For cowards, cowardice obeys the inverse square law. The further away a punk is from a source of danger the less cowardly and braver they get. Former members of the Trump regime are no exception.
Writing from a distance of a distant time about a now neutered ex-president, former Trump punk Stephanie Grisham has suddenly found her voice. “I should have spoken up more,” Grisham avers in her new book, “I’ll Take Your Questions Now.” Grisham, as you may recall, was the Trump press secretary who never once held a televised briefing in front of reporters. She was the Grisham sandwich, as it were, between two slices of the perfectly horrible Sarah Sanders and the perfectly awful Kayleigh McEnany.
In her book she claims (probably accurately) that Trump constantly berated her and made absurd requests of her. For example, Trump demanded that she appear before the press corps and reenact the phone call Trump made with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, something she managed to weasel out of. On another occasion Trump called on her to defend the size of his penis, a thing Grisham had no personal knowledge of.
Grisham claims she avoided the podium in part because, “I knew that sooner or later the president would want me to tell the public something that was not true or that would make me sound like a lunatic.” Apparently she preferred to tell her lies and sound like a lunatic on Fox News instead, where she appeared with nauseating frequency.
Grisham explores Trump’s undisguised love of dictators. She says in her book that Trump went out of his way to please the murderer Vladimir Putin in particular, whose icy reception of Trump made him want to impress Putin all the more.
Trump, who’s never had an unspoken thought, had to comment on Grisham’s book, of course. “Stephanie didn’t have what it takes and that was obvious from the beginning,” Trump said in a statement on Tuesday. (Of course it leaves unanswered the question that if Trump knew she didn’t have what it takes to be press secretary from the very beginning, why did he give her the job in the first place?)
There are at least two ways former members of the Trump administration can attempt to rehabilitate their reputations. One way is to write a partly strident self-justification and Trump hagiography. Sean Spicer tried that and his book sales are justly dreadful. Another way is to write a book representing yourself as a secretly anti-Trump hero. That’s what Grisham did, following in the footsteps of John Bolton. That doesn’t work either, but at least the book is just about guaranteed to sell fairly well and make her a bit of money.
Like so many of the past and coming parade of Trump tell-all confessors, Grisham employs the Nuremberg excuse that she was just following orders and she really wasn’t what she looked like. It’s an old trick that sometimes works. Tell the public the horrible things you did in a reasonable tone of voice full of mea culpas and apologias and the public just might forgive you. It worked, to some extent, for Albert Speer, who to this day is remembered more as a dreamy artist and architect and less as the brutal arms minister that he really was.
Stephanie Graham’s book tells us what we already know, that Trump is a sexist bigot, a perfect asshole with a horrific temper and a vulgar, ignorant mouth. If you want to read it I would advise you check it out of the library or listen to it if it appears on YouTube as a talking book. It’s too late to deny her any money. Graham’s publisher, Harper Collins, gave her a sweetheart deal and a hefty advance, of course. So we can always punish them by ensuring that her book sales are sluggish. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.