Fire and Fury is a book written by “journalist” Michael Wolff and is a partially fictional account of the events that occurred in the first few months of the Donald Trump administration. This is the tenth of a series of write-ups of notes that I have taken while reading the book.
CPAC was a big deal because the conference had largely looked down on Trump and Bannon in the past. Now Team Trump was set to dominate and no one wanted to miss it. Bannon famously sat with Reince Priebus for an on-stage interview, although this was more or less an olive branch to form an alliance against Kushner.
CPAC itself was welcoming of Trump largely because it had been sidelined by the cumulative effects of the rise of the Tea Party and right-wing media like Fox News. Everyone on Trump’s team, Conway, Bannon, Gorka and even DeVos, held court in some way. This also pulled in tangential figures like Milo Yiannopoulos and Richard Spencer. Spencer himself, however, was kicked out almost immediately based on his white supremacist views. Yiannopoulos was disinvited largely because a video was uncovered where he seemed to promote pedophilia. Nevertheless, the conservatives CPAC had initially represented were replaced by Trump-brand outliers made mainstream.
For Bannon, this was a victory lap; a kind of validation of his efforts. He tried to promote a just-another-guy image, but it was also clear he was just soaking in all the attention and accolades. In his interview on stage, he used the opportunity to dramatically promote his vision while Priebus more or less floundered to deliver a concept of unity. Also, Bannon used the opportunity to take small digs at Kushner without actually mentioning his name.
After Bannon and Priebus, Trump came out like a rock star and ad-libbed the whole speech. Everyone on his team was worried about whether or not he would lose the crowd, but somehow his rambling hit all the right points and they stayed with him enthusiastically.
Outside CPAC, Richard Spencer was trying to set himself up as a Trumpism intellectual. He was trying to claim some kind of kinship and intellectual through line from Trump to himself. What Spencer was keying into was the racial ambivalence that Trump and Bannon were giving off at that point in time. Spencer believed they were aligned with him on his racists views, even if they weren’t openly broadcasting it yet.
I remember seeing clips from CPAC and reading a transcript of Wayne LaPierre’s NRA speech. William F. Buckley spent a considerable amount of time pushing the crazies and racists out of the GOP, but it looks like he had as much success as stopping an ocean wave. The conservatives that comprise the GOP have too much of a taste for it.