Tuesday, 16 January 2018
"Fire and Fury" - a personality driven roller coaster ride through the first 12 months of the Trump presidency
by Michael Wolff
Published by Little Brown
This much publicised book offers a personality driven roller coaster ride through the first year of the Trump presidency.
Author Michael Wolff takes the reader on a white knuckle journey through a series of debacles that have come to characterise Trump’s first year as President.
Central though to the account are the different characters and factions, constantly at war with each other amid a dysfunctional administration
The overidding impression is of a chaotic Whitehouse struggling to serve an unfit for purpose President.
Early on Wolff draws a parallel between the Mel Brooks film the Producers and the Trump election campaign.
In the film, everything will work out, just so long as the play being produced flops, so with the Trump campaign, everything would be fine just so long as he lost. Wolff referes to how Trump was using the campaign as a pre-runner to getting better TV exposure. All started to unravel once the candidate triumphed.
The title Fire and Fury refers to what the Trump campaign had planned to release, once they had lost the election to Hilary Clinton. The phrase has ofcourse since been used to describe what Trump would release on North Korea, if the leader of that country continued to taunt him.
The sterotyping process, so often deployed by Trump provides some amusing asides, such as when the administration, having railed about the liberalism of Obama, finds that many of the measures they are proposing on immigration had already been enacted by the previous administration.
Wolff spares no blushes, as he runs through the different characters in the Trump Whitehouse. There is a constant battle between the different factions represented by Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus and the President’s daugher Ivanka and son in law Jared Kushner. The latter became known as Javanka.
Bannon is seen as the representative of the far right backers. Chief of staff, Priebus is the Republicans representative, working closely with House leader Paul Ryan. Jarvanka are more from the Democratic wing of things. All hate each other.
The book chronicles the institutional failures, as well as the ongoing litany of very public disasters, from the firing of FBI director James Comey, to North Korea name calling and the Charlottseville statue riots.
The ongoing disaster that is the Trump presidency can be measured by the fact that many of the debacles chronicled now seem long ago, overtaken by more recent attacks on African and Latin American countries and dissing of the US embassy in the UK.
A central prediction in the book seems to be that the links with Russia during the election campaign are likely - courtesy of the way the Comey firing was handled, resulting in the appointment of a special prosecutor - to be the final undoing of Trump, somewhere down the line.
Wolff certainly gives the impression of an unhinged President, seemingly unable to think rationally, unpredictable and unable to be contained by an increasingly exasperated staff.
The references to staff leaving or refusing to join the administration for fear of the damage that association will do to their careers is another amusing aside.
Wolff has produced a fascinating book, giving a real insight into the turmoil of the Trump Whitehouse. A bit breathless at times, and gossip column like in style, the author sometimes oversteps the mark, such as when quoting what the likes of Bannon are thinking. But on the whole this is a gripping read, though scary when one thinks through the implications of such a volatile character in the Whitehouse.