inner circle, simultaneously breaking his heart and sparing him from the wrath of Mueller.
I've already arranged for "The Fifth Risk" to materialize on my Kindle on October 2 when it's released. Here are some highlights to whet your appetite.
In April of 2016, noting that only a "comically under-qualified" stooge was preparing for the then-absurd possibility of a Trump administration, Christie volunteered himself for the job as a comically qualified stooge.
"It's the next best thing to being president," [Christie] told friends. "You get to plan the presidency."
Technically, the next best thing to being president is vice president or Leo McGary's job on "The West Wing." Planning the presidency is like planning a wedding. You don't even get included in the photos, and you sure as hell don't get to crash in the honeymoon suite.
But Trump didn't want a transition team. Why should he have to "plan anything" before becoming president? Trump was married three times, and he never noticed the wedding planners. That's probably how the Clintons wound up on the guest list.
When Christie reminded Trump that it was "legally required" to have a transition team (sort of like the fire sprinklers in his buildings), Trump grudgingly okayed it. But he didn't want to pay for it himself, or have it come out of the campaign war chest. Christie was ordered to raise separate funds -- but "not too much!" I wonder if Trump suggested Christie look on Craigslist for a gently used transition team (buyer entirely responsible for pick up and removal).
Christie got a call in June from Trump adviser and future felon Paul Manafort (like, really, how weird is that?) who warned him, like a character in a gangster movie, that "the kid is paranoid about you." The "kid" was then 35-year-old Jared Kushner. Christie had prosecuted and jailed Kushner's father, Charles, for tax fraud, and the Jersey Genius "sensed" that Kushner held a grudge against him.
Hilariously, Christie wound up reporting to an "executive committee" of morons and future criminals (Kushner, Ivanka Trump, her idiot brothers Don Jr. and Eric, Manafort, Steve Mnuchin and Jeff Sessions).
"I'm kind of like the church elder who double-counts the collection plate every Sunday for the pastor," Sessions explained. That's the problem with people who use a lot of folksy expressions. You never know if they're suffering from early stage dementia, or are just really annoying.
Things proceeded at a reasonable level of dysfunction through the summer, but then Trump himself actually got involved, and all hell broke loose. He'd "read in the newspaper" (Sure, Jan!) that several million dollars was being spent to pay transition staff. Trump summoned his leprous, white nationalist buddy Steve Bannon to Trump Tower to watch him spank Christie for overspending. The visual Lewis paints is astounding: Christie seated on a sofa while Trump bellowed, "You're stealing my money! You're stealing my fucking money! What the fuck is this?" And then to Bannon, "Why are you letting him steal my fucking money?" (Campaign-related funds were not actually his fucking money.)
Bannon and Christie tried their best to explain federal law to Trump, but he responded with the chilling, "Fuck the law. I don't give a fuck about the law. I want my fucking money." Just so you know, this guy is the US president now. Bannon "duck- seasoned" Trump into keeping the transition alive, arguing that "Morning Joe" would seize on a shutdown as evidence that Trump expected to lose to the girl. Because every grifter knows, you can get a malignant narcissist to do just about anything by telling him that people think he looks "weak."
Let's cut to election night 2016, when the excrement truly hit the oscillating cooling device. Pennsylvania was called for Trump and America's time of death was now officially 1:35 a.m. November 9. Christie reveals -- you guys get that he's the one telling all this to Lewis, right? (PROBABLY) -- that Mike Pence went to congratulate his wife, Karen, with a creepy kiss (the only kind really in his repertoire) and "Mother" rebuffed him.
"You got what you wanted, Mike," [Mrs. Pence] said. "Now leave me alone."
There are like a dozen different jokes I could make here, but I shall restrain myself. Wow, you'd think the future second lady would be more excited over all those abortions they're going to stop and all the gay kids they're going to electrocute into John Wayne-ness. Maybe she was just in shock. Or maybe she loathed Trump and resented her faux-pious husband for willingly mobbing himself up.
The actual transition went as absurdly as you could imagine. On a call with the president of Egypt, Trump gushed that he loved the Bangles. Relevance? Here's a hint: Check out Billboard's number one song of 1987!
Things went downhill from there, with Christie describing Pence as a clueless toadie who pushed for alleged wife-beater Andrew Pudzer as labor secretary.
But like all good things, Christie's journey in Trumpland had to come to an end. Bannon broke the news that The Kid was dropping the hammer on Christie's White House aspirations. It's always the one you most suspect!
In a shout-out to Mueller, if he's reading, Christie makes clear that he was out of there just as Michael Flynn was brought in to discuss with Ivanka what job he'd like to have in the administration. So he had nothing at all to do with any illegal stuff. You know, just in case all the Trump kids and Steve Bannon and that weenus Jared happen to go to jail.
Would that make you happy? Yeah, me too.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Seattle. However, he's more reliable for food and drink recommendations in Portland, where he spends a lot of time for theatre work.