Richard Nixon’s face is tattooed on his back. The Miami Herald last year awarded him the title of “America’s most notorious political hatchet man.” Over 40-plus years in politics, he has laid waste to candidates and causes from Florida to the Ukraine, and he boasts about all of it on his website and to any reporter who interviews him.
Donald Trump once called him “a stone-cold loser” who “always tries taking credit for things he never did.” But there he is, in the background of Trump’s campaign for the GOP nomination for president, from which he says he resigned and Trump says he was fired. What’s more likely is that the departure was a ruse, scripted to enable him to get more air time. As a free agent, he can tout Trump on any talk show that will have him, which is exactly what he has been doing.
“He” is Roger Stone, but the promotion of Trump may not be his primary goal.
Vain, venal and vicious, Stone is engaged in a long-running personal campaign to defame the two previously presumed front-runners, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, and he has produced a pair of new smear books to further that aim. But the books are not the issue here. Rather, it is whether Roger Stone was ever really interested in supporting Trump’s candidacy — or just using The Donald as a vehicle to further his own objectives, including and especially his two-pronged crusade against Bush and Clinton.
People like Stone and Trump have no problem with that kind of arrangement. As members of a sub-species that sees the world in zero-sum, dog-eat-dog terms, they accept that taking advantage of each other, or each other’s weaknesses, is part of the game. You either win or you lose, so you do whatever it takes to win.
When it comes to Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, Stone is determined to win — and has been for some time.
In 2008, he told a reporter for The New Yorker: “Jeb is waiting in the wings? Over my dead body. The Bushes have brought us to ruin twice—first 1992 and now. I’ll see you in New Hampshire to stop it. I’ll wait for him.”
In that same election cycle, he established an anti-Hillary PAC with a name that formed an obscene acronym for female genitalia, and boosted the acronym on a website and T-shirts.
And now we have two new books, neither of which will be acknowledged here by its title — because that is what Roger Stone wants.
So Stone’s association with Trump, which has a history of at least 15 years, is probably not about The Donald at all, but instead, like virtually everything else in Stone’s life, about Stone.