Read Remark Book Review - Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff

Book Review: Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff
Published January 2018
Henry Holt and Co.

When I heard of the attempts to block Fire and Fury from publication, I had to read it.

It’s the same reaction I had when North Korea tried to quash the terrible Seth Rogen movie, The Interview. Whether it’s good or bad, I’ll be damned if anyone censors my access to it. So I watched the movie for America and for freedom (…and cringed. It really is bad). Same goes for Fire and Fury. If I refuse to be blocked by North Korea, you can be doubly sure I won’t be blocked by the leader of my own country.

The accounts within show a troubled and chaotic presidency, where everyone in Trump’s circle is certain of his ineptitude and yes-man interns such as Hope Hicks and Stephen Miller are among the only ones able to stick around long enough to gain senior positions for which they aren’t qualified.

Some have already stepped forward to claim the book presents a false narrative. Others proclaim its honesty. To be on the safe side, assume each of these summary points are prefixed with “allegedly.”

Among the claims outlined by Wolff:

Trump never expected to win

No one on Trump’s team, especially Trump himself, expected him to win. It was a grab at fame and power. When he did win, the team was shocked. Melania was in tears, and not of happiness. Trump shifted almost immediately to the strident belief that he deserved to be president. This article, also by Wolff, recounts the election night and the early days of Trump’s presidency.

Trump knew almost nothing about politics going in. Neither did many of those with whom he surrounded himself. Impetuous and easily swayed, Trump often offered people jobs on the spot for positions he didn’t even fully understand.

Jarvanka

Though Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, remains somewhat of an enigma in the public eye, Fire and Fury shows his machinations behind the scenes.

Corey Lewandowski allegedly refers to him as “the butler.” Kushner has endeared himself by, among other things, staying out of Trump’s way. When there had been a strong chance Kushner could become Chief of Staff, Ann Coulter pulled Trump aside to tell him that he just couldn’t hire his children.

Chris Christie’s involvement in Kushner’s family history offers differing views of Kushner among Washington insiders. In one view, he is part of a vengeful plan to keep Christie out of the White House.

“But other accounts offer a subtler, and in a way darker, picture. Jared Kushner, like sons in law everywhere, tiptoes around his father-in-law, carefully displacing as little air as possible. The massive and domineering older man. The reedy and pliant younger one.”

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, jointly monikered “Jarvanka” by Bannon, secretly have high political ambitions of their own, preferably culminating in Ivanka as the first female president. While protecting and enriching their already vast wealth, they simultaneously promote their own political agendas. Together, Jarvanka contributed to several monumental moves, including firing Comey and installing Anthony Scaramucci.

Steve Bannon

At the center of Fire and Fury is Steve Bannon. Bannon, whispering in the president’s ear, encouraging travel bans, Roy Moore support, and a brand of Trumpism that gleefully watches as the world burns.

During its early months, the presidency isn’t described so much as a reign by Donald Trump as it is a struggle for power between Bannon, Jarvanka, and Reince Priebus. With Bannon gone and now ostensibly ostracized because of his involvement in Fire and Fury, we’re left to wonder who will next win the role of The Donald Whisperer.

John Kelly

Wolff almost sympathetically describes John Kelly’s dawning horror at the futility of his position as Chief of Staff.

What was supposed to be a position that commanded the president’s respect and consideration has become Trump spouting unfiltered condemnation of the alt-left after KKK rallies while Kelly grimaces helplessly in the background.

“Virtually the entire senior staff and cabinet of the Trump presidency past and present had travelled through the stages of adventure, challenge, frustration, battle, self-justification, and doubt, before finally having to confront the very real likelihood that the president they work for, whose presidency they bore some official responsibility for, didn’t have the wherewithal to adequately function in his job. Now, after less than two weeks on the job, it was Kelly’s turn to stand at that precipice. The debate, as Bannon put it, was not about whether the president’s situation was bad. But whether it was 25th amendment bad.”

(A not so) stable genius

The most common refrain among the insiders interviewed in Fire and Fury speaks to Trump’s lack of intelligence. According to Gary Cohn:

“It’s worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won’t read anything – not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing.”

Fire and Fury describes a president who gets so bored he can’t make it past the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. One who often disregards previous conversations and favors the one with whom he’s most recently spoken. It portrays a president who spends copious amounts of time watching TV in his private quarters while eating McDonalds food, which he believes is less likely to be poisoned.

Ironically, Trump’s fiery and furious reaction to the book on Twitter has drawn additional public ridicule and incredulity, with his proclamations of being “like, really smart” and “a very stable genius.”

Obviously, take this book with a grain of salt.

Wolff himself shows various differing opinions and accounts of situations, with one White House insider’s recollection differing from another’s. Accounts of the book being 100% fiction, though, seem exaggerated.

If you’re reading this recap, you are presumably old enough and reasoned enough to come to your own conclusions and political beliefs.

Wolff’s narrative is interesting. Some of the biggest mysteries, though, remain mysteries. What really is going on with Melania? Will Jarvanka continue their heavy influence, or will the investigation into Russian collusion be Kushner’s downfall? What about Trump’s numerous alleged financial conflicts of interest?

It’s a story that evolves every day. I’m interested to see how history records this period of time. We’ll undoubtedly see additional books about the Trump presidency, either by Michael Wolff or other authors. They, too, will deliver brow-furrowing intrigue.

Because let’s face it; in a world of mystery wiretaps, covfefe, executive TV time, and stable geniuses, the content just keeps on coming.


Quick note: I’ll give the same disclaimer I do with any politically charged book. This is just a review and summary. The book author’s views do not necessarily reflect my own. All readers are welcome here, regardless of personal political affiliation.