Anthony McIntyre reviews a book on the opening years of the Trump presidency. 

 
This is one I read shortly after it was published. No better time to pen a light hearted review of it than in the week where Donald J Trump (J stands for Genius) was served his eviction order by the US electorate. That memorable opening line from Dick Tuck’s 1966 concession speech after losing the contest for the California State Senate is the phrase that springs to mind: The people have spoken, the bastards.

Not that those crazed supporters amongst his voters see it that way. For them, the people are not allowed to speak. Or at least when they do, they are not to be listened to. Theirs is not to speak but to listen. It is a world inhabited by Adorno's authoritarian personality type: the need to obey and be obeyed. 

Since the onset of Covid-19 and Trump's abysmal response to the virus, it seemed that the only way the Democrats could lose was to run Crooked Hillary again. Whatever we think of Trump and no matter how warped the crooked timber that makes up his own warped persona, he called it right on Clinton.

While the fate he dreaded has come to pass, Trump will show no dignity in defeat, just disgrace. In that fake world, the election will have been stolen from him; the Supreme Court, which he stacked for the very purpose of doing his bidding, will sort it all out on his behalf and restore him to his rightful place, the jester on the throne. It is beyond him to summon up the resolute firmness of Abe Lincoln who is reputed to have said when asked how he felt in the wake of an election defeat: “like a little boy who had stubbed his toe in the dark … too old to cry, but it hurt too much to laugh.” 

Having seen too much horrendous US foreign policy, it has always been difficult for me to work up a passion for the outcome of US presidential elections. Some unfortunate is always going to get bombed as a result of them. The first president I remember waged war abroad. There is no reason to think it will change with the most recent incumbent. This time, however, I felt it would be an abdication to bathe in the luxurious comfort of Kissingerian sentiment: A pity they both can’t lose. It was less enthusiasm for wanting Biden in that guided me, just a desire to see Trump out and the vile grip of that deranged mob of religious lunatics that spout fluent gibberish in support of him, prized away from anything resembling power.

The flavour of the madhouse scenario that became the Trump White House was scripted by Michael Wolff shortly into the maiden journey of the Ship Of Fools.  Memoirs - while they always make a useful addition to a library shelf, should only ever be opened upon reading a health warning. They are never a straightforward account. All too frequently those who author them have an ax to grind. Then there is the not so small matter of royalties. 

When Richard Nixon was disrobed of the presidency it was claimed that he had $500 in his bank account. A lucrative memoir deal solved that. So, like a religious collection plate, a memoir is not thrust in your face just to intellectually enrichen you.  The author of Fire And Fury had earlier faced allegations of massaging accuracy when in 2008 he published a book on Rupert Murdoch. His method for Fire And Fury, relying on a “disembodied description of events”, places him further from what he writes about than is safe. All of which added ballast to White House claims that Wolff situated himself more central to events than was merited. But then as the White House is a more than a white lie house, there is no particular reason to buy into it. Yes, Wolff reminds us of Kellyanne Conway's "alternative facts". 

Just days prior to The Donald being given the heave-ho I had finished viewing the Comey Rule which, according to the fact checkers and people with an understanding of these things claimed to be pretty much on the money. So much of what Wolff wrote impressionistically chimed with Comey.

Steve Bannon who last week took to calling for the beheading of Joseph Fauci and the current FBI director – their heads to be placed on spikes in a public warning to anyone thinking of becoming a “traitor” - features prominently in Fire And Fury. His first formal political job, coming at the mature age of 63, was as part of the Trump team. Later, when Trump launched an air strike on Syria in breach of the administration's isolation policy, it was Bannon "ever scheming, ever disappointed" who would feature among the victims. Bannon was only a second choice as campaign manager. Trump preferred an old buddy, Roger Ailes, former head of Sky News. Ailes observed after Trump debated Crooked Hillary that “you hit Donald along the head, and he keeps going. He doesn’t even know he has been hit” That might be related to him not possessing the required grey matter that enables a person to “know” in the first place.

