Stephen Miller is a conundrum: a young man, living out what appears to be a hard-worn middle age, who has amassed an incredible amount of power to spread racist policies throughout the land at just 34 years of age. Why do so many people listen to this man? Is he actually a vampire? Has his rotten heart triggered a reverse Benjamin Button aging process? But my biggest question has been somehow unanswerable: How did this decidedly horrible and mediocre man get to be so awful—and so powerful?
Excerpts of Jean Guerrero’s incisive and terrifying book, Hatemonger, are trickling into the wild, and they have some helpful–if not entirely satisfying—information on how Miller, a bona fide monster in human form, became so influential among the party’s right. Guerrero chronicles Miller’s influences, and unsurprisingly he seems to have been deeply inspired by Rush Limbaugh and has been writing buddies with Ann Coulter for what seems to be a very long time. One of the more triggering anecdotes involves Miller’s predilection for mobster movies, like Casino and Goodfellas, which seem to form the basis of much of his personality. From Vanity Fair:
He appeared to study De Niro’s gestures—the loose hands, the fingertips-on-fingertips, the head tics—and incorporate them into his persona. Years later, he’d stand at podiums and conjure the old mobster in himself. “All these conservative guys can’t help themselves, it’s such a horrible cliché but they love the mafia,” recalls one classmate. “The mobster is the perfect encapsulation of the conservative worldview, where there’s no real law and order apart from ‘might makes right.’”
But the most telling story involves Miller’s inexplicable and constant obsession with using his political career to personally and viciously attack Latinx people, both individually and as a group. Miller reportedly cut his teeth in Jeff Sessions’s office leading a bizarre campaign against Justice Sonya Sotomayor when she was first appointed to the Supreme Court. Miller attempted to seed stories to the press that she was a “lesbian” and that her Latina background would necessarily create bias in her judgments. (Journalists and editors seemed to have been baffled by these pitches.) In fact, Miller appears to be the architect of the vilest policies engineered by Sessions, working behind-the-scenes against any policy helping marginalized groups and branding Sessions as the extreme racist with ties to White Nationalism he is known as today.
What comes across is a baffling portrait of a man driven simultaneously by a need to desire to crush Latinx people and block pathways of immigration that people like *cough* Stephen Miller’s family have enjoyed, but also an understanding that such a vast bubble of hate might a way to rally support around an invented enemy–a political calling card, so to speak, for an ambitious and despicable man.
It’s worth reading the excerpt in its entirety and if you have the stomach for it, Guerrero’s book. [Vanity Fair]
- It’s frankly bizarre that a protester who snapped a photo of a cop in an attempt to identify him is charged with felony cyber harassment when the police force has been using facial identification very freely. [Washington Post]
- Jerry Fallwell Jr. is now on a “leave of absence” Liberty University after posting a gross vacation photo, bearing his crotch, that would’ve easily gotten him expelled were he a student and not just a disgusting old man. [Washington Post]
- A reminder I did not particularly need today that Trump has an arsenal of nuclear weapons at his disposal! [Politico]
- A group of more than 300 Democratic delegates wrote a letter urging Joe Biden to pick Rep. Karen Bass for VP, arguing that she is a “unity” candidate. (If history is any guide, this label means she will almost certainly not be selected.) [Politico]
- Not only did organizer and environmentalist Marquita Bradshaw pull off a surprise Democratic primary win in Tennessee’s Senate race, she did it on $8,420 to James Mackler’s $2.1 million. [Tennessean]
- Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, is now somehow loathed by both Democrats and the Trump administration—only a closet full of fabulous scarfs have her back. [New York Times]
- Deja vu from this exhausted punchline...