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Will ‘Fire and Fury’ split the Republican Party?

How did Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury” gain traction and did it affect the Republican Party? What are the chances of an Oprah Winfrey presidential run? Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR talk to Judy Woodruff about the latest political news.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And now to our regular Politics Monday duo to discuss that speculation about Oprah in 2020 and the “Fire and Fury” book.

    With me, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR.

    Politics Monday. Welcome to both of you.

    And I’m going to ask you about the Oprah speculation.

    But, Tam, let’s first talk about the book that led the program, “Fire and Fury,” Michael Wolff getting an enraged, outraged reaction from the White House.

    What difference is this book making? What are we really learning from it?

  • Tamara Keith:

    In part, this book has gained as much traction as it has because the ground was plowed ahead of it by news reporting by lots of journalists who cover this White House, who have reported various anecdotes, often without, you know, direct quotes, but have reported many of these same ideas leading up to this point.

    If this book had just come out of nowhere, it may not have had so much traction. The other reason it’s getting traction and people are talking about it is because of the president of the United States, because President Trump is talking about it, because, thanks to this book, you get a FOX News segment where they’re talking about the president’s fitness for office, and then you get President Trump saying he’s a stable genius.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Amy, how does it — go ahead. How does it fit into what we know?

  • Amy Walter:

    Well, yes.

    No, it’s really interesting, because this is the sort of thing you would say, well, what are the consequences of this? The number one thing you are going to look for, has it split the Republican Party? Has it encouraged any Republicans to stand up and say, you know what, now that I read this book, or now that I hear about this, I’m going to put my hand up and say it’s time for us to split from the president?

    Now, obviously, not only has that not happened, but now you’re seeing some of the president’s critics even coming on to television and defending him, Republicans like Lindsey Graham, Senator Graham from South Carolina, on the talk shows this weekend talking about the work that he’s doing with the president. He’s been a big critic.

    Bob Corker, who’s been another long-term critic, on the plane with the president today, on Air  Force One, headed to Tennessee. So, in the short term, you’re not seeing that split within the party. In fact, the only split you’re seeing is between Steve Bannon and the president.

  • Judy Woodruff:

     But as we heard and we have been reading everywhere, Tam, there are some pretty disturbing pieces of commentary in here about the president.

    And he said — I mean, when he talked to me, 200 interviews. He lived in the White House, practically, for a year. Does it just go away into the ether and have no consequence at all?

  • Tamara Keith:

    I think that one of the things that the president’s allies have said that’s based in a lot of reality is that the president’s fitness, President Trump’s temperament was litigated significantly during the campaign.

    Hillary Clinton talked about, you know, a man you can bait with a tweet, do you want him to have his finger on the button? This was a matter of much debate in the presidential campaign. And enough voters in the right states pulled the lever for this — for President Trump, knowing basically not much more than — not much less than this book tells us.

  • Amy Walter:

    I also think this is sort of a preview of what’s to come in a post-Trump world.

    And at some point, Donald Trump is not in the White House, and there’s going to be debate over what is the Republican Party without the man known as Donald Trump? Is there still Trumpism. That’s where you see Bannon in this book sort of taking the baton, right? I’m the person that is going to lead the party to the next place. I’m the one who is the person with the ideas about populism and nationalism. I captured this.

    And I think you’re going to see then, as we move beyond, you know, in these next four, eight, whatever many years, what is the Republican Party?

    We’re only a year into this presidency, and we’re already having debates about what Trumpism looks like. But that just goes to show the pace at which we’re in with this president that every day feels like a month or two years.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, speaking of the future and future elections, Oprah Winfrey, Tam, there’s all this speculation. There’s been a little bit of talk.

  • Tamara Keith:

    There’s been a little.

  • Judy Woodruff:

     But this has burst out into the open after her speech last night

  • Tamara Keith:

    There’s been a little creeping Oprah talk.

  • Judy Woodruff:

     It’s everywhere.

  • Tamara Keith:

     But now it’s all out in the open.

    I saw that speech last night, and I thought, she’s running.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Tamara Keith:

    And then I thought, this is a joke that I could make on Twitter that 5,000 other people are making at the same time. I’m not going to make it.

    But the fact that people are talking seriously about an Oprah candidacy is a signal of where we’re coming from, and that people were joking about a Donald Trump candidacy, and he’s president of the United States.

    And in some ways, a freshman senator from Illinois made it possible for there to be someone who didn’t have a traditional resume that could run for president and win.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And the Donald Trump presidency in a way opens the door, as Tam is saying, Amy, to a possible Oprah.

  • Amy Walter:

    Right, or anybody else who fits…

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Tamara Keith:

    The Rock or Mark Cuban.

  • Amy Walter:

    The Rock was also in the audience last night. Saw him presenting an award.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The Rock.

  • Amy Walter:

    The Rock, Dwayne…

  • Tamara Keith:

    Johnson?

  • Amy Walter:

    Johnson. Thank you. Very good.

    The other thing, though, about the speech that is interesting, for all the talk about is this was a very political speech, Donald Trump’s name wasn’t mentioned in that speech in all.

    In fact, this was really all about the MeToo movement. And really what she was giving voice to is something we have seen throughout the course of the this year, which is the growing sort of role that women are playing in society writ large.

    We started 2017 with the women’s march. We moved into talk about women getting more involved in politics, more women running than ever. And, of course, then we have the MeToo movement and Harvey Weinstein.

    And she sort of put all those things together in a way that was a little more aspirational and inspirational than it was purely political and really being against something. This was much more about for something.

  • Tamara Keith:

    And it had the contours of a stump speech. I think that is what stands out, is that the way it was crafted is the way so many political speeches are crafted.

  • Judy Woodruff:

     And just a little bit of time left, but it makes one think that maybe this MeToo movement is here to stay, because I did an interview last week with somebody else whose name is connected to 2020, Tam and Amy, Joe Biden, and that was part of the conversation.

    He was saying, men have to step up. We talked also about his age. He said, yes, it’s a factor. I don’t know what I’m going to do.

    But it’s a movement that is not going away.

  • Tamara Keith:

    And, as Amy said, if you look at the number of women who are planning to run for office in 2018, it’s off the charts, though, notably, most of them are Democrats.

  • Amy Walter:

     Yes.

    And Joe Biden and Oprah Winfrey are also interesting, in that they both fill something that Democrats didn’t have in 2016. Oprah Winfrey as the engaging — and she was the superstar, right? Democrats didn’t have one of those.

    And Joe Biden, the person who could talk to the white working-class Americans. They didn’t have that. So they both are filling that void was in 2016. But we don’t know what the void is going to be in 2020. Right?

    So this movement and this message, and it’s also clear, Judy, if you look at the data and the polling, it definitely resonates much more with the Democratic base than it does with the Republican base, this issue.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    2020 is just five minutes away.

  • Amy Walter:

    I know. We are ready to go.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Tamara Keith:

    We’re already at 2018. Why not skip ahead?

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Tamara Keith, Amy Walter, Politics Monday. Thank you both.

  • Amy Walter:

    You’re welcome.

  • Tamara Keith:

    You’re welcome.

     

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