Wolff's is a narrative of complete White House dysfunction under Trump: “to say that he knew nothing – nothing at all - about the basic intellectual foundations of the job was a comic understatement.” And so Fire And Fury runs.

One reviewer described Trump as our guilty pleasure. Fire And Fury helps show why. We derided his stay in the White House – a cretin, a moron, an imbecile, a racist, holding down the number one job in the world of politics, making a complete circus out of everything that previously seemed to possess gravitas. Yet, paradoxically, we loved to see a clown convince us that he was even more clownish than we had ever thought possible, that US politics was so shallow that a certifiable bleach drinking idiot with a UV lamp metaphorically stuck up his ass was revered by so many. It sure added wind to the sails of the Frank Dane witticism, Get all the fools on your side and you can be elected to anything. Nor was it a case of Trump being in possession of the secret of the demagogue defined by Karl Kraus: which was, "to make himself as stupid as his audience, so they believe they are as clever as he." He hardly had to work hard to make himself as stupid as the pot bellied gun toting red necks proclaiming that their "jeans" are superior.

Michael Wolff, 2018, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. Little, Brown. ISBN-13 : 978-1408711408

⏩Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.

Fire And Fury

Anthony McIntyre reviews a book on the opening years of the Trump presidency. 

 
This is one I read shortly after it was published. No better time to pen a light hearted review of it than in the week where Donald J Trump (J stands for Genius) was served his eviction order by the US electorate. That memorable opening line from Dick Tuck’s 1966 concession speech after losing the contest for the California State Senate is the phrase that springs to mind: The people have spoken, the bastards.

Not that those crazed supporters amongst his voters see it that way. For them, the people are not allowed to speak. Or at least when they do, they are not to be listened to. Theirs is not to speak but to listen. It is a world inhabited by Adorno's authoritarian personality type: the need to obey and be obeyed. 

Since the onset of Covid-19 and Trump's abysmal response to the virus, it seemed that the only way the Democrats could lose was to run Crooked Hillary again. Whatever we think of Trump and no matter how warped the crooked timber that makes up his own warped persona, he called it right on Clinton.

While the fate he dreaded has come to pass, Trump will show no dignity in defeat, just disgrace. In that fake world, the election will have been stolen from him; the Supreme Court, which he stacked for the very purpose of doing his bidding, will sort it all out on his behalf and restore him to his rightful place, the jester on the throne. It is beyond him to summon up the resolute firmness of Abe Lincoln who is reputed to have said when asked how he felt in the wake of an election defeat: “like a little boy who had stubbed his toe in the dark … too old to cry, but it hurt too much to laugh.” 

Having seen too much horrendous US foreign policy, it has always been difficult for me to work up a passion for the outcome of US presidential elections. Some unfortunate is always going to get bombed as a result of them. The first president I remember waged war abroad. There is no reason to think it will change with the most recent incumbent. This time, however, I felt it would be an abdication to bathe in the luxurious comfort of Kissingerian sentiment: A pity they both can’t lose. It was less enthusiasm for wanting Biden in that guided me, just a desire to see Trump out and the vile grip of that deranged mob of religious lunatics that spout fluent gibberish in support of him, prized away from anything resembling power.

The flavour of the madhouse scenario that became the Trump White House was scripted by Michael Wolff shortly into the maiden journey of the Ship Of Fools.  Memoirs - while they always make a useful addition to a library shelf, should only ever be opened upon reading a health warning. They are never a straightforward account. All too frequently those who author them have an ax to grind. Then there is the not so small matter of royalties. 

When Richard Nixon was disrobed of the presidency it was claimed that he had $500 in his bank account. A lucrative memoir deal solved that. So, like a religious collection plate, a memoir is not thrust in your face just to intellectually enrichen you.  The author of Fire And Fury had earlier faced allegations of massaging accuracy when in 2008 he published a book on Rupert Murdoch. His method for Fire And Fury, relying on a “disembodied description of events”, places him further from what he writes about than is safe. All of which added ballast to White House claims that Wolff situated himself more central to events than was merited. But then as the White House is a more than a white lie house, there is no particular reason to buy into it. Yes, Wolff reminds us of Kellyanne Conway's "alternative facts". 

