New book uses wit, sarcasm to argue that Trumpism is destroying the conservative movement

TALLAHASSEE -- Mixed reviews are in for Tallahassee’s number-one “Never Trumper” -- Rick Wilson, who has a new book, “Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever.”

Regardless of what the critics say, the book is selling.

“Everything Trump” stood in third place on Amazon’s top-seller list Thursday, snug between “Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide” and “Crazy Rich Asians.”

Wilson’s book is marketed as, “A respected, long-time Republican strategist, ad-maker, and contributor for The Daily Beast, skewers the disease that is destroying the conservative movement and burning down the GOP: Trumpism.”

Chicago Tribune columnist Rex Huppke said the book “does what no squishy liberal newspaper columnist like myself can do: It pushes the modern-day Republican Party into the public square and roundly shames it for allowing an obvious con man like Trump to become its standard-bearer.”

Meanwhile, Tim Mak of NPR said Wilson’s story of a Republican Party shift toward Trumpism is conveyed in “a biting, over-the-top writing style,” that is more of “a rant at those who have disappointed him.”

“In 300-plus pages, he uses sarcasm and invective to let you know just how betrayed he feels -- and lists his many grievances,” Mak said. “But if you've been following the Trump presidency with any interest, you can read every last page and not learn anything new.

“Instead, you're told how righteously angry he is -- angry about how everyone from the evangelical right, to House Speaker Paul Ryan, to former RNC chairman Reince Priebus, to lobbyists, to big dollar Republican donors have genuflected to Trumpism and the man himself. All are sellouts, either cynical opportunists or too cowardly to stand up to Trump -- or both.”

Scorched in the book as being among the “opportunists in the House Trump camp,” Congressman Matt Gaetz, a Northwest Florida Republican, tweeted to the Tampa Bay Times that a correction was needed in the book: “Minor fact check -- I was elected at 27, not 22.”

A Supreme debate

While U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis’ Republican gubernatorial campaign has been criticized for being light on Florida-centric issues, the Harvard-trained lawyer has made a point of outlining his plans for judicial appointments if he is elected.

He turned to the issue again in his debate with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on Wednesday night in Jacksonville, noting that the terms of three Florida Supreme Court justices -- Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince -- expire in January when Gov. Rick Scott leaves office and a new governor is sworn in.

“The next governor in all likelihood can appoint three solid constitutionalists to the state Supreme Court, replacing three liberal jurists,” DeSantis said, saying former governors, including Charlie Crist, had appointed “liberal activists” to the state’s highest court.

“I will get those judicial appointments right. We will have judges in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, and we will end judicial activism in Florida for a generation,” he said.

“They’re not your appointments. They’re Gov. Scott’s appointments,” Putnam shot back, referencing Scott’s repeated assertion that he has the legal right to appoint the new justices as he leaves office in January.

Putnam said that if DeSantis takes the position that he would have appointment power, he is aligning himself with liberal groups, like the League of Women Voters of Florida, which has tried to block Scott’s attempt to appoint the new justices.

Apparently off the microphone, DeSantis mentioned that Scott may lose that power because of an early resignation related to his bid to join the U.S. Senate on Jan. 3. That is before Scott’s term as governor otherwise would end.

As a result, Putnam said the appointment power could fall to Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who has endorsed Putnam.

“I would think a Harvard, Yale-trained trained attorney would know the lieutenant governor would ascend to the governor’s role,” Putnam said, adding his own educational background as a University of Florida graduate as a footnote. “I’m just a Gator.”