When the historians finally weigh in on the Trump presidency (and it’s never too early to start), they will have a troubling question to answer. It’s not why many good Americans, angered and disgusted by the dysfunction of Washington, were misled by Trump’s mendacious rhetoric. The real question is why powerful people who (like Janning) knew better—and who now know exactly what kind of man Trump is—continue to support him and make his presidency possible. These are the same men who have in the past publicly called Trump a racist, a xenophobe, a jackass, a man of sickening sexual crudeness, and unfit to serve as commander in chief. Trump in his characteristic way has called them things you wouldn’t say about your worst enemy.
In “The Enablers,” Sarah Ellison takes on six of these men—Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Mike Pence, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Reince Priebus—all of whom have the political acumen, knowledge of government, and sufficient grip on reality to know firsthand that our president is not just in over his head but perhaps out of his mind. It would be one thing if they were surrounding him in order to stop him. But in fact they surround him in order to enable him for their own various ends. The myriad acts of malignant legislation committed while the nation is distracted by the president’s woes are evidence of their own agendas.