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A Republican Insider Studies His Burned Bridges and a Combustible G.O.P.

In a stately home in Washington’s diplomatic district, the Never Trump celebrities gathered on Saturday for one of the city’s fancier book parties, where many of the capital’s elite political journalists reported the Republican operatives who broke with the former president — often with major blows. risks rubbing elbows. for their career and sanity.

Serving sushi, flatbread pizzas and endless cups of vodka soda, the crowd of about 100 people exchanged gossip and discussed “Why We Did It,” the heartbreakingly personal and sometimes flaming new memoir of Tim Miller, a former Republican insider who once a rising star with access to the highest levels of power within the GOP

Over the course of about a decade, Miller gradually broke away from not only the Trump-aligned forces that were steadily taking over the Republican Party, beginning with Sarah Palin’s vice presidential run, but also the so-called founding of the party. These “normal” Republicans who made up his network of friends and colleagues, he says, were the not-so-ideological “adults in the room you hear so much about.”

So why, as the title of the book asks, did he do it?

“Part reconciliation, part heartfelt feeling that despite going through all this for six to seven years, I still didn’t quite understand why my former friends and colleagues and I kept going,” Miller said in an interview while holding an Acela between New York and Washington.

When we spoke, Miller was on his way to the Politics and Prose bookstore in the leafy Cleveland Park neighborhood of northwest Washington. The store is on the same block as Comet Ping Pong, a much-loved pizzeria that was stormed in 2016 by a confused gunman in search of a haunted child sex ring that was bolstered online by some of the people associated with Trump’s rise.

The new book is laced with pearls of wisdom, observations on human psychology, and entire chapters of hard self-reflection that only an insider like Miller—who is by all means an extremely talented opposition researcher and communications strategist who had a direct hand in everything from planting hit pieces on several politicians in Breitbart to cut rivals – could do the trick.

“At one point my editor told me to take the hair shirt off,” Miller said, because there was too much culpa in his mea culpa.

The editor, Eric Nelson, runs Broadside, Harper Collins’ conservative imprint, making him a particularly suitable partner for the project. Nelson has turned conservative intramural skirmishes into a cottage industry, teaming up with other prominent figures in Never Trump circles such as Amanda Carpenter and Ben Howe, while also bringing in books by hardcore MAGA greats.

Leaving the regular GOP class, Miller blew up every bridge he built in his Washington years, fled to Oakland and adopted a daughter, Toulouse, with his husband.

Friends say Miller “walked off a cliff” into a future that could mean exile and threats to his mental health and physical safety. His book, which describes his relationships with the Republicans he left behind, tries to explain why he did what he did and why they did what they did.

“Not many people have been both brave and successful,” said Juleanna Glover, a public affairs adviser and former press secretary for Vice President Dick Cheney, who hosted the party last weekend. Over the years, her home has become something of a refuge for a variety of purposes, from Syrian refugees to Americans held hostage in Russia.

Glover’s soiree was a particularly revealing moment, not only because of the exclusive company, but also because it revealed just how small the world is of serious Republican strategists who rejected Trump.

There was Sarah Longwell, a close Miller ally who masterminded Republican voters against Trump, one of a constellation of anti-Trump groups that spent millions helping Democrats in key swing states like Georgia in 2020.

Jeremy Adler, a top communications adviser to Representative Liz Cheney, slid down the stairs with Democratic National Committee executive director Sam Cornale, while Andrew Bates, a deputy White House press secretary, found a quiet corner to sit in on one of the hundreds. to handle. number of pings he gets every day from the press corps in Washington.

Many of the capital’s most established reporters were also there, including Ryan Lizza and Alex Thompson from Politico’s Beltway Insider Playbook Franchise† Josh Dawsey, a former Politico reporter and scooping machine now at The Washington Post; and Mark Leibovich, a longtime New York Times writer who now works at The Atlantic. Leibovich wrote a 2013 book about such scenes called “This Town,” a title that has become something of an archmetonym for all things Washington.

There was also Marcus Brauchli, the former editor of the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal who now directs Donald Graham’s foreign investment in journalistic projects, along with Neera Teeththe Twitter-happy staff secretary at the Biden White House and a frequent guest at parties in Washington.

Credit…Sophie Berard Photography

On the central question the book attempts to answer, Miller does not come to a firm, one-ring-to-rule-the-all conclusion to explain the mystery of why some Republican agents stayed with Trump and who Miller sees as the new one. MAGA overlords of the GOP, while a few others, like him, bowed.

Nor was there a single Eureka moment when he decided to stop jeopardizing his values ​​by working for politicians he despised, he said. But he noted that Republicans from marginalized groups, such as the LGBTQ community, seemed more offended by Trump’s crass behavior than others.

For Miller, leaving the Republican establishment was a zigzagging personal journey of fits and starts. He worked for Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for governor of Virginia in 2013, despite Cuccinelli’s opposition to same-sex marriage and his defense of the state’s antisodomy law.

And in early 2017, while doing what he called “corporate PR outrage” to make ends meet, Miller hired Scott Pruitt as a client, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, who later resigned under of a series of ethical studies.

Deeply ashamed of his own actions, those experiences led Miller to therapy, which he believes helped unlock the emotional self-awareness to write the book and regain peace with his decisions.

The book is as much a warning as it is a scorching exploration of his own self-loathing. By most indications, Trump appears to be gearing up for another presidential run in 2024, and the same pathologies that drove Miller out of the Republican centers of power he once faced have only become more cancer-causing in his opinion.

“Maybe,” he said, “I had the book ‘Why are we still doing it?’ have to call it.”

  • The Supreme Court today narrowed the scope of its landmark 2020 decision, declaring much of eastern Oklahoma to be within Indian reservation areas, allowing state authorities to prosecute non-Indians who commit crimes against Indians on the reservations .

— Blake

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