(Slate) — Donald Trump is surrounded by a reality distortion field. It takes the form of spectacle—an unending series of antics that emanate from the president’s rhetoric and his disruptive, dysfunctional behavior. It’s what controversial journalist Michael Wolff describes in his new book Fire and Fury—what we see whenever the president transgresses the norms and standards that once bound his office. It’s what David Brooks recently dubbed “the Potemkin White House.”
It’s a distortion field because it obscures a key truth of the political moment: that the White House is working steadily and efficiently to turn the president’s rhetoric into policy and to advance the goals of the conservative ideological and business interests that backed his candidacy. And it has been effective in dismantling the regulatory state, rolling back Obama-era reforms in the criminal justice system and advancing its vision for immigration policy.
The two White Houses often work in tandem. While President Trump was threatening North Korea with this country’s nuclear arsenal, the Department of the Interior was taking steps to lift prohibitions on offshore drilling. The proposal, unveiled by Secretary Ryan Zinke, would open thousands of miles of coastline to resource extraction, in addition to reauthorizing leases for drilling in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.