It should probably go without saying that just about everyone involved in the Trump White House suffers some sort of debilitating character flaw that, at the very least, allows them to happily back a president committed to attacking immigrants, Muslims, women, and the LGBTQ community.
...And then there’s Stephen Miller.
At 31, Miller is the youngest member of Trump’s inner circle. But, thanks to his work crafting the president’s wildly unpopular Muslim travel ban, Miller has managed to make a name for himself as one of the administration’s leading henchmen.
A lengthy new Vanity Fair profile of Miller in the magazine’s summer issue, which was published online on Tuesday, charts his trajectory from wealthy So-Cal pissant to Washington, D.C. powerbroker. It’s a story peppered with anecdotes from the people who knew Miller way back when, all of which points to one inescapable conclusion: This guy is a massive asshole.
Stephen Miller, this is your life:
“He really liked this kind of macho alpha-male thing that was going on with [Captain] Kirk,” remembers Jason Islas, a friend of Miller’s in middle school. “I think he was really attracted to that as a model for his own behavior.” Miller also was fixated on Las Vegas-style gangsters, “like the Bugsy Siegel types,” explains Islas. In one yearbook picture, Miller is dressed as a mobster, with a wad of cash in his hand.
Sophie Goldstein, told the [Los Angeles Jewish] Journal about an incident in which a small group of students were deciding how to divide up a last piece of pizza in a fair way. “We’re all talking and talking about it,” she said. “In the middle of this discussion, Stephen slaps his open hand down on the middle of the slice of pizza. And of course nobody would touch this pizza slice after he put his greasy 13-year-old paw on it.”
According to Islas, one day Miller telephoned him and told him he didn’t want to be friends anymore. Not content to just let their interactions fade as they moved from one school to another, Miller wanted to make a point. “He gave me a whole list of reasons why we couldn’t be friends and almost all of them were personal, but the one that stuck out was because of my Latino heritage,” Islas recalls. “It was the one that wasn’t directly personal. It was very strange.”
His high-school yearbook quotation came from Teddy Roosevelt: “There can be no fifty-fifty Americanism in this country. There is room here for only 100% Americanism, only for those who are American and nothing else.”
From ninth grade on, he wrote, a number of his classmates “lacked basic English skills” and there were “very few, if any,” Latino students in his honors classes, “despite the large number of Hispanic students that attend our school.”
By many accounts, Miller’s proudest achievement in high school was forcing the school to comply with the California Education Code’s requirement that a “patriotic exercise” be conducted daily, which Santa Monica High School had failed to do. Miller brought the violation to the attention of Mark Kelly, who was then a co-principal at the high school.
[Miller and a friend] had gone together to Sacramento for a week-long stay at Boys State, an immersive program designed to educate high-school students in the ways of state and local government (and to counter the socialism-inspired Young Pioneer camps). Miller was determined to win an election to a mock city council “any way he could,” even using dirty tricks, Silverman recalls. Boys State was on the conservative side of the political spectrum. “I imagine Stephen felt he would be right at home,” Silverman wrote on a recent Facebook post. “But even here, among his seemingly ideological allies, he was ostracized. After being voted out of the mock city council, Miller threw a tantrum, flipping over a table and shouting ‘You can’t do this to me!!!
Corey Sobel, a classmate of Miller’s at Duke and one of the co-authors of [a letter decrying Miller’s political views], says, “You wouldn’t really believe the number of stories where he would offend—very suspiciously always a young woman—with whatever broad tirade against liberalism and free thought he had, and then, a couple of weeks later, ask that same woman who he had offended, usually publicly, out on a date.”
It’s really no wonder he’s done so well in the Trump administration.