By Robert Reich
What worries me most about Trump’s dinner last week at Mar-a-Lago with Nick Fuentes, the outspoken antisemite and racist who is one of America’s most prominent young white supremacists, and Kanye West, whose recent antisemitic outbursts have rocked the entertainment world, isn’t just that a former (and possibly future) president would dine with such avowed bigots.
I don’t think Trump is seeking to legitimate antisemitism or racism. The only “ism” Trump believes in is narcissism. Fuentes and West apparently showered him with enough compliments to get an invitation from him.
What worries me is how they got that invitation.
A former president, or anyone even vaguely thinking about running for president, has a staff that’s supposed to warn against dining with people who much of the public view as reprehensible.
That Trump doesn’t have anyone around him to sound that alarm – or at least anyone he’ll listen to – is a serious problem. It’s not just a problem for his own ambitions and legacy; it’s a problem for the nation.
Let me explain.
During the last months of his presidency, the more level-headed of Trump’s staff were known in the White House as “team normal,” by contrast with “team crazy” that presumably helped him plan and execute his attempted coup.
But the only way Fuentes and West would have got an invite to Mar-a-Lago is if the normals had all left. I’m reasonably sure they’re gone. Why would any of them stick around? Why would we expect Trump to keep them around?
So there’s only one explanation for the dinner. Trump has surrounded himself with crazies.
Which makes me think that his run for the presidency this time will be utterly out of control — beyond the hate-filled, bullying, divisive, traitorous, vindictive, and deceitful Trump we have already endured.
It could be so shameful, so despicable, so reprehensible that it will cause all but his most loyal followers to desert him.
Those totally loyal followers probably constitute no more than 30 percent of the American public.
Which would be fine if our democracy holds, as it did in the midterms. DeSantis or whomever else Republicans put up would be nominated. Biden or whomever the Democrats nominate would probably be victorious.
But what happens if that 30 percent act crazy, too? What if they believe the overt racism, antisemitism, and Q’anon conspiracy rubbish that a Trump without guardrails tries to sell them?
What if Special Prosecutor Jack Smith chooses to indict Trump, and as a result, Trump gets some of his crazies to take up arms — resulting in an even bigger and more dangerous version of January 6, thundering across America before the 2024 election?
Trump won’t care. He no longer has any illusions about winning the presidency legitimately. In fact, he’ll welcome the chaos, just as he did January 6.
That’s my real worry: A presidential candidate who would welcome Nick Fuentes and Kanye West to dinner at his home is a candidate without sound advice, a candidate who has no one around him to tell him no, or he’s a candidate who doesn’t give a damn.
Whatever the reason, that presidential candidate is untethered. He is surrounded by people as crazy as he is. Which means he’s even more dangerous.