Just days prior to The Donald being given the heave-ho I had finished viewing the Comey Rule which, according to the fact checkers and people with an understanding of these things claimed to be pretty much on the money. So much of what Wolff wrote impressionistically chimed with Comey.

Steve Bannon who last week took to calling for the beheading of Joseph Fauci and the current FBI director – their heads to be placed on spikes in a public warning to anyone thinking of becoming a “traitor” - features prominently in Fire And Fury. His first formal political job, coming at the mature age of 63, was as part of the Trump team. Later, when Trump launched an air strike on Syria in breach of the administration's isolation policy, it was Bannon "ever scheming, ever disappointed" who would feature among the victims. Bannon was only a second choice as campaign manager. Trump preferred an old buddy, Roger Ailes, former head of Sky News. Ailes observed after Trump debated Crooked Hillary that “you hit Donald along the head, and he keeps going. He doesn’t even know he has been hit” That might be related to him not possessing the required grey matter that enables a person to “know” in the first place.

Wolff's is a narrative of complete White House dysfunction under Trump: “to say that he knew nothing – nothing at all - about the basic intellectual foundations of the job was a comic understatement.” And so Fire And Fury runs.

One reviewer described Trump as our guilty pleasure. Fire And Fury helps show why. We derided his stay in the White House – a cretin, a moron, an imbecile, a racist, holding down the number one job in the world of politics, making a complete circus out of everything that previously seemed to possess gravitas. Yet, paradoxically, we loved to see a clown convince us that he was even more clownish than we had ever thought possible, that US politics was so shallow that a certifiable bleach drinking idiot with a UV lamp metaphorically stuck up his ass was revered by so many. It sure added wind to the sails of the Frank Dane witticism, Get all the fools on your side and you can be elected to anything. Nor was it a case of Trump being in possession of the secret of the demagogue defined by Karl Kraus: which was, "to make himself as stupid as his audience, so they believe they are as clever as he." He hardly had to work hard to make himself as stupid as the pot bellied gun toting red necks proclaiming that their "jeans" are superior.

Michael Wolff, 2018, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. Little, Brown. ISBN-13 : 978-1408711408

⏩Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.

13 comments:

  1. Don't for a moment think he's a moron, he's cunning and devious. His narcissism guarantees he will run for 2024 and he'll spend the next 4 years throwing all kinds of shit at Creepy Joe and Harris. I reckon Biden will have to step down within 2 years and Harris will take over as the only way to try to unite the people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steve - My wife reminded me that I was laughing loudly on a bus while reading the book!

      I am not so sure he will run next time. I guess once he is out he will be open to investigation like never before and a lot of republicans will be eyeing up the position. They might help out. He will not be prosecuted but might end up having to do a deal.

      Delete
    2. AM,

      He will pardon himself for any transgressions before leaving office, his self-regard ensures it. Everything balanced, he secured a hell of a lot of votes from the people and no Republican can ignore that.

      David,

      I'm with you. Biden is as dirty albeit in a different way as Trump. He's also still displaying neurological symptoms. He'll only be around for a few years in my opinion.

      Delete
  2. Steve,
    I don't know if they are that divided. In actual preparing for conflict, divided. There is 320million of them and 400 million private guns if there was as much hatred as the media makes out, it be a lot more eventful.
    I can't get excited about Trump going, fair enough he's a dick but Biden? Oh woohoo

    ReplyDelete
  3. At the end of thde day, Biden's vivtory has saved America's de mocratic instiutions, proc esses and values and the global legitimacy of liberal democracy. Alsoi a message to thise ob the perpetually disappointed left who moan that Biden is not radical enough he pooled a record 74m plus votes. Contrast that with the fate of a left populist led party in another fairly recent electoral contest in another Anglophone democracy ....

