Home » The Darkness Has Not Overcome: limp pro-Trump piety for a second coming | Books

The Darkness Has Not Overcome: limp pro-Trump piety for a second coming | Books

by John Jefferson
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The Darkness Has Not Overcome is a far cry from Team of Vipers, Cliff Sims’s kiss-and-tell from 2019. Under the subtitle My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House, that book sold well and spawned a brief legal spat with Donald Trump himself. But in a somewhat less stirring second outing, the Alabama son of two generations of Baptist ministers who became a reporter then a White House aide pays greatest attention to the lessons he takes from scripture and faith.

Back in the Trumpian fold, this viper’s venom is distinctly diluted.

Sims was cast out of Trumpworld in 2018 but returned to work as a speechwriter for Trump family members at the Republican convention in 2020. Then he landed a slot as a deputy to John Ratcliffe, a congressman turned director of national intelligence.

Donald Trump Jr offers his praise for Sims’s new book, calling Sims “his friend”. The younger Trump – not noted for public displays of piety, let’s say – also laments that “American Christians are under attack every day by leftwing activists, stream media and liberal politicians”.

Sims aches to land a punch for the team, but is reduced to trading on old glories. In his prologue, he rehashes near-verbatim a Team of Vipers story involving Trump and Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, then chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Richmond purportedly praised the president to his face in a closed meeting, then intimated he was a bigot when the cameras rolled.

“Congressman Richmond had been so sincere and complimentary of him behind closed doors, I thought he might at least be willing to say he didn’t personally believe Trump was racist. But he didn’t,” Sims writes – in both Team of Vipers and The Darkness Has Not Overcome.

“‘You’d have to talk to the people who made those allegations and ask them what they would say about it,’ [Richmond told reporters]. ‘I will tell you that he’s the 45th president of the United States …’”

If it had not been offered before, in greater detail – there’s no Omarosa Manigault this time – the anecdote might add a pinch of zest to a bland book. After all, Richmond now co-chairs Biden’s re-election campaign.

Elsewhere, under a new, less fun subtitle – “Lessons on Faith and Politics from Inside the Halls of Power” – Sims decides to examine the legacy of Adolf Hitler, the “big lie” and the nature of tyranny. Those of a naive disposition, look away: Sims proves oddly unwilling to consider Trump’s affections for and frequent rhetorical echoes of Hitler, and his yearning to be an American strongman.

“A psychological analysis of Hitler commissioned by the [Office of Strategic Services] during world war two described his obsession with lying as a way to manipulate the masses,” Sims writes.

“Hitler’s policy of lies propelled him into power and ultimately played a significant role in his ability to perpetrate mass genocide. The truth matters a lot more than you might think.”

So how does Trump, the man Sims backs to return to the White House and who lies as he breathes, think about Hitler?

Trump reportedly kept a collection of the Führer’s speeches at his bedside.

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times has captured Steve Bannon, a close Trump ally, giving this judgment of Trump’s history-making escalator ride in spring 2015, to enter the Republican race: “That’s Hitler, Bannon thought.”

Jim Sciutto of CNN has quoted John Kelly, Trump’s second chief of staff, on Trump’s fondness for Hitler.

Trump: “Well, but Hitler did some good things.”

Kelly: “Sir, you can never say anything good about the guy. Nothing. I mean, Mussolini was a great guy in comparison.”

In the White House, relations between Sims and Kelly were sulfurous. “In the past 40 years, I don’t think I’ve ever had a subordinate whose reputation is worse than yours,” Sims quotes Kelly as saying in Team of Vipers.

Now, Sims also avoids discussion of Trump’s stated intention to act as a dictator for at least a day if re-elected, and his own big lie: that the 2020 election went to Joe Biden because of electoral fraud.

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Just last weekend, Trump compared the Biden administration to Hitler’s Gestapo. Can you say, “projection”?

Sims still has scores to settle. He luxuriates in the downfall of Robert Bentley, an Alabama governor whose affair with a campaign consultant went public. Oddly demure, Sims omits Bentley’s name while describing obtaining a damning recording from a source at midnight at a gas station, carrying a gun just in case.

“The episode felt like a dramatic scene out of a spy movie … Ruger nine-millimeter pistol tucked in my waistband,” Sims writes. “I plugged the drive into my computer, opened the file and within a few minutes knew indeed that it would change the course of Alabama’s political history.”

Bentley, a church deacon, resigned in the face of impeachment. He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, for misuse of state funds.

After reveling in the details of Bentley’s descent, Sims delivers a killer coda: he called Bentley to let him know he “had been praying for his family”.

You can’t make such stuff up. But it doesn’t end there: Sims spikes the football.

“Even after he had lost everything, including the powerful office to which he had violently clung, he returned to his dermatology practice and hired as his office manager, believe it or not, his former political advisor and mistress.”

Bentley never mounted an insurrection or claimed immunity from prosecution. Sims, of course, doesn’t even mention January 6.

He also stays mum about Trump’s alleged hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, an adult film star and a Playboy model who claimed affairs. The adjudicated sexual assault of E Jean Carroll? Nothing.

The Darkness Has Not Overcome is an audition for a return trip to the White House. In that, Sims is not alone. Heck, even Ivanka wants in.

Read the full article here

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