My phone rings; a name flashes across the screen. Giorgio. ‘It’s done,’ he says in his husky Greek accent. With a trembling finger, I hang up. Some say the Italians do the best work, but they’re wrong. It’s the Greeks. They work quick, clean, and… well, not cheap. If you want a job done cheap, you call the Vietnamese. If you want it done right, you call a Greek.
I hop in my car and speed down the sleepy suburban streets till I get to the seedy downtown where Giorgio keeps his shop. It’s a bad neighbourhood. A man in a dirty tracksuit walks out in front of me and flashes a look that says, ‘Go ahead and f—king hit me.’ I wave him on. He has nothing to live for, but I do. At last, I get to Giorgio’s. He’s there when I open the door, smiling devilishly. ‘You were discreet?’ I whisper. He shrugs, insulted I should even ask, and hands me the bag. I open it: one Donald J. Trump Signature Collection suit, navy, size 42. $100 on Amazon, and for another $150 Giorgio tailors it to perfection. Not cheap, but if you want a job done right, you call a Greek.
I get the stuff back to my car and turn the radio to AM 680, home of Howie Carr, Boston’s very own Alan Jones. Howie’s been carrying water for Trump since New Hampshire. Me too: we met at a rally I covered for Breitbart last February. I’ve tuned in just in time for the five o’clock news break. ‘… executive order removing Steve Bannon from the National Security Council.’ No, no, no. This can’t be.
How naïve I was. Cracks emerged even before the election. Ivanka couldn’t vote for her own bloody father in the GOP primary because she forgot to switch her affiliation from ‘D’ to ‘R’. It was she and her hubby Jared Kushner who recruited Goldman Sachs alums Gary Cohn and Dina Powell to his administration. (Cohn is still a registered ‘D’.) Their clique in the White House has been dubbed ‘the New York faction’: pro-big business, anti-borders, socially progressive globalist elites. Basically everything Trump claims to hate. Now they’re engaged in a public feud with Bannon and Reince Priebus, who’ve been dubbed ‘the populist faction’. They’re the old guard… ‘old’, of course, meaning they’ve been around for more than three months.
This civil war in the White House has been quietly raging since before Trump took office, but only recently spilled over into the Trumpian rank-and-file. Following Bannon’s dismissal, ex-Breitbart reporter Lee Stranahan urged the populist masses to call the White House and threaten to withdraw support from the President if he was complicit in the New Yorkers’ Goldman-financed coup. It didn’t work. Trump’s allegedly considered giving Priebus the sack and appointing Cohn his chief of staff. Yet he’s not completely deaf to his base’s anxieties, and ordered Bannon and Kushner to sit down and resolve their differences. This, too, was a spectacular failure. ‘Here’s the reason there’s no middle ground,’ Bannon told the First Son-in-Law: ‘you’re a Democrat.’ Republicans on Twitter chose sides and started rival hashtags, #FireKushner and #FireBannon.
Outright civil war broke out in the wake of Trump’s missile strike on a Syrian airbase. The populists – basically pro-Putin, pro-Assad, and anti-interventionism – first went into denial. They started yet another hashtag, #SyriaHoax, alleging that ‘deep state neocons’ manufactured evidence fingering Assad for the chemical attack in Ghouta, in order to lure the president into yet another Middle-Eastern quagmire. Other commentators (including the UK Speccie’s Freddy Gray) suggest Princess Ivanka plopped herself on daddy’s lap and begged him to pwease, pwease, pwetty pwease bomb mean old Assad for killing all those wittle babies.
Eventually they pulled their heads from their collective arse and faced the reality that the missile strike was a conscious, deliberate act. That’s when the dream team started to crumble. Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, Milo Yiannopoulos, Mike Cernovich, and Paul Joseph Watson all lashed out at what they saw as Trump’s capitulation to the Washington war party. ‘I guess Trump wasn’t “Putin’s puppet” after all, he was just another deep state/Neo-Con puppet,’ Watson tweeted. ‘I’m officially OFF the Trump train.’
PJW’s tweet was (as usual) alarmist, headline-grapping rubbish. The Administration took great pains to emphasise that this was a one-off strike only meant to deter Assad from committing further war crimes, not a moratorium on Russo-American rapprochement. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has already said he still hopes to work with Russia and Assad to defeat Isis.
Most Trump supporters understand this, and applauded the airstrike as a moderate use of force to check a senselessly violent act. Those who don’t chalked it up as a bad judgement call. And as the Ba’athist vote in the United States is relatively small, Trump can probably survive without those like Watson and Cernovich, who consider any move against Assad a personal slight.
But while the airstrike was only a deal-breaker for conspiracy-minded freaks who hang posters of a shirtless Putin on their bedroom walls, that doesn’t mean Trump’s off the hook. He’s playing a dangerous game with his base. They simply won’t accept Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus being nudged out in favour of lefty plutocrats like Jared Kushner and Gary Cohn. And if he thinks Goldman Sachs will bankroll his re-election campaign, he might prefer to ride one of those fancy new flying pigs to an early retirement at Mar-a-Lago.
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