Florida of the Day: A Florida Man worth listening to — Rick Wilson, author of “Everything Trump Touches Dies” and “Running Against the Devil”

Rick Wilson

Whenever a news program needs someone with insider knowledge of the Republican Party, who can explain things clearly and with humor, and who isn’t under the thrall of Donald Trump, they go to Tallahassee-based Rick Wilson. He’s a (former?) political strategist for the Republicans, media consultant, and author of the hilariously frightening book Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever, as well as one I’m looking forward to: Running Against the Devil: A Plot to Save America from Trump–and Democrats from Themselves, which comes out in January.

Here are some snippets of Rick in action:

Interview on Australian TV: Republican strategist Rick Wilson on why Donald Trump sacked John Bolton

“Donald Trump fired John Bolton for being insufficiently pro-Taliban…he got fired over disagreeing with Trump about bringing the Taliban to the U.S., to Camp David, on the week of 9/11.”

Trump Would Rather You Think He’s A Traitor Than Not Super Rich

I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.

Dark politics in the age of Trump

John Zipperer, VP of Media and Editorial at the Commonwealth Club, and host: We’ve heard from other “Never Trumpers” who have been here — David Frum, Charlie Sykes — they thought that they were the majority in the party, and they came to realize they were a thin veneer on the party. This populist feeling, and this disgruntlement, and the lack of attachment to these principles that have been argued out in the Federalist Society and all these other conservative organizations — it meant nothing to them.

Rick Wilson: That’s been part of the shock and awe of Trumpism for people who have a room-temperature or greater IQ in the Republican Party.

This idea that the people who go to a Trump rally want to talk about Hayek and want to talk about free markets — they don’t give a damn about that stuff. They have a bundle of anxieties and resentments that’s being fed every day by FOX, they have this enormous anger with the educated part of the party. They look at it as something that’s held them back, or hurt them, or belittles them in some way.

That old model of the GOP — the tripod — where you had social conservatives, security/foreign policy conservatives, and economic/individual liberty conservatives; that balance used to keep any particular faction from becoming too powerful. The guys like me, in the economic and foreign policy side would keep a check on the social conservatives. And the social conservatives would keep a check on the economic conservatives to not be too much of a bunch of heartless bastards.

But that’s all gone now. There is only one pillar of the Republican Party today, and that’s Donald Trump. The party that produced Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush, and Jack Kemp, and John McCain, and a whole host of other people who had a view of the world that was nuanced and spanned an entire area of conservative thought in different degrees and flavors: it’s all gone. It’s been replaced by ”Do you love the Dear Leader enough?”

The Everything Trump Touches Dies interview with Don Lemon on CNN

Here’s an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon about his book, Everything Trump Touches Dies. I have the audiobook, read by Wilson himself, and it’s fantastic.

Important fact that Wilson brings up in this interview: “White Houses tend not to fire people willy-nilly. The Trump White House has fired people at a rate of that exceeds the previous five White Houses combined in the first year and a half.”

I also love his description of Trump as “authoritarian-curious”: “ One of the biggest problems I have with Trump as a conservative is that he’s authoritarian-curious. He is a guy who does not believe in the sort of better angels of our nature. He likes the tough guy, the strongman, the guy with the swagger stick in the fancy uniform, rather than the people who built up a democratic system somewhere in the world or fought against oppression. He likes the Putins of the world, and the Kims of the world, and the Xis and the Dutertes of the world, rather than people who are fighting for freedom.”

The Everything Trump Touches Dies book tour at Politics and Prose bookstore, Washington DC

Politics and Prose is an independent bookstore — an increasingly rare thing these days — that was founded in 1984 and has since grown to become part and parcel of Washington, D.C. culture. If you’re ever in the capital and are looking for a non-cliché place to visit, you might want to add a visit to Politics and Prose to your itinerary.

In addition to selling books, Politics and Prose organize a number of speaking events featuring great guests. Some of these include General Stanley McChrystal, Senator Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Francis Fukuyama, Bob Woodward, Ralph Nader, James Clapper, John Scalzi, Daniel Pink, and Bill Clinton. They’ve recorded many of these talks on video, and you can find them on their YouTube channel.

This video features Wilson’s speaking appearance at Politics and Prose to promote Everything Trump Touches Dies, and it’s classic Wilson. Be sure to catch a quite unexpected reference that he makes to the Wu-Tang Clan at the 21:20 mark.

Get the book

Here’s the Amazon link for the upcoming book, due out in January 2020.

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