Journalist Michael Wolff has written a stunner in Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. I first heard about it when people on CNN and MSNBC started reading excerpts from it a couple of days ago. They’d gotten early copies. Then the news reported that trump’s attorneys had sent cease and desist letters to Wolff and his publisher, Henry Holt, to stop publication of the book.
And I thought, Huh? Really? The president of the U.S. is trying to stop the publication of a book? To trample the first amendment? It felt like Fahrenheit 451, like Nazi Germany’s legendary book burnings. It felt WRONG. BAD. Like Fascism.
The publisher ignored the cease and desist and brought the book out four days early – on January 5 instead of January 9. I ordered my ebook on the evening of January 4, but Amazon apparently couldn’t keep up with the fluctuations and it was scheduled to get to my Kindle app on January 9. I cancelled the order. Then this morning, I checked Amazon again and the book was available for download.
When I downloaded the book, it had 13 reviews. Tonight, there are over 400 reviews. Wow.
What’s fascinating about the book is that after trump won, Wolff basically parked himself on a couch in the West Wing and interviewed staffers and people who moved through the area. The white house was so chaotic that no one told him to move on or that he couldn’t be there. trump himself gave a sort of carte blanche to Wolff because, after all, trump apparently doesn’t read and so what if this guy wanted to write a book?
What Wolff depicts is what sane people have observed 24/7 in the last year – an administration in total chaos, a narcissistic president more concerned about his public image – his brand – than in governing. A man so childish that he requires handlers who struggle to mitigate every tweet he makes. Wolff describes the relationship trump has with his daughter, his son-in-law Jared, his sons Eric and Donald, and all of it is just so bizarre that if you try to fully understand it, you may end up on a shrink’s couch. How’d we get here as a country?
Then there’s trump’s relationship with Bannon, who seemed to have talked freely with Wolff at various points during his tenure in the West Wing. Perhaps sleazy Bannon had his eye on a 2020 run for the presidency. That possibility seems pretty remote now. trump fired back with tweets, of course, about the book and how when Bannon lost his job, he also lost his mind. And then there’s Sarah Sanders, trump’s liar in chief in the media, who says that the prez of course supports the first amendment, but that Fire and Fury is fiction, fantasy.
Sure, Sarah. And there’s a special place in hell for people like you. Just ask your Daddy Huckabee.
One thing you can bank on with trump and his people. If they deny something, then you know it’s true. They live in the upside world of Stranger Things. It’s where reality is not what the rest of us think it is, but is defined through some skewed lens where the most powerful person in the world lounges around in bed eating cheeseburgers from McDonald’s, watching Fox News, and playing twitter chicken with North Korean’s nuclear-armed nut case.
Wolff captures all of this brilliantly. My hope is that the book helps to bring down trump’s presidency.