Opinion Columns & Blogs

More of the same for 2018?

There seems to be a common refrain at the start of each recent year. “Surely this year can’t be as bad as last year.” Then the president gets on Twitter. This year likewise starts with Steve Bannon’s tell all book written by Michael Wolff, which will be buzzing big time over the weekend.

The thing about Michael Wolff’s book is that much that is in it will be wrong. We already know, for example, that there is one anecdote wherein the president does not know who John Boehner is, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives. We know that is not true because the president played golf with and met with John Boehner repeatedly through 2015 and 2016.

As Wolff notes at the beginning of his book, he just let people talk and much of those conversations are recorded. His allowing multiple people to say multiple contradictory things about identical events is one of the big issues in the book. He wanted to portray the White House as a chaotic brood of vipers. Again, though, it was not so much that he wanted it as that is what Steve Bannon gave him.

I have a lot of friends who worked for Andrew Breitbart. I knew Andrew Breitbart myself. I cannot tell you the number of times I would get phone calls past midnight, sometimes at three in the morning, from Andrew who, in mid-sentence, would realize I was on east coast time, apologize, and hang up. He brought in Steve Bannon who has used Breitbart’s name to advance himself in the same way he then moved on to President Trump. As Donald Trump Jr. notes, Bannon is not so much a strategist as he is an opportunist. He just so happens to be an opportunist with stories to tell.

The president is aiding those stories with his tweets. Now I know a lot of President Trump’s die hard supporters will cheer on his tweets regardless of what he tweets. But even among President Trump’s general supporters there is a growing weariness about his tweeting. I hear this more and more among those who chastised me for not supporting him. They still love him, but wish he would “stop with the Twitters,” as one of his supporters said to me at church recently.

For the past year, President Trump has managed to step all over his message and allow the media room for distraction by his tweets. Remember that even his media critics were willing to credit his presidential tone in his State of the Union address last year and 48 hours later the president’s twitter feed gave the media an excuse to move on. His tweeting about the Palestinians, Pakistanis and North Koreans have allowed the media to ignore the underlying policy issues and instead focus on the president’s “mean tweets.”

Consistently, the media has taken a tone that the president is out of his depth, in over his head, not very bright, and prone to irrational, emotional outbursts. Steve Bannon’s comments play into this. According to Bannon and others, even those around the president think he is an idiot and prone to impulsive, uncontrollable outbursts. His tweets reinforce that.

We have three more years (if not seven) of this president barring death, resignation, or removal, all of which are slim odds. What we also have is a highly-motivated Democratic base of voters. The president’s inability to focus and his constant stream of tweets do nothing to help him win back voters. Perhaps he should turn off his phone as his New Year’s resolution.

Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.