It wasn’t that long ago that The Guardian and New York magazine leaked quotes from Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, and, true to form, DT unleashed his wrath – going so far as to try to ban the book by preventing its publication.
The result: Wolff’s book jumped from virtually unknown to number one on the best sellers’ lists before it was even published.
What on earth could this book contain that would be so significant that the White House wanted to prevent us all from reading it? I mean, haven’t we all pretty much seen everything we need to see already?
Well, yes, actually.
Rumour is White House lawyers and advisors were at a loss when it came to persuading an irate DT that his efforts would do only one thing: ensure Wolff’s book was read far and wide. Indeed, that appears to be what’s happened.
Fire and Fury is hardly the kind of book I would normally pick up. (Well, in truth, I’d pick it up – I like to see if these books have photos sections. I like looking at the picture. Alas, Fire and Fury has no photos, so I’ll save you that effort). And while I don’t doubt that there are a plethora of very serious, very well researched, very well-intended investigations of what currently exists as a governmental administration in the US, Fire and Fury did not seem to be positioned as one of those. Everything about its build-up and release suggested quickly-written-tabloid-style-quick-read.
But, I’m human.
And, I’ll admit it. I’m glad I’ve read it.
If you’ve followed this administration at all – you won’t have even needed to follow the news diligently – there won’t be any real revelations here.
- Steve Bannon is a nationalist populist who views himself as the brains of the organisation.
- Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump – “Jarvanka” – are his nemesis, simultaneously courting the wealthy conservative Democratic chatteratti and carving their own dynastic future.
- No one, least of all the man inaugurated for the job, has any idea what it means to work within a government, to collaborate with politicians, or to effect legislation.
Nothing new here.
What Fire and Fury does do, though, is hone in on the immediate circle around DT without a great deal of judgement and with a good bit of wit. Wolff sidesteps most, if not all, of the issues surrounding GOP complicity and Democratic ineptitude. The Cabinet – including the Vice President – remain virtually untouched.
This is a story about DT, Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump. In truth, this is Bannon’s book. Steve Bannon is the star; everyone else is a bit player.
So, what we get, is a sense of the chaos, paranoia, and back-stabbing that are currently preventing the US government from functioning in any real capacity at all.
In fact, in his notes, Wolff writes: “In the end, what I witnessed, and what this book is about, is a group of people who have struggled, each in their own way, to come to terms with the meaning of working for Donald Trump.”
And that, folks, is what it is. It’s not an answer. It’s not a solution. It’s not even, in any deep sense, a critique. It’s a fly-on-the-wall, ignored (but open eared) visitor’s, eavesdropper’s observation of a dysfunctional organisation.
Verdict: Read it. If you’re in the anti-DT camp, it’s likely to confirm what you already thought, but the tight focus on Bannon and “Jarvanka” makes for an interesting read. If you’re a DT-sympathiser, it’s nowhere near as pointed or negative as you might have been led to believe, but it should make you consider how you choose your politicians.
Quote least likely to appear on The Guardian website: “Before the dinner, Bannon had sent around an article from The Guardian—though one of the leading English-language left-leaning newspapers, it was nevertheless Bannon’s favorite paper. . .”.
Favourite quote: “After all, McConnell and the president were barely on speaking terms. From his August “working holiday” in Bedminster, the president’s staff had tried to organize a makeup meeting with McConnell, but McConnell’s staff had sent back word that it wouldn’t be possible because the Senate leader would be getting a haircut.”
Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Michael Wolff (UK: Little, Brown – 2018), £20
Next: To Kill the President, Sam Bourne (UK: HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd – 2017), £7.99