The rest of you are talking and thinking nonstop about you-know-who, but I’ve been woolgathering on Karen Spranger today.
Chances are you don’t know her, although I know we have some journalists reading today, and if you’ve ever covered a small-city council and one of those people inevitably described as “a local gadfly” shows up, you know her. Spranger once attended a Warren city council meeting in a suit made of aluminum foil, to make her point that something – smart meters or chemtrails or one of those boogiemen – was poisoning local residents. She filed multiple petitions to recall a politician she disliked. And then she threw her hat in the ring as a candidate for Macomb County clerk, just north of where I live, and in one of those weird planetary alignments that happen from time to time in politics, last November she won.
It became evident almost immediately that she was unqualified and unprepared for the job. The office had run efficiently for years under a safe incumbent, who waited until the last minute to retire and tried to pass the position off to a hand-picked successor, but a party squabble broke out that allowed Spranger to surf into office on the Trumpian wave. And from there, it hasn’t gone well.
The biggest problem was Spranger herself, who appears to have mental-health issues. Her address of record is a blighted wreck that only a family of raccoons would find hospitable. She must live somewhere, but no one knows exactly where, and she won’t say. She’s never held a job like this before, and her actual employment record is sketchy – she was on public assistance before she started earning $109,000 a year as county clerk.
Needless to say, the existing staff hasn’t taken well to her. Key deputies were fired almost immediately, and the place has sunk into dysfunction, with filing backlogs, staff shortages and, of course, lawsuits.
Does this sound familiar? Spranger is Donald Trump, writ small. (This Free Press story from last summer outlines it all, with the bothsidesiest bothsides headline ever.)
It’s been fashionable for decades now to run for office on the claim that one is not a career politician, but if Trump and Spranger are what non-career politicians do? Bring on the people who know what they’re doing. Please.
Which brings us to the Michael Wolff book. Not a fan of Wolff, but not too proud to say this one landed like a daisy-cutter, and probably should have. The Real Journalists ™ over at Axios had this to say:
There are definitely parts of Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” that are wrong, sloppy, or betray off-the-record confidence. But there are two things he gets absolutely right, even in the eyes of White House officials who think some of the book’s scenes are fiction: his spot-on portrait of Trump as an emotionally erratic president, and the low opinion of him among some of those serving him.
There follows a long list of things Wolff got right, and it’s all the important stuff. So. Make of that what you will. Meanwhile, Wolff’s column yesterday in his employer’s publication, the Hollywood Reporter, winds up like this:
Donald Trump’s small staff of factotums, advisors and family began, on Jan. 20, 2017, an experience that none of them, by any right or logic, thought they would — or, in many cases, should — have, being part of a Trump presidency. Hoping for the best, with their personal futures as well as the country’s future depending on it, my indelible impression of talking to them and observing them through much of the first year of his presidency, is that they all — 100 percent — came to believe he was incapable of functioning in his job.
At Mar-a-Lago, just before the new year, a heavily made-up Trump failed to recognize a succession of old friends.
Terrific. This is the fix we’re in. I see someone yesterday posted James Fallows’ comment on all this, something I’m in full agreement with. Everybody knows. And no one in a position of power is doing anything.
Have a great weekend, all. And brace yourselves for the rest of 2018.