These days, the last thing you want is to be known as a Friend of Trump. He’s doing great — he’s president, for heaven’s sake. His kids are getting jobs, his hotels are getting promoted 24/7. He goes golfing more than your average Palm Beach retiree. Meanwhile, the people he hangs around with are watching their reputations crumble into smithereens.
This has an impact on congressional politics. If you’re a swing vote in the House or the Senate, the idea of getting a hug in the Oval Office might seem more like a threat than an opportunity. Let’s consider some of the FOTs who’ve already been undone:
Devin Nunes: He is now famous as the guy who was sneaking around the White House lawn in the middle of the night. He says it was still daylight, which will have no bearing whatsoever on the legend. There’s a lot of stuff on his résumé — eight-term congressman, father of three, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. But wherever he goes for the rest of his life, people are going to say, “Oh yeah, he was the one sneaking around the White House lawn in the middle of the night.” It’ll be the lead in his obituary.
Paul Ryan: Until recently, Ryan was regarded as the Republican idea man, whose riff on cutting entitlements made conservative intellectuals swoon. When Trump came along Ryan was leery at first, then thrilled with his party’s total control of the government. Finally he could take the knife to Medicaid! He’ll go down in history as the first big congressional power to get rolled over by the Trump bus. Maybe with a footnote about his passion for pulling catfish out of the water with his bare hands.
Chris Christie: Chris “Still the Governor” Christie was at the White House this week in his new role as head of a commission on drug addiction. How could anything bad happen? Well, just as Christie was being photographed grasping the president’s hand, two of his former associates were sentenced to jail for their roles in the famous bridge-jamming episode. Not Trump’s fault, but he did seem to mess with Christie’s karma when he kept treating him like a well-dressed fast-food clerk during the campaign.
Coal miners: Trump recently signed an executive order trashing the Obama initiatives to combat global warming. He was surrounded by happy-looking men from coal country, helping continue the grand new White House tradition of male-only photo sessions. “You’re going back to work,” the president told them gleefully. In reality, the guys in the room already had jobs, some as coal company executives. And Trump’s order won’t fix their region’s unemployment problems. However, the administration has indeed changed the world for some residents of Appalachia, greatly improving their chances of living near a stream filled with mining debris.
Sean Spicer: Oh my God, poor Sean Spicer. You wouldn’t wish this on anyone.
Russia: Russians worked hard to get Donald Trump elected president. And what did they get out of it? Multiple high-level investigations. Enormous rancor in Congress. Plus a drought of free food — no sane politician is going to want to be seen having dinner with a Russian diplomat.
Michael Flynn: Of all the American influence-peddlers who’ve been on the payroll of Russian oligarchs, only one is seeking immunity before he testifies at a congressional hearing. Remember when Flynn kept yelling “Lock her up!” during the Republican convention? Hehehehehe.