"Thank You for Your Service" casts harsh light upon GOP's shifts and motives

While the nation's readers might not be desperate for another book on Trump and his time, many will still pick up Mark Leibovich's book.

NewsEditor
NewsEditor
08 July 2022 Friday 09:19
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"Thank You for Your Service" casts harsh light upon GOP's shifts and motives

While the nation's readers might not be desperate for another book on Trump and his time, many will still pick up Mark Leibovich's book.

This is why we say Thank You for Your Service: Donald Trump's Washington will be able to find a home alongside the other books that denigrate all things Trump.

People will remember Leibovich’s earlier view on the nation’s capital. aEUR" This Town: Two Parties, a Funeral, and Plenty of Valet Parking! The New York Times bestsellers list for three months was America's Gilded Capital. While critics at the time criticized the book's excessive snarkiness and gossip, the book was widely praised for its expose of Washington's incestuous power elite.

A bonus selling point is the fact that Leibovich, acerbic, focuses his fire on Trump's Republicans. This Town covered the first five years in America of the Barack Obama phenomenon. There are many Republicans in the book, but Democrats as well as their media favorite were undoubtedly its first focus.

The Thank You for Your Servitude cover features cartoon caricatures featuring Trump staffers, prominent Republicans and a well-known January 6 rioter sporting buffalo horns on the head. There are not a single Democrat on the cover.

It is possible to forget about partisanship in tribal times. Leibovich's main draw is his wicked satirical talent. Leibovich approaches his interviewees holding a skewer, a scalpel and a glint of his eye. His frequent eviscerations on major figures vary from subtle to very scabrous.

The author refers to Trump's "usual collection of pet rocks" in the book's prologue. He mentions Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon, and Corey Lewandowksi as examples. Giuliani will also be called "the master creature in the Trump swamp."

Leibovich also refers to Trump leg-humpers in the House (meaning the U.S. House of Representatives). He dismisses Trump’s most well-known spokespersons and calls them "C-listers bumped temporarily to B-list status due to their proximity to the president."

Thank You's framing image is not of the White House, but the lobby at the Trump Hotel. This hotel is the true citadel of Trump's administration just a few blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue. It is often crowded with people of various status who are waiting for a chance to meet Trump. Leibovich is often seen onstage alongside these characters. He usually does so with other reporters, such as his colleagues at The New York Times.

Leibovich can use the lobby scenes to present (and sometimes ridicule) figures from the Trump era's first seven years. He dates them from Trump Tower's 2015 historic descent down a golden elevator.

The material in Thank You is a new collection of material, much of which was derived from interviews since 2020. Leibovich shares the essence of his interview with Trump in the early part of his term. It was a brief, but very intimate, conversation in the Oval Office dining room, which Hope Hicks, Trump's aide, organized.

Also, he shares a moment from a 2016 interview aboard the Trump campaign plane. He interrupts Trump to ask him about empathy. Trump's face remains "still and distant" as if it were covered in plastic, and he says that empathy is "one of the most important qualities about Trump."

Leibovich continues the quote by recording the future president saying, "When we have terrible hurricanes, all sorts of horrible things happen, then you have to have empathy."

The author then adds, "Trump then went back to watching himself on the small-screen."

Trump is a brutal critic, even though Leibovich may be sometimes harsh in his assessments. Trump invades your habitat like an opossum who enters the attic and dies. He attracts other nuisances.

While Trump is still a great figure, the real subject of the author's article is Trump's group of enablers as well as the transformation they have brought about for their party.

Leibovich explains in detail the main events of Trump's tenure as an office bearer.

We also see some highlights of the 2020 election campaign, election night and the famous and false claim of victory. We also meet Joe Biden, who's unique path to the nomination (fourth place in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire), reaches a high level in his first debate against Trump. Biden, who is repeatedly interrupted by Trump, closes his eyes and asks, "Will your shut up, man?" Leibovich takes this rhetorical question to be a national cris-de- coeur and at most a partial explanation of Trump's defeat in 2020. He had worn people out.

The author also lists, mostly in passing the, legislative milestones of this term, such as the fight to repeal Obamacare, tax cut bill, and the showdown over Mexico's wall which closed government for five weeks in 2019. He even mentions the confirmation of three Supreme Court justices. These are just a few of the sights Leibovich takes in as he focuses on the people.

He clearly knows how important these substantive discussions are. His contribution is to bring out the personalities who made these debates lively.

Leibovich gained notoriety for his profiles in The Washington Post, then The New York Times. He was also the national political correspondent of Sunday magazine. These profiles were published in a book he wrote years ago. Thank You is a new example of his talent. He leads us through a gallery of portraits of people who have been important in Trump's remastered GOP. These profiles aren't full-length, but mini character studies or in some cases, lack-of-character studies.