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  4. Barry,
    I think it's more to do with that he authored the crime bill, has a rape allegation so on, rather than being radical. You make grandiose statements about saving democracy but no details, in what way?
    I'm not buying the Trump is a dictator wannabe more like a petulant kid. Dictators usually have military experience, balls in other words. He has none of this he's a showman.
    Now he's away, what did this great tyrant do? He deported less Mexicans than his predecessor killed less civilians, so what did he do? The Russians must be disappointed with their asset if this is the end result. What happened?

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  5. He called journalists "enemies of the people"; he stripped out expertsie from agecies like Environmental Protection and filled them with cronies ;picked for loyalty rathre than expertise; he sacked Comey as Hdead of th FBI for not being "loyal"; he ordered federal troops into states to deal with BLM protests and used riot police to clear a path for that infamlous Bible stunt outside that chutrch; he separated cildren from their parents at the Mexican border and caged them; he lied industrially or told "alternative facts" about everything from the size of the crowd at nis inauguration to the impact of Covid-19.

    But worst of all he refuses to accept the outcome of a free and fair election. The integity of democracy depends on elecoral losers acce;pting their defeat. GTrump's behaviour in this regard is more like that of a Mugable or Lushenko than that of thde supposed head of the "free world".

    Yes, David Trump acts as a petulant child and as a showman. But his narcisstic personality disorde and his willinjgness to listen only to sycophants and his admiration of strong men rathr than dem ocratic leaders should leave us in no dloubt that had he secured a second term, American democracy would have been seriously imperilled for no such character has ever risen to the top-of the pile in any other Western democracy.

    And finally regarding yor claim that he killed less civilians than Obama, it is a fact tha civilian casualties in the military campaign against ISIS increased sharply afterTrump became CIC of US armed forces.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Barry,
    Your answer proves my point. You said he was the greatest threat to liberal democracy. Tyrannical. When asked what he did the best you can come up with is he was rude to journalists. Used facilities built by his predecessor and successor.
    Al Gore didn't concede till December, contesting is nothing new. Your implying US institutions can't survive Trump, he's a buffon.
    Barry he had four years, saying he was going to do it if reelected is idiotic.
    It's not a claim you can compare Obama's first term with Trump on US government websites he killed less civilians according to their numbers.

    ReplyDelete
  7. David

    I said a lot more than that he was rude to journalists. I have in instanced numerous examples of Trump trying to bend insitutions to his will from the FBI to the judiciary to the Environment Agdency.

    Gore did not concede until December 2000 because the Florida outcome was so close in a Rizla papwr kind of way. it is transparently obvious that the numbers in all of the 'disputed' state stack up in Biden's favour. What Trump is attempting is nothing less than a coup in real time. Does that not concern you?

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  8. Bear in mind all journalists are now more activists for private corporate interests. It's no surprise Trump is hated by these guys because he's uncontrollable and happily points out their corruption to take the heat off himself.

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  9. Barry,
    You didn't, not really. How did he get on bending these institutions?
    His supporters would argue it's close, they have that right.
    A coup is a sudden illegal seizure of power. He's doing no such thing.
    This was always the problem with Trump. You engaged in conspiracy theories instead of focusing on his natural malevolence. Now you should answer. After four years of this Russian agent, enemy of democracy at the helm of the world's most powerful nation, what changed? Let's compare his crimes to past presidents.
    Trump has never concerned me. Trump is a scumbag who'll play his audience while never putting himself in danger, people like yourself made him more than he was.

    ReplyDelete
  10. David

    200,000 and counting deaths from Covid-19.

    Stuffing the Supreme Court and hundreds of lower courts with his supporters.

    Calling the neo-nazis and white supremacists at Charlottesville "very fine people".

    Telling four elected Democratic congresswomen to go back to where they came from and numerous other racist dog whistles including the birther conspiracy theory.

    I have never shied away from focusing on Trump's natural malevolence but there is nothing of the conspiracy theory about his Russian connections. Six of his 2016 campaign team went to jail for offences related to them.

    ReplyDelete