Kevin McCarthy, Republican leader in the House of Representatives, appears to have given the author multiple interviews, but struggled with his questions. "Why are you asking so many questions about Trump?" He asks. "Why are you asking me about January 6th?" McCarthy, in an unguarded moment mentions the need "keep Trump within the party," a sentiment shared by some other prominent Republicans. Ronna McDaniel is the party's national chair and has taken great measures to prevent the formation of a Trump-led Third Party, which many consider an existential threat.

Leibovich often looks at Mitch McConnell's Senate counterpart McCarthy. He often watches the Senate GOP leader as he chases him down, and then he disappears down a Capitol corridor without answering repeated questions.

Others senators are more than willing and able to speak to Leibovich. They seem less concerned about Leibovich being lifted on his petard. Lindsey Graham is the South Carolinian senator who best represents the Republican shift in ethos toward Trump.

Graham called Trump a kook and a "crazy" race-baiting bigot who was "unfit to office" in 2015. He quickly changed when Trump became The Man and soon found a place under the sun.

Graham says to Leibovich, "When I spoke to the people of Pakistan, they knew I was close to the president. They also know that I will be able to report to him." "I have never experienced such influence." It's thrilling to me" aEUR", and also gratifying for the primary voters back home.

Graham answers a direct question about his conversion as a "presidential confidant" with the following: "If you know anything, it would be odd not to do that...to try being relevant."

Graham's willingness and ability to interact with the author is something that is rare among his party colleagues. It does not make Graham a popular choice with Leibovich. He uses "Stinkball", the South Carolinian boy nickname, as his chapter title in Thank You.

Leibovich writes that Graham's Senate colleagues described him to be a "kind of sitcom sidekick" with a knack for finding his way in sad-sack situations.

Other people who ran against Trump in 2016 and failed to distance themselves from him when he won the nomination are also subject to rough treatment. Leibovich shares the most interesting quotes from each candidate before recounting their amazing conversions. So Marco Rubio, a senator from Florida is seen flaunting his Trump credentials, despite the humiliation he suffered at the hands Trump.

"I couldn’t help but contemplate Rubio’s sad slide into slavish dedication to someone he once called ‘the most vulgar person ever aspired to the presidency’," Leibovich writes. He summarizes how Trump, who was previously called "Liddle Markoe” on Twitter, had transformed himself into "a fully coopted minion."

Similar glimpses are offered by Ted Cruz, Texas senator, and Florida governor. Ron DeSantis, former Rep. Mike Pompeo from Kansas, who was Trump’s second secretary-of-state, are all similar. All of them are "in on the joke," which Leibovich's interviewees use to describe some of their conversations, while others only off the record.

Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, is now well-known for his work on the January 6th investigation panel.

"All but a few members knew that Donald Trump was a joke and the election was legitimate. They could put truth serum on them. Most people get the joke. Kevin McCarthy is the one who gets it. Lindsey gets it. The problem is that the joke doesn't actually make sense anymore.

Thank You often uses the joke as a metaphor. This seems to be the explanation for double-thinking that so many people do when they should know better.

The joke is that everyone knows what they think, but act differently because it serves their purposes to do so aEUR", and protects the GOP against the threat of a Trump-led third side.

This message can be found in the descriptions Trump's purported acolytes as well as his critics. Leibovich offers generous portions of garment-rending Republicans who dare to cross The Man, such as former Speaker Paul Ryan and former Governor of New Jersey. Chris Christie and Tom Rooney, former Florida Rep. There are also sympathic interludes with Utah Sen. Mitt, who was the only GOP senator to vote to impeach Trump twice. And even with Maine Sen. Susan Collins. Leibovich has admitted that they share a love for the rural interiors of Maine.

Leibovich changes the emphasis in his title near the end of Thank You. He ridicules Republicans for being servile to Trump and raises the darker consequences of the term submission. He speaks out about the GOP being punished for following the lead of Trump's rally crowds.

How much is it? What is the price? This might seem like too much for a political party to ask, but Leibovich clearly states that he is referring to something more, something bigger, which will be happening in the near future.

He strongly suggested that the party of Abraham Lincoln, once the party of Lincoln, is now ready to believe and do whatever it takes to keep its power aEUR," whether that means utter loyalty to Donald Trump or similar embraces of any of the figures currently maneuvering to succeed him.

Leibovich quotes Liz Cheney (Republican from Wyoming), who was the leading Republican voice on January 6th panel. She said, "We have people entrusted to the preservation of the Republic but don't understand what the rule of Law is."

Leibovich says that this is the ultimate price for submission.

Leibovich expressed an unpartisan disgust at Washington's careerism and financial drive in This Town. His attitude in Thank You is more than just angry. He is more focused. It seems that a lot of it stems from the events of January 6.

He writes that as more information became available about Trump's intentions and actions, and the dangers of the country, Republicans seem to be more determined to ignore, cover up, and cover up for the former president while trying to rehabilitate him."

This is why Thank You shouldn't be mistaken as a "fun-read" aEUR, as This Town was frequently described. Leibovich's previous work was often harshly critical and dismissive. But Thank You is on a different plane of warning and foreboding. Although there are many funny moments, the book leaves a bitter taste. The message is not fun